Release Date: October 9th, 2012
Systems: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Arkane Studios
Metacrtic Score: 89 (PS3)
“Dishonored” is a game I remember people loosing their minds over. There was a lot of excitement in the air, people couldn’t weight to get their hands on a copy. Then the reviews started to crop up, almost all being very good, and that caused even more excitement. And then the game came out and…nothing. It’s only been about two years and no one really seems to care about “Dishonored” anymore. Sure, ive seen t mentioned here and there, and with the rumors of a Dishonored 2 in the works i’ve seen a few people revisit it, but again, it seems like people have just kind of stopped caring. It’s almost like the game “Watch Dogs”. Once it was announced a lot of people were really into it, now it’s all but a ghost lingering in our memories. Does the game deserve better? Have the sands of time claimed just another victim, or a diamond in the ruff? That’s what i’m here to tell you.
In the city of Dunwall a plague has broken loose, killing off the poor while the wealthy remain safe behind their walls. You, as Corvo Attano, are sent into the neighboring kingdoms to ask for aid on behalf of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, the woman you are sworn to protect. Upon your return (as the game opens), the Empress is killed and her daughter, Emily, is kidnapped. Naturally, you are blamed for both, and impassioned. Some times goes by as you rot in a cell. But on the eve of your execution a group of loyalest help you escape and recruit you to help take down the people the people responsible.
As with most video game stories, there isn’t much here to get excited about narratively. Each mission is given too you in the exact same way: you speak to the Loyalist leader, you get your mission, then you talk to the boat man and you are on your way. Not helping matters is the fact that each mission is essentially the same: go here, find this person and kill them. So this I another game with a set dressing story, right? Well….no, I can’t say it is. You see, stories have five main parts, as we almost all know: Who, What, When, Were, Why. Dishonored undoubtedly stumbles in “who” and “why”s of it all, but it makes up for nearly all of that with it’s “Were” and “when”s. I haven’t seen a video game city this well realized sense “Silent Hill 2”. Dunwall is pretty clearly based off of the idea of steampunk versions of Victorian London (although instead of steam power, the games world runs on whale oil), and you never forget it or feel out of place. If you allow it too, the games atmosphere will immerse you like a think layer of whale blubber.
Ever decision that the people working at Arkane Studios was clearly made in order to reinforce the concept of the world they had created and your place within that world. Like the way everyone hums or whistle sea shanties. It makes sense that everyone would know that song as seeing that their entire culture revolves around the sea. They live by the sea, their main power source comes from the sea, and there are more boat here than cars. So, yeah, you may not care about who you’re trying to save or who you’re trying to kill, but you will care about the place you’ll be doing it.
You’ll also care about how you’ll be doing doing the killing. While the game play does have some issues this has been one of the most purely fun experiences i’ve ever played through. The sheer amount of fun I had was akin to watching a bad movie with some friends and verbally tearing it apart. When you perfectly execute the perfect plan and get in and out of an area completely unseen, it creates a gaming high few other games can touch.
So, why is the game so much fun? That would be due to the choices you’re given. But I don’t mean that quite the same way this (and many other games) mean it. The game wants you to believe that you can play either stealthy or go in guns blazing, and that’s true for the most part, but it’s pretty obvious that stealth was the main idea behind the game, as it almost always seems to be with games like this. The game also tells you that you can play as violently or non-violently as you want. And again, that’s not completely true. Killing to many people creates a backlash against you that not killing simply doesn’t. So how can I say it’s the choice that makes the game fun when it is clear that non-violent stealth play was how the developers clearly made the game to be played?
Because even playing the game like that there are a considerable amount of choices.
My main play style was akin to being Batman. I’d get to a high point, then quickly and quietly try to take out the guards patrolling that section. When and were I could i’d try turning their electronics on them too. But nearly every time I did that, I latter found a path were I wouldn’t have had to deal with any guards at all. Or at least fewer. Even playing the way you were “meant too” there are more that a few ways to do it. Normally with games like this there is the “stealth” path and the “action” path and not much else. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there are ways to stealth up the action path. I never felt that that was the case here however.
However, that abundance of choice is also a major part of my issues with the game play. As Corvo you have access to a pretty varied array of weapons and super powers. However, Corvo can only use these with his left hand, as he always has his trusty sword. Thus, changing between weapons can be something of a pain. More than once I would be aiming to take out knock out arrows and ended up killing a few people because the switching mechanics aren’t as tight as I wish they were. There is a quick select, but it is limited to four options so no mater what I had selected, I never really had what I wanted.
The only other annoyance is the way you upgrade certain things. Like, the powers you gain. You don’t level up by playing like you do in most games. You level up by finding bone charms that are spread throughout each level. This does encourage exploration, and I can’t say it bothered me too much, but when I am constantly using one power, it would have been nice to feel like some progress was being made. Worse, however, are up grades you have to buy from the loyalist. Like, the ability to zoom. Something that would make your job easier, and thus the lives of the rebel group better, you have to pay for. Sure, they need money. A revolution isn’t going to pay for itself. But um…i’m doing all the damn work. So why am I paying to do my job again?
In the end, however, the game was a lot of fun to play, even with those issues.
Game Play: 4/5
Music and Sound:
The real question here is: can a game with a silent protagonist still get many points for sound? The trend was a bit old in 2012, but it’s 2014 now. Having a main characters who just doesn’t speak is somewhat lazy, no? I mean, how do we know Gordon Freeman really went to MIT? How do we know Link is the Hero? How do we know this guy is the real Corvo and not some imposter? Jokes aside, I am getting kind of sick of silent protagonist. But at least He didn’t have a crappy voice actor. In fact, the voice acting all around was very well done. No real issues, but also no real standouts. And outside of the sea shanties you hear people whistling I can’t recall anything from the soundtrack.
Music and Sound: 3/5
Overall Score: 3.5/5
Who is this game for:
I’d say if you like stealth games you should definitely give this game a look. Also anyone who likes Steampunk. While whale oil isn’t the same thing, the look and overall aesthetic has a very similar feel.
So, You may have noticed some changes to the review template. What do you think? Do you like the inclusion of pictures (all found on google, by the way) and the trailer instead of just one stock image? If so, leave a comment below and let me know. Doing all this really doesn’t add much to the work load, so if you like it, i’ll do all my reviews like this from now on!