In modern gaming it is rare for any company to take a risk on a new IP especially this near the end of the 360’s cycle. So when Dishonored was first announced it came as quite a surprise but quickly became one of the more anticipated games coming out.
Coming from developer Arkane Studios & publisher Bethesda, Dishonored is a stealth action adventure game that sees players stepping into the shoes of the royal protector Corvo Attano. Returning from a trip to far lands to seek out help with a plague that is decimating the city of Dunwall he is set up for the murder of the empress & the disappearance of her daughter, Emily who is now the heir to the throne.
Corvo is imprisoned & during that time the self-declared leaders of the city are at war with a loyalist group whose aim is to put Emily back on the throne. With their help Corvo breaks out of prison, meets a powerful being known only as ‘The Outsider’ who imbues him with magical abilities & takes on the new role of an assassin.
The game is seen from the first-person perspective putting you in varied stealth missions with numerous objectives & numerous ways in which to finish the mission. Normally there is a target & this target needs to be eliminated but first you must get to them. Dishonored’s levels are very big & open to exploration…your route to your target can be taken via the streets, the sewers or the rooftops. All come with many different obstacles that you will have to overcome all in a number of different ways.
Choice is the key thing in Dishonored, how you play is up to you & will affect how characters interact with you & plot details further in the game. It is possible to go through the entire game without killing a single person or being even noticed.
Eliminating a target doesn’t necessarily mean killing them, perhaps they can be removed from their position in other ways such as being framed & then arrested or given over to their own personal stalker. Explore all the options as there are many & some of them are a lot of fun.
On the other hand going through & causing as much chaos as possible has its merits as well. Corvo is kitted out with all kinds of nasty weapons to help him in his quest ranging from crossbows to pistols to grenades to his trusty blade, all can be upgraded as you progress. Fighting can be tough so pick your battles carefully as enemies can surround you quickly. Some are extremely tough to beat as well such as the overseers whose musical boxes will disrupt Corvo’s magic.
Talking of magic Corvo also has access to a range of abilities such as blink which allows short spaces to be breached instantly or the plague of rats which sees an army of rats rush out to take down your enemy.
These are also upgradable by collecting hidden runes in each mission. Some upgrades are better then others such as the ability to see guards through walls which is invaluable when attempting a stealth run.
The story is both interesting & backed up by documents, diaries & books dropped around the levels. Corvo is voiceless but his plight is understandable & I cared about what would happen to him. The supporting cast are all excellently voiced & a mix of devious, cunning & heroic characters, almost everyone has an agenda.
Dishonored’s gameplay is top stuff with a variety of missions. My favourite is the infiltrating of the party, it’s unique & extremely fun to set about finding the target. Make sure you listen to some of the guests conversation as it offers some fascinating insight into the upper class of Dunwall city.
I find it hard to come up with many faults for the game but here are a few…
Dunwall itself is an interesting city that’s emptiness can be explained by the plague but its doesn’t feel that way. No shadows at a boarded up window, no sounds coming from inside a plague marked door…little things like this could have added more life to the city without compromising the plague story.
I also think some missions did not get as much attention as others did. For example the Golden Cat level which sees Corvo infiltrating a brothel to to get to a pair of brothers is very forgettable & excusing a fun little game with an art dealer (side-mission) it is far to straight-forward.
Although the game encourages you to play stealthy if you chose to run & gun the game could be wrapped up within a few hours. Side missions stretch it out a bit more but unless you are taking your time to plan your kills or aiming not get to seen by anyone the game is pretty short.
Dishonored is an amazing game that looks great & plays even better. It’s faults become more apparent after a while but they won’t detract from the experience particularly if stealthy play is what you’re after.