Posted by willza99 (8 posts) -

So it took me a long time to finish my very first play through of Dishonored, I think thats partly down to my play style. I knew stealth would be too easy, and just fighting through the enemies offers little challenge unless I was playing on a harder mode. However as with most games that try to walk this black and white line of do good/bad I decided to try and be the most stealthy serial killer. Essentially imagine being Ezio from Assassins Creed but having the violent tendencies of Mr. Hyde ripping through enemies and youd get a general idea.

The main game mechanic at play here is the Good vs Evil debate of how you choose to play and for me there was one particular bit that made up my mind. You play Corvo, a man wrongly imprisoned for a crime he didnt commit, very much a wrong place, wrong time cliche, but thats fine. Your first act as Corvo is to break out of prison and this involves getting past all the guards. Its your choice obviously kill/sneak past. Initially I chose kill given that I was to be executed for a crime that I obviously didnt commit, yes unfortunately vengeance was in the forefront of my mind. So I hacked and slashed my way through.

This posed very little of a moral quandary until I got to part 2 of the break out; escaping through the sewer. This is where I found one of the many notes youre bound to find spread across Dunwall. In this note a man told a short story of how he and his wife couldnt buy enough elixir to live on and that hopefully the fire they lit would keep the rats at bay. Very sad, Im sure youll agree. However what really got me was that when I put the note down and turned to leave there I found huddled together as lovers would these 2 people. I knew the more I killed people the more the disease would spread and I would be subjecting the innocent civilians of Dunwall to a plague that would kill them en mass.

However after a quick peek at the achievements I realised that Id already discounted myself from several of the available challenges and thought to myself Screw it, onward and downward in my spiral of death and depravity but, this couple warrant a 2nd, peaceful playthrough. In that moment the writers had already convinced me to play peacefully but the real world satisfaction of achievements meant I had to do this twice So be it.

The game does have many fun little minor changes between good and evil choices made by the player. Its a wonderful system that pays off, but maybe you wont realise until you too have played a 2nd more drastically different playthrough. However before I jump into some of the fun facets of the Good v Evil outcomes, one of the things the game does is something that even larger developers with bigger games have done and it never works.

At the beginning before youre imprisonment you must meet the Empress and her Daughter Emily. Through reasons that are later explained the Empress is killed and her daughter kidnapped right in front of you and you are left to take the blame. Now I have a problem with this. As a player Im meant to have some sort of attachment to the Empress and Emily, these 2 women I hardly know and they instantly go and kill one and `remove` another. Why should I care? I dont know these people, I havent had time to build an actual immersive relationship with these people enough to care that theyre gone. It comes across as more of a Oh, tough shit scenario not a Oh my god NO! moment that the writers clearly want me to have (fallout 3 did this with the Users Dad). Its unfortunate that writers keep seeming to think that Ill care if someone I dont know but am supposed to, dies. It just brings me out of the experience.

However you do build an emotional bond to Emily through the game later as you see her change with whats gone on, but the fact that Im punished so unfairly is a better emotional `hot poker` in order to get me taking action.

So the repercussions of Good vs Evil are one of my favourite tiny mechanics at work here. For instance if you kill everyone you come across when you do talk to Emily later in the game shes far more dark and emo, at one point she draws a picture and on an Evil playthrough you see something that Id imagine Damien the Devil Child would create, however on a Good playthrough Emily draws sweet child crap like Rainbows (Dont think any of the writers stretched their imaginations there, but still its a nice touch).

Also part of the Game involves your use of `magical` mystic powers given to you by some spectral being called simply The Outsider (which does sound like a nickname given to the weird kid at school with a snot bubble). On a Good playthrough he appears as he did the very first time you saw him, however after slaughtering your way through Dunwall for the 5th time he appears more darkened and a scarier being overall which is probably the most appropriate thing.

I know I said the couple in the sewers made me want to be good, but in reality I think a larger part of being good was put upon me when my side-kick in crime Samuel (who ferries you to each mission, has wise words for you and seems an all round nice guy) told me at the beginning of the last mission I was the worst of everyone, betraying, scheming and killing. It was a surprising blow to take. I could barely believe it, the man whose helped me so much and always seemed to have something nice to say, the man who will save you at one point, just told me to get out of his boat and leave. Its like when your parents said they werent mad but just disappointed in you. I purposefully played a 2nd playthrough on peaceful, for an unfortunate couple and the validation of a simple old boatman. I feel it is the tiny things in games such as these, that make them great.

I feel Dishonored overall is an average game, but upon close inspection and a 2nd play though it certainly grows on you as a player and with some interesting DLC coming in about 5 hours, dealing with a mysterious man called the Daud you get to meet toward the end of the game its certainly worth a couple quick play throughs I feel.

8/10, Thanks for reading and please feel free to check out: http://willza99.wordpress.com for more of my reviews, thank you ;)

#1 Edited by believer258 (11035 posts) -

The death of Emily's mother is a narrative device. I don't think you were ever supposed to give a damn about her as a player, you were just supposed to be set up.

In the meantime, I feel like I need to replay this game and give some better-developed thoughts on the whole "moral choice" thing in this game. I feel like it's handled badly. The game's mechanics are very well-made for a "stealthy kill 'em all" playthrough, one where you use all of the creative tools you have to get rid of everyone quickly and efficiently and then disappear before more dudes show up. The story, though, is definitely concerned with shunning players who do "the wrong thing" by killing guards. You don't just give a player all of these fun tools and then slap their hands and say "No! That is morally reprehensible!". Especially in a medium where, let's face it, part of the pleasure and delight comes from our basic desire for success. And then to go and make the most varied and well-rounded part of the game the one that players get their hand slapped for taking? Without giving them a playstyle that is equally varied and well-rounded but doesn't include so much death? The game and story just do not mesh very well.

Let's not even get into Corvo's lack of a voice, which didn't do much for the story either. I enjoyed the mechanics of this game, I just wish that the developers had crafted a story that wove into the gameplay far better than it does.

#2 Posted by Veektarius (4137 posts) -

I tried giving Dishonored a shot, but in large part I stopped due to the complaints that @believer258 raised. I wasn't having much fun trying to work with just sleep bolts and choke holds, and yet the loading screens continually reminded me I should be going for them when I wanted. That's not all there was to it, though. When I fucked up a stealth thing and everyone attacked me, sure, I could fight my way out of it, but I also ended up cheesing my way through a good chunk of gameplay. I cheaply kill one dude after another with my knife in two minutes that I could have taken ten minutes killing (or not killing) stealthily. In addition, the setting didn't grab me like it should have. I'm not sure why. Maybe just that they didn't go far enough to humanize anything.

#3 Edited by Encephalon (1174 posts) -

Dishonored has plenty of good things going for it, but the chaos thing is just terrible.

The game that tells you that you're an assassin, gives you all these sweet tools to facilitate your being an assassin, then proceeds to wag its finger at you judgmentally for being an assassin.

The narrative-mechanic disconnect is becoming a more popular topic of discussion these days, among a select group at least, but I feel Dishonored is a way more potent example of it than the Uncharteds of the world. At least those games have the good sense to mess it up in a way that doesn't actively impede play.