A Mixed Bag, but the Good Kind
Dishonored is being touted by critics and fans alike as a nice, progressive step in the right direction for the stealth genre. I don't see it that way, though. Many reviews applaud the game for it's use of powers to make stealth easier and more fun. While the powers available to the player are certainly interesting and fun to use, they don't exactly push the genres in any new directions or do anything particularly remarkable to make stealth games more playable. Deus Ex, after all, had augmentations (which are basically the same thing as powers, minus the magical origin,) but they weren't necessarily pushed to the front in the same way that they are in Dishonored. The most that the powers do is make the game easier. That's not really genre changing at all, it's just different.
Don't take this the wrong way, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this game and I was on board with all the hype and praise... but the second half peters out so steeply and becomes so predictable and boring that I had difficulty finishing the game. The first four missions were magical experiences, I had a ton of fun going on these silent take-down fests. If the game were more of that, it would have garnered a solid four-to-five star review. The story isn't here for me though, and the voice acting is largely sub par. If you own and play this game, try the following thing out: Whenever a guard speaks to another guard, count how many times the reply will be straight from a Magic 8-Ball. I'm not even kidding, it'll be 8/10 times, with the other two being some Steam-Punk variant of "Fuck off." (In addition, it seems like every guard has Tourette's Syndrome as well, if you dispatch of his comrades, he'll just wander around muttering the same expletives over, and over, and over again.) I understand the difficulty of writing dialogue, but if they had even tried a little bit, or even paid attention to it at all, they would have noticed how annoying it can become. Arkane Studios needs some work in the writing department, over all. Sometimes I let the writing slip on games, like Borderlands 2, but this game is quite good at everything else and is quite immersive. Nothing kills the mood like feeling great about taking out your target in the non-lethal manner, expecting praise or any kind of reaction (you know, like they advertised would happen) and instead I'm greeted with hearing the same exact dialogue one way or the other. There are subtle changes, such as wanted signs having a '?' mark instead of your mask if you do a ghost run through, and a different ending. Oh, and spoilers: The two endings I got sucked.
It is strange that I poured as many hours into the game as I did and yet here I am complaining about the game. I suppose it isn't so much that the game is terrible as it could have been incredible. All the right elements are there, but it just isn't executed as well as I had hoped. Visually, the game pulls off the painted look pretty well. The characters look great, and the architecture is astounding. The art in this game is easily the most competently executed part. The controls are tight, and the PC version was pretty well done (aside from a minor bug that renamed all my saves to "Month/Day/Year, Hour:Minute:Second" but no progress was lost.) The PC also has additional options for things like turning off objective markers, interactivity icons, and more. That is really, really awesome and I applaud Arkane for allowing me to experience this game in such a customizable way. I completed the game twice, both on Very Hard with objective markers and interaction markers turned off, and my HUD was contextually hidden. I feel that it really catered to what I wanted out of this game, and improved my experience by a good amount, despite its seemingly small size.
Just don't go in expecting this game to be perfect. It isn't. Perhaps no game ever will be, but that's getting philosophical and I don't want to go that way. I just want to say that this game is worth playing. Play it on your platform of choice, enjoy it, and I'm sure you won't find as much to bitch about as I did. It is a good game, just not as good as I had hoped.