Game Review: Dishonored
My kids told my wife they wanted to get me a game for my birthday. Only problem was I had nothing on my short list of games wanted, so I had to do a little research and see what piqued my interest. I came up with three games I secretly gave to my wife so my kids wouldn’t think I knew what was up and she would know what to buy on their behalf. I gave them Dishonored, Metro Last Light, and a third game I do not remember at the moment. I emphasized how I thought Last Light would be “really cool.” On my special day I found Dishonored to my surprise. My kids said they wanted to see me do the stealth thing. They made a damn good choice. If you were thinking about getting this game go ahead and do it, but read the rest of the spoiler-free review for why you should get it.
This year in gaming is slowly starting to impress me. And I emphasize slowly. Based on my limited adventures in gaming in 2013, it’s been a lackluster 8 months so far. That is, until Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider came long; now I can add Dishonored to the short list of games that entertained a certain part of my brain for which I know not the name. But, it’s a part of my brain that I like to tickle with nerd-gasmic gaming. Dishonored is the epitome of a vengeance story. It’s a simple story line, but the game makes up for that with detailed gameplay features, graphics, and an open-world environment free to let YOU decide “how” you want to proceed to your next kill target. It would be so easy to knock on the door and shoot someone in the face Steven Seagal style, but that would be just too easy and made for Hollywood. It’s time to put on the mask and use stealth to your advantage in this revenge-based adventure game.
I like the setting. The city of Dunwall is modeled after what I perceived to be London. After doing a bit of research it was revealed that both London and Edinburgh were the model for Dunwall. The designers did a great job of bringing the feel of those two awesome cities to this game. They added an atmosphere of a plague and corruption in what was once a great city. It gave Dishonored a dark and gloomy appeal of death and demise. If the Xbox was able to emit an odor it would have been that of the stench of sewage and rotting corpses. But, visually I hope you can see what I am getting at. The detail that went into this game was obviously meticulous.
So there you are, the Empress’s bodyguard. You are summoned to meet her when she is killed right before your eyes. This happens in the opening sequence, so I am not spoiling anything for you. Of course, you are framed and jailed, hence the need for revenge. From there you escape in order to wield said revenge. Like I said, it’s a simple plot which is pretty much outlined right here in the first of nine missions. From there you find yourselves with the loyalists who helped aid your prison escape and help you on your vengeful journey…silently, of course.
The objective in Dishonored is two-fold; first to free the kidnapped daughter of the Empress who is the rightful heir and second to exact revenge…sweet revenge. You are given several tasks to complete that enable your journey to the top dog. First, you have to assassinate (or not) certain people who aid Lord Regent. You actually don’t have to kill them if you feel it’s inappropriate. Your missions help you develop your skills as an assassin. As with many other games, there are the primary missions and optional missions that pop up along the way. Though the optional missions are not that difficult or really that time-consuming. You won’t feel like someone’s bitch like you are in other games. It’s best to do those optional missions anyway, since any mission you do will only lead you in one way or another to money and weapon upgrades based on the money you find.
The great thing about being an assassin in Dunwall is that not only do you have a few weapons to choose from, you get to use a bit of magic. There are several things you get to use such as Possession which enables you to use a pack of rats to attack a guard. Blink was best because it allows you to essentially beam over to another part of the map for a limited distance. Dark Light lets you see enemies through walls including seeing their field of vision. Whirlwind lets you blow people over with a strong wind. Between your crossbow, your magic, and your own hands, you have an array of techniques to drop a guard or even a civilian. You have to just shut them up sometimes.
Keep in mind the goal here is not to leave a body count accompanied with bullet casings for forensics to find like they do in Hollywood. It’s all about stealth tactics and not getting noticed. The people you blatantly kill, the rats will eat, thus spreading plague and leading the city further into chaos whether you meet your objectives or not. More chaos equals more weepers…infected people that act like zombies and pretty much try to eat you. So, you will have to do the best you can to put someone into what I like to call in involuntary sleep. The way you handle your enemies affects not only the ending of the game, but actual game play along the way. This is where things get interesting.
The open-world environment allows you to decide how and where you want to proceed. There is no one way to enter a building or get to a part of the map where your target is. Along the way you can use your magical powers to help you locate runes and bone charms. These things boost your capabilities in more ways than one. So, it’s best to use that power and find as many bone charms and runes as you can. This actually helps you uncover more of the map and find alternate methods for locating your target. You don’t actually have to kill anyone in this game and that’s the fun part. If possible you don’t even have to put them into that involuntary sleep I mentioned before. This is where the game proves challenging and necessitates a lot of patience waiting for guards to move around so you can move in the shadows.
This game reminded me of several other games I played over the years. Spying on guards and avoiding their field of vision was reminiscent of Metal Gear games. The dystopian atmosphere is parallel with Bioshock with public address propaganda included. The stealth tactic and interaction with some people in the game was like Assassin’s Creed…though I never played that game much, only a demo. Despite having several things in common with other games…pretty much unavoidable nowadays, Dishonored is a standalone game that needs to be played if you like the description I left for you. It’s a fun game; it’ requires patience; and it allows you to make smart choices in order to fulfil your destiny as an assassin.
The video below gives you a good idea of what to expect in the game, but isn’t actual game play.