To be honest, I haven’t seen this game yet until I played it recently and was somewhat surprised at how the game actually is. I also did not know that it was a Bethesda game and just saw only one screenshot of the game without any knowledge of how the game actually is besides being a stealth game. However, I just recently purchased it on Boxing Day and just played the first two or three hours of the game and here are my initial impressions of it.
The game starts out as you have been blamed for the murder of the Empress and the disappearance of her daughter by High Overlord Campbell and the Lord Regent who has sentenced you to death. Also that the city has a plague in reference to the Black Death in Europe that has been spread across its populace in the city causing death and an increase of rats.
Much like Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls’ games, the first mission involves you to break out of jail, however, its not quite open-world (at least from the two hours, I had played) and sets you in a somewhat linear path with optional quests and collectibles to find on your way.
The contact that guard had slipped for you at the starting first helped you escape the prison, having a location of your gear and to escape the island. The contact eventually is the loyalists who realize the main character is the one who has been framed for killing the Empress and the disappearance of her daughter. The leader of the Loyalists, the Admiral first wants you to kill the High Overlord Campbell which was really surprising considering that’s your first main objective after you landed there and left somewhat confused how long the game actually is.
After you had escaped the prison and made your way to the Loyalists hideout, in your sleep, a mysterious person grant you a gift to wield magical abilities, starting with the first useful ability, Blink which teleports you from one place to another. Also you get a heart that creepily talks to you in a woman’s voice and tells you where to find Bone shards and Runes that of which could obtain more powers and upgrade existing ones.
The heart will indicate where to these runes and whenever you are close to them, you will hear a “singing voice” and that heart will constantly beat rapidly. The heart constantly reminds me of that Doom 3 expansion, where you obtain that demonic heart in the beginning although you could wield it and your sword in this one and there’s no ability for the heart to consume souls (maybe, I’m still at the beginning).
From a combat and gameplay portion, it just felt like Skyrim, the fact that you could wield a spell/power on the left hand while you sword on the other. Even the blocking and stealth kills are quite reminiscent of that game due to the fact that the stealth kill animation looks like it has been pulled straight from Skyrim.
As a stealth game even though it feels like Skyrim, it stills feels good. In the two or so hours that I had played this game, I really liked the crossbow with sleeping darts and used it more than the non-lethal takedowns. It just reminds me of playing Human Revolution although I liked the non-lethal takedowns more in that game than this. Furthermore like that game, you could carry/drag unconscious or dead guards into places where enemies could not see it or trash bins. However, I don’t think the AI could wake up a unconscious guard from the time that I had played.
As I said, Blink is a really useful spell especially when you storm into the Campbell’s compound after rescuing the old overseer. Infiltrating his place reminds me so much like Arkham Asylum without the gargoyle statutes and blinking from one ledge to another makes it satisfying.
The other powers/abilities I had unlocked aside from blink are the see-through ability, mind-control and slow-motion. Each ability has a upgrade that requires more than one rune though so far it only goes to rank 2 where that specific ability becomes better. The mind-control power is weird because the first rank you could control an animal such as a rat that could be used to crawl to smaller vents that of which the player could not go and find hidden areas however you cannot be close to a guard or else they will kill it – in the next rank, you could possess a guard or so and in the limited time, the other guards will be friendly to you and will not attack, furthering obtaining more loot.
Like Deus Ex, the game promotes less bloodshed and more non-lethal takedowns or to avoid enemies as possible. In fact, the game tells you that killing any person will increase the outcome of how it will affect your ending due to the fact that both the plague and the rat infestation that clogged the city.
The AI are dumb at times and for a stealth game, its really not a coincidence. Although I did like that the guards’ alert level icon reminds me of Arkham City when you try to alert them, they have two stages before they spot you. I also like the fact that when they spot you out of nowhere, they get startled and then proceed to warm others about their discovery at your position. Also the AI will sometimes peak into doors and have the will to look up and spot you unlike other stealth games and like Assassin’s Creed will use their ranged weapons to kill you.
From a graphical standard, from the same company who brought Skyrim, Dishonored just plains looks like Skyrim from the somewhat snarly and ugly character designs to the environment and its textures. The lighting just sets it apart and it basically felt like the similarities that New Vegas have as a light aesthetic with added steampunk-ness to its setting. However it stills looks good from the effects of your powers to how they decided on the art style.
Again like Skyrim, the problem having the somewhat interface as that game ruins the character interaction of this game. It’s just plain awkward to see a NPC turn around to speak to you, although certain key NPCs like Fallout 3 and Skyrim will trigger that weird locked-in interaction. In addition, there are times that some random NPC will appear when you are talking to someone and it just feels that they need to improve the general quality of these weird interactions.
So far, I had killed Campbell and freed the former overseer and had saved the captain from an assassination by poison by him. I somewhat rushed to kill Campbell seeing that I have one or so optional quests remaining at that place (it is the quest where you had to poison the thugs that has been harassing the crazy old women).
UPDATE: FINISH THE GAME IN 7 HOURS
Written my first review of 2012 since Generals.