With practically every new and upcoming game having some sort of affiliation with a series (COD, Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed, Halo, Borderlands, Medal of Honor, Resident Evil, etc.), it seems as if the popularity and media attention concerning new titles has almost completely vanished. However, among this sea of remakes and sequels, a brand new title has found its way onto store shelves. Dishonored is a stealth game much different than any other stealth game to date.
Coming out of Arkane Studios (who contributed to Bioshock 2 and COD: World at War) and Bethesda (Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, etc.), this game has a very familiar feel that gamers will recognize if they have played some of these developers’ previously mentioned games. As Soon as I started playing, I felt like I was stuck in limbo between the world of Bioshock, and the world of the Elder Scrolls games. It is something that is hard to describe, yet once you experience it for yourself, you will surely understand. Maybe it is the way the first-person gameplay is utilized, or maybe it is how the areas are mapped. I couldn’t really say.
The story of Dishonored is based in a Victorian-style fictional city called Dunwall, and your character, Corvo Attano, is the personal bodyguard to the empress. There is a plague spreading throughout the city, and no one can find a cure for it. Although it is known that rats are the carriers of the disease, no one knows how the disease got into the city. Therefore, the empress decides to send you off to neighboring cities in search for a cure. By the time you return (empty handed, mind you), the city is in ruins, and you are no further along in finding a cure than you were before. When you go to tell the empress of your findings, or lack thereof, assassins rush in and murder her, kidnapping her daughter as well. When the guards come rushing in, they find you over her dead body and imprison you for murdering the empress. Now, not only do you have to escape prison, but you also have to find out who the real murderer was, and save the daughter, who is supposed to become the new empress. Corruption and lies seem to be around every corner, and through your interactions with various individuals, you learn that no one is to be trusted. Oh yeah, and you’re also given some pretty damn cool powers along the way (controlling other living creatures, summoning rats to devour your enemies, and stopping time are just a couple of examples). I won’t try and explain the whole concept of how you obtain these powers, as it’s pretty odd, but it’s nevertheless a cool aspect of the game.
The most appealing part of the game is the freedom given to the player. In any given situation, there are several ways to approach assassinating an individual. For instance, you can teleport right behind someone and stab them, or crawl through the rafters and land right on them. You can also choose to ignore enemies completely, or simply render them unconscious. These decisions all have a significant impact on the game’s ending, as the more people you kill, the more the rat plague increases in size, and the more your “chaos rating” increases throughout the city. Also, just like any other american RPG-style game, the more people you kill, the less people will like you in the long run. All of this creates a large amount of replayability as well, as you can go back and try each mission in different ways.
I have to say, the storyline was definitely the weakest aspect of the game. Although unique and interesting, the story seemed to be lacking something. I was missing that certain emotional connection to the characters that I feel when I am playing a game I really care about. Therefore, when someone died in the game, I didn’t feel affected by it. I can tell I’m supposed to feel sympathy for some of the characters, but I honestly don’t. Also, although the game encourages non-lethal ways to subdue your enemies if you want a happier ending, I doubt many people will choose this path. Taking the peaceful way gets extremely boring, and prevents you from using over half of the weapons and abilities you have at your disposal.
I had an issue with the difficulty of the game as well (I recommend anyone who has played an FPS before to play on hard). The difficulty of the game seemed to be dumbed down quite a bit. Even on the hard difficulty, my powers seemed to be much more powerful than any enemy I faced. I always knew that in any situation, I could easily teleport away to safety, or merely take control of the body of my attacker and simply walk away. I never really felt like I had to think outside the lines to get to an objective or kill someone.
All in all, the game was fun to play, but it had some key issues. The game never made me feel for the characters, and I also never felt the urge to NOT kill my enemies. The abilities and weapons were just too cool to not use! The graphics were also average, but I never really minded too much. I would give Dishonored a 7.5 out of 10. I was hoping it would’ve been a little better, but with a completely average game being a 5 for me, I was still thoroughly pleased with the game. I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed Bioshock, or who loves to play stealth games.