Dishonored is a first person stealth action game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Studios. Dishonored lets you play a supernatural assassin in the steampunk city of Dunwall tackling a series of assassination missions. Does Dishonored live up to the Hitman and Deus Ex series which it draws inspiration from when it comes to stealth gameplay?
Dishonored takes place in the fictional steampunk city of Dunwall. You play as Corvo, the legendary bodyguard of the Empress, who is framed for her murder. You end up in jail from her murder and are able to escape thanks to the supernatural powers given to you by the mysterious Outsider. Once out of prison you join rebel group called the Loyalists. The Loyalists assign you assassinations in order for you to seek revenge against the people who framed you for the Empress murder and kidnapping of her daughter Emily. First and foremost I really enjoyed the story of Dishonored. There were interesting twists in the story and the whole story centers around this plague that inhabits the city. The plague either becomes worse or better based on your actions. In Dishonored depending whether you choose to lethally take out your enemies or not changes how the plague affects the city. If you choose to kill everyone who stands in your way there are these zombie-like creatures that begin to creep all over the city called weepers. The explanation for their outbreak seems to be that thanks to you killing the guards, there is no authority to disperse of the victims of the plague. Based on your actions the authorities start to fear you and use all their remaining manpower to take you out. Throughout the world you find tons of audio logs and notes which give you back story to the events surrounding the city of Dunwall and its inhabitants. The voice acting is superb thanks to great actors/actresses like Susan Sarandon, Brad Dourif, Carrie Fisher, and Chloë Grace Moretz. Also I enjoyed that all storytelling was done in engine like Bioshock and Half Life 2, allowing you to stay immersed in the world rather than watch pre-rendered cut scenes that are so prevalent in modern games. My only issue with the story is that I wanted more. I felt they could of gone more in depth into the lore of the world and had more character development. I think by the end of the game there were still questions unanswered; like how the plague came to be, who the Outsider is, and motivations for the characters that framed you.
I loved the graphics and art style of Dishonored. The city of Dunwall is probably one of the most interesting settings next to Bioshock this generation. The city of Dunwall is inspired by late 1800s London and its dystopian elements share similarities with City 17 in Half Life 2. These similarities are no conscience, being that the visual director for Dishonored steam punk world is Viktor Antonov who developed City 17. I loved the hand drawn oil painting look of the environments and the characters that had a neat looking cartoony style very similar to Bioshock’s character design. I like the city was a mixture of an old industrial city with high technology. The high technology implemented in the city was due to the valuable resource of whale oil that powers it. Dishonored graphics while not on the cutting edge of technology are unique enough to stand out from everything else out on the market. Not to mention, that Dishonored on the PC is the definitive version of this game much like Borderlands 2, considering you have a PC that can run it at 60 frames per second in 1080p resolution.
From a gameplay standpoint, I have not had this much freedom and choice to tackle an objective in a game since Deux Ex Human Revolution. Before I explain the amount of choices this game offers, I first want to clarify any confusion on how the game is structured. The game is actually not an open world like a Deus Ex game but instead opts for a mission based structure similar to Hitman. The great thing about this choice is that each level is like it own little mini sandbox which you can explore and reach your objective how you choose. Not to mention that you can pull up these missions from your main menu after you complete and replay them in a totally different fashion. The reason for replaying the missions of course being that there are different styles of gameplay in this game; stealth gameplay where you non-lethally or lethally take out your enemies and a more action based combat approach where you kill anyone that stands in your way when trying to assassinate your target. You can also mix and match both if that is more your play style. With that said, the amount of choices to complete your objectives are vast with the bulk of the gameplay revolving around your magic powers, weapons, and non-lethal methods. First, you wield a power in one hand and a weapon in another very similar to Bioshock and Skyrim. The first power that you receive in the game and the best one in my opinion is called Blink. Blink is a short distance teleportation ability. When wielding this power you place a cursor on various surfaces to traverse the environment. There are three great things about this ability; first it brings plenty a upward mobility to reach to explore the environment and take different routes to reach your objective, second it is very helpful in escaping guards when you are detected or teleporting behind guards for a stealth or non-lethal takedown, and lastly it solves the problem that most first person games have when it comes to platforming by adding much need precision when trying to close the gaps. My only small issue with Blink is that I wish it changed color in order to indicate when you could or could not make a platform. Arkane does an effective job of indicating when blink will allow you to climb up a ledge but not when you can traverse the platform itself when you are too far. Another great power is the ability to see through walls and see the guards’ field of vision. This was a helpful power when I wanted to play the game with the stealth options. The next power is the ability to possess people and rats. The ability to possess rats is helpful if you want to find alternative routes like sewers for example. You could also use possession in many other creative ways when it comes to combat. You could slow down time and possess a guard then move them in front of their own attacks or another guards’ attacks. You could also possess your target , jump off the ledge, and then possess a guard on the ground to avoid the fall damage. Other magical abilities include the ability to force push enemies with wind blast, stop or slow down time, turn enemies to dust after you kill them, and summon a swarm of rats to devour your enemies. Next there are the vast amounts of weapons that you acquire throughout the game. There is a crossbow that allows you shoot bolts that put enemies to sleep, set enemies on fire, and decapitate enemies with a great slowdown camera. I also loved shooting bolts in guards’ knees, then getting up close and chopping their heads off. Not to mention this game has the best first person melee short fighting I even seen. This is due to the great parry and counter systems, blocks, and fluid animations. You also have a pistol that has regular bullets and incendiary ammo. There are also three types of grenades; the regular explosive kind as usual, the sticky kind, and the spring razor. The spring razor is a proximity mine that coiled with barb wire and explodes when triggered by nearby movement. The powers and weapons work best when used in conjunction and is when the game is most creative and interesting. A perfect example of this is when you summon a swarm of rats, possess a rat, attach a spring razor, and then possess another individual out of harms way before the rats explode. Besides the combat abilities, this game is very much a first person stealth game inspirited by great series like Thief and Deux Ex.In this game, much like in the a Duex Ex, you can hack traps that enemies put down to stop you from accessing an area. In Deux Ex it is often turrets and doors that are hacked but in Dishonored there are Walls of Light and Ark Pylons. Walls of Light are electrical gates that electrocute when you enter through them. Ark Pylons are like big fly traps that electrocute you if you get anywhere near there vicinity. In the game you can rewire the Walls of Light and Ark Pylons to zap your enemies rather than yourself making for some very interesting tactical gameplay. I felt that the stealth was more accessible in this game thanks to the great AI and how they responded during an alarm state when you were detected. The problem with most stealth games is that they are very trial and error oriented. If you get detected it is often difficult to return to stealth mode and you generally end up having to replay that section over again by reloading your save. Dishonored overcomes this by allowing you either effectively escape the guards once more to return to stealth or by actually giving you a chance to fight back with all the great combat options. You can escape in Dishonored in many ways but the most effective being slowing down time and finding a hiding spot or using blink to traverse an area to reach high ground. Also I enjoyed that when the AI was alarmed, not all the guards in the building game started running towards you, just the ones in that general vicinity. This allowed Dishonored to be a challenging stealth game without becoming too frustrating. Lastly, the great thing about the stealth option is you can play the whole game without killing anyone. When up close you can choke out enemies or avoid them all together. Also by exploring the map you can find people who would do the dirty business themselves or find ways to have your targets disappear without you having to kill anyone. This is one of great ways that Dishonored rewards the player for exploration and experimentation. Speaking of exploration this was also implemented very well in Dishonored and plays into the rpg/upgrade system that you use throughout the game. The two items used to upgrade in Dishonored are Runes and Bone Charms. Think of upgrades in Dishonored in the same vein as Bioshock with the Runes being the Plasmids and Bone Charms being the Gene Tonics. Runes are all the magical abilities you choose in the game and the Runes give you the ability to upgrade those abilities. Bone Charms are the passive abilities in the game, for example the ability to have more health or mana or blink further. In the game you find Runes and Bone Charms by exploring the world and doing side missions. The great thing about the upgrades in the game are you are given a mechanical heart that indicates where the Runes and Bone Charms are located on each level. This mechanical heart was also helpful in hearing conversations giving you great hints on how to tackle a mission or giving some back story on the world and characters. Also I enjoyed exploring because you would find notes that give you side missions and items that automatically converted into gold in order to buy potions,ammo, and upgrades. With all these options in mind, what makes Dishonored such a great game is I never found myself approaching any mission in the same way.
The amount of content in Dishonored is really my only complaint with the game in general. It is really difficult to comprehend the amount of content in a game such as Dishonored because there are so many different ways to play through the game. For my walkthrough I choose to focus primarily on the main story and avoided a lot of exploration and side content. If you choose to play Dishonored in this fashion, the game will only take 6-8 hours to complete. If you choose to explore and do all the side content this game can take anywhere from 10-14 hours to complete depending on how much of a completionist you are. Also the amount of time it takes to complete the game depends on the how you choose to play the game. If you choose the high chaos route like I did, this is the quickest way to complete the game. If you choose the low chaos route it takes longer to complete the game because it will require a lot reloading saves due of trial and error. Depending on whether you take the low or high chaos route for your playthrough you also get a different ending, different dialogue from characters, and a completely different last stage. With that said, Dishonored only has 9 levels and for a $60 retail package, I really wanted at least double that in this type of experience. I realize that you can replay the missions a different way after you complete them and if you explore there are a lot more things to do but when it comes down to it, after I completed this game I wanted to assassinate more targets, upgrade more powers, and learn more about the world and characters of Dunwall. I think a deep, rich experience such as Dishonored should have content up to par with the games it draws influences from. The Thief and Deus Ex series both take 20 hours to complete.Being that Dishonored is a single player only experience,I want this amount of content going forward in this types of games.
Even though I believe Dishonored needs more content, does not mean what you pay for is not worth it in terms of quality. My main reason for wanting more missions in Dishonored is because it is so damn good. I definitely see myself going back and replaying the missions a different way because I love the variety of gameplay but I still will be yearning for more of Dunwall. With such a unique setting and the amount different gameplay options unmatched by any game this year, Dishonored is ripe for a sequel.
Buy: A 6-8 hour playthrough if you're doing high chaos plathrough and a 10-14 hour experience if you doing low chaos or a completionist playthrough. Quality over Quantity always wins in my book, making Dishonored a must buy.