When we first saw Dishonored (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) at E3 in 2011, the trailer sold us up on a fast-paced, action-packed assassin thriller. It looked like Arkane Studios took Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed and Bioshock, and combined them to make a perfectly balanced first-person action-assassin game. Although it has its flaws, the final result is full of “ah ha” moments and refreshing gameplay that places this in the running as of the best games in 2012. Step out the shadows and see where this game shines.
Dishonored is set in a dystopian, fictional city of Dunwall, based off London in the Victorian era. Complete with a plague, famine, and corruption the society you play in is pretty intense. Your character named Corvo is a royal guard who was set up as the murderer of the queen and the kidnapper of her daughter.
With the help of throne loyalists, you have to go through various assassinations and missions to clear up your name, get revenge and rescue the princess. Throughout the game, the story remained interesting to a degree. You’ll likely never really care about the characters. However, you make decisions that determine your various endings like in most Bethesda games. The endings stick to that same formula, being in the white area (completely good) or the black area (completely evil), with nothing in the grey area.
The game-lay has two play styles, being either stealthy or all-out assault. Most gamers generally play Dishonored in the espionage fashion, but this game makes that play style pretty difficult. You will find yourself being spotted a bunch of times and having to settle with murdering everyone in sight. Meanwhile, the “chaos meter” is a creative feature implemented in the game. This mechanic affects everything from in-game events, your ending and most notably the amount of people affected by the plague and famine who, in-turn, become enemies.
Out the gate, the experience is kind of slow paced. This quickly changes once you get your hands on more weapons and powers. Then the ride becomes a hell of a lot more fun. You get more creative with kills, multiple enemies are simpler to take down, and you take advantage of more kill cut-scenes.
In the weaponry field, Corvo is stacked with pretty interesting tools. His primary weapon is a switch-blade sword. He also uses a bolt shooter and pistol: both with various types of ammunition. Their versatile nature comes in hand no matter your approach. He can also use traps, grenades and hacks for enemy machines. Corvo can also learn over 10 different spells, ranging from plagued rat summoning, to the ability to see through walls, or the much needed “blink” ability, which is Dishonored’s title for teleportation. All these powers are upgraded with runes or gold that can be found all over the game world.
Artistically, the game looks good. Arkane adapted the similar cartoonish grimy look from Bioshock, which makes characters look great. A lot of the scenery up close has a stale look though. Sure, it’s to fit the era and the style. Then again, the first person view gives you a front row seat to the gruesome blood splatter and fire you’re causing in combat.
Dishonored isn’t a long game either. There are mission based challenges,which do add for replay value but it’s marked around the 15-hour mark on normal difficulty. This is definitely due to the linear game play, lack of open world and minimal side missions. Still, don’t worry, DLC is on the horizon.
Overall, this is a fun ass game. Bethesda should have encouraged more emphasis in the story. But I did enjoy how the gameplay picks up quickly and the replay ability in the missions. The action and combat are sweet, and I really liked the different options in progressing through stages and killing enemies with magic. The game builds a great base for future expansions and sequels in the future…hint, hint Arkane.