A breeze of fresh air.
Lately I had the urge to play a stealth game, I often have this urge but end up replaying stuff like Team Fortress 2 anyway. This time I was going to hunt down some game that had me slow-pace through it as a main objective, nothing meta prepared like getting any famous action game like Half-Life 2 and try to low-profile it. I wanted the real deal, something that resembled what I experienced back in the day when I had to safeguard my physical integrity while advancing in Goldeneye 007. believe it or not it's one of my fondest stealth memories.
Dishonored had made a stir in the community when it came out and was basically the number one choice anytime I tried to search for a game that matched my requirements. The price was right so I went for it. The fact Bethesda was involved had me less fearful of what I might be getting.
The first impression wasn't all that great, I seemed to have trouble understanding what the game meant with staying out of sight. I had hoped for some kind of meter telling me how aware the enemies were of me, something the very same Bethesda had done so well in the latest installments of the Elder Scroll franchise. The eye opening and somehow you knew you were about to get into trouble.
Later I got used to how the lightning bolts over the heads of foes worked and realized it wasn't far from what Oblivion or Skyrim had in mind. The enemies are just way too aware of you at the slightest showcase of presence. When the bolts do appear it's just mere moments away from having your cover completely blown. Again, everything needs time and practice to finally get used.
The combat is not all that fancy and you might just wield your pistol and go through the game like a post-apocalyptic Rambo for all we care. The joy however stands in covering your actions and slow-pacing through the levels. The game even prizes the player that chooses the low-profile instead of guns-blazing. Hell, it even prizes players that choose to go through it all without killing a single person. Not the easiest thing to achieve I must say, especially since games rarely rely on that sort of thing, it feels like going against your very own nature.
I wouldn't be Bethesda if the story wasn't complex and full of little details scattered around. I must confess I was less inclined to go through readings than I would playing something Like Skyrim, but still, it's quite apparent that they put real effort in making everything interesting for those seeking to enrich the adventure. The story deals with a guy that bodyguards the daughter of an empress. This empress is killed while caught up in political non-sense and Corvo, the bodyguard and your main character, is charged responsible for the murder and the girls disappearance. It's pretty obvious the path from here, with that extra spice Bethesda has learned to put into their games.
To help out you're visited in dreams by some strange guy that seems to simply be "helping" you for a few laughs in the end. Some sinister-looking fellow that teaches a few special abilities to Corvo like how to stop time for a few seconds of how to detect enemies from behind walls. This comes at a price and it's paid during the game with collectibles. There are several techniques that can be learned but the most important of all is certainly the Blink.
The Blink is an instantaneous dash that transports the player from one place to the other without being seen. It's quite essential to the adventure and it's the only one you can't skip. It helps not only to bypass enemies without being seen, but also for climbing high places making use of the high-speed dash.
Managing how you take on the surroundings is important. Depending on how you choose to advance you could always go through the front door or find your way using Blink and other techniques to raise little to no suspicion. Most places have several ways to bypass, both lethal (involving killing) and non-lethal (which involves only decisions and lessons to be learned).
The production does Bethesda justice, it's a beautiful game graphically and in practically every aspect it does a fine job. The voice-over might not be top notch but which Bethesda game is? It also has a perfect length. While I've seen some people complain about it having only 9 missions, the fact that every mission doesn't overstay its welcome is a sign of good things to come. In fact, the game overall is just about the size it needed to be. Something like 15 hours for one first play-through, which will almost instantly demand a second one in whatever opposite profile you in the first one; low or high profile.
Dishonored does a fine job in its storytelling and gameplay mechanics. It's funny to see Emily (the girl you bodyguard) turning into whatever your actions in the game were. Kill everyone in sight and she turns into a vindictive little brat that dreams of absolute power and mass killing everyone under her command. Save everyone and she'll paint rainbows and tell how you're an important part of her life. You almost feel like a bad digital parent to her when your actions are dubious.
Anyone interested in trying a stealth game should give this one a go. Sure it gives you the opportunity to be a killing machine but the real fun of playing this kind of game is overthinking your actions, one by one, and dealing the right amount of chaos to complete your objective. It's certainly a game that sets itself apart from the bulk of mindless eradication of anything that dares to move your way. It might not be your cup of tea but It's hard to deny it's a breeze of fresh air at least.