Oh yes, the ever awkward sensation of attempting to review something old enough to have been played by most people who would care about the title, but not old enough to be nostalgic to those who played it. Well, screw it, I had this game on the shelf for six months, was originally waiting for a DLC sale so I could have the whole package, but decided to get done with it and give my thoughts.
Dishonored Review Release Date: 09/10/2012 Platforms: Xbox 360(Reviewed), PS3, PC Developer: Arkane Studios Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Set in the plague stricken city of Dunwall, which could blanketly be summed up as City 17 from Half-Life 2, but with a coat of that ever vague coat of what one might call steampunk. The game stars Corvo, the bodyguard to the city’s Empress who after failing to find a cure for the plague in distant lands, returns to see her assassinated by shadowy gas-mask wearing thugs with magical powers who leave him next to the Empress’ body, with her daughter missing to boot. Sparking a quest of redemption, revenge, and sneaking up behind guards with a sword in hand, and either crossbow or magic the the other.
The actual storyline is more or less a justification for Corvo to be out and about in first person stealth adventure, with a form of resistance recruiting him as a hitman of sorts to take out influential people in the city’s not quite stable government and makes sure the person on the throne isn’t a pillock who’d mandate a citywide curfew with the response to resistance being fiery arrows or death by electric grids.Not that it prevents its presence from being felt, with a lot of storytelling coming from the world itself, in the traditional way of seeing the sights of plague victims imprisoned, or their bodies dumped by the truckloads. Or by having notes that continue my personal gripe with most games that do such a thing, due to how it is pretty jarring to go from rather tense time under a table, to reading a multiparagraph excerpt from a fictitious novel. With the former being rather rich, as the design strikes a very nice chord of a city gone to hell, or in the case of my game, some sort of middle ground where things are ruined, but in a more melancholic manner.
Cutting to the chase, I played the game on easy, non lethally, without raising any alarms, or using any of the upgrade tokens for magical powers. Now, for a game that was advertised with a series of creative manners to enact the art of mystically assisted murder, that might sound a bit odd. Well, I originally intended to play through it twice, once going for all the rewards that come with being a saintly gentlemen, well, at least until I realized the game’s poorly worded requirements were not met by my playthrough. And this game took me a good forty hours to complete. Comparatively, I personally met up with a chap who beat the game within the night of release by forgoing slumber.However, going down such a pacifist path alters what is known as the city’s chaos level. Where the city could be darker and the ending likely less embarrassingly happy, but likely just as anticlimactic. With the final of the game’s nine missions ending with opening a door after I walked past the big bad. A notion carried by most of the scenery, where there was a general sense of apathy emitted from the world. Which considering I didn’t do anything wrong according to the mission results screen, other than having two knocked out maids found in a cellar, felt like I was being jipped out of some emotional weight because I wanted to get the reward for playing the game in a more difficult manner.
Describing how I played Dishonored could best be summarized as: “All right, is everything clear in this room? Okay, I think I can get past this guard A, so- crap, there was another guard, reload and try to knock out guard A, and put him on top of a bookshelf or what have you.” Along with a plethora of exploring the very sizable locals you adventure in, although the emphasis on this being a city is somewhat lost by how little is ultimately shown. Feeling more like disjointed areas sharing architectural themes, while being not quite as absorbing when the game decides to take place during the daytime.Granted, I found it very enjoyable to wander through the sights and explore nearly every nook and cranny for money that served little purpose to me, or collectables with nearly the same value. However, as a wholly stealth experience, I enjoyed it more than the other title where I attempted a similar run, Deus Ex Human Revolution, perhaps owing due to how the benefits of getting rid of guards is simply not having them around, yet I still had many a pile of knocked out bodies, and the mistakes are easier to reprimand with the ability to reload missions. However, the call to either go against the plan never seemed very appealing to me, due to how much it claimed the act of murder to be something negative. Which could also be attributed to the zeroes littering my mission based report cards, which oddly only gave me the satisfaction of not screwing up, rather than actually achieving something.
Even then, the stylishly murky scenery mixed with more decadently regal locals grew a bit repetitive though my examinations, despite being a title I’d assume would be centered around replayability. Following the very bright and different feeling gameplay of the second half of the fifth mission, the still visually appealing environments grew a bit tired to me. With all the cards having been laid out, most of the world became a series of rooms I tried to maneuver about, grabbing the goodies a talking heart directed me to, and not much more. Even though there is quite a lot of detail placed into the world, which took longer than the average development cycle if things like certain textures are concerned. And the clear visual direction does help it look rather nice, with the exception of some of the animations, which looked very robotic at times, namely when a conversation is engaged.However, as is one of, if not the primary point of a review, how would I view Dishonored in terms of quality? Well, considering my unique playthrough inspired by glossing over the achievements, which I use to direct me on what the developers wanted me to do in the game. My largest complaint is how the game just goes on for a bit too long, oddly the opposite of what many’s main issue was with the game. While it is an intense quest to go through the cracks within one area, and scope out everything before you, doing it for forty hours only made the pacifist hunt less enjoyable. All of which I’m going to blame on them Cheevos.
Good! (13/20) A solid title that may be lacking in an infinite amount of different ways, or just a few big and difficult to ignore issues. Varies based on the title, but still worth giving it a go overall!