Gamers, in Dishonored you assume the role of Corvo Attano, a protector of the Empress in the Victorian style meets industrial revolution city of Dunwall, a rotting, grimy city with a decimated population due to a plague reminiscent of the Black Plague that swept Europe during the medieval ages. In this world, Whale oil is the life force of the city that powers the city streets and lines the pockets of the nobility with cash. With a city plagued with disease it doesn't help the guys running everything are some of the most corrupt individuals to ever appear in a video game. This is a world of scheming, backstabbing, political maneuvering, and power struggles between those with the right heritage and all the poor sobs caught in the middle as they die in the streets. Rats gotta eat too, ya know. As the protector of the Empress, you fail to prevent her assassination and are wrongly accused of the crime. Hence, Dishonored. Corvo doesn't take kindly to being the pawn in a political game. And neither should you. So help a guy out, take the reins, avenge the Empress, save the heir, and reclaim your honor. Should be no problem. For those who already know you want the game, check it out on Amazon For the rest of you who aren't sure yet, read the review and decide for yourselves.
Dishonored Trailer Youtube vid by GamesRadar
Pretty much Bioshock with a Twist?
Dishonored has been compared to Bioshock by several reviewers and gamers. And as you play, the reason why will quickly become apparent. Your supernatural powers are executed in one hand and your physical abilities, such as parrying attacks and slitting the guy's neck, are done with the other hand. Many of the abilities even look and feel like Bioshock. And while the two may be similar in both look, feel, and even execution, this is by no means a bad thing. But for me, what truly makes Dishonored feel like Bioshock, is the choices granted to you in terms of how to deal with the various and dynamic situations and circumstance, whether it's how you get from A to B, or how to dispatch your foe. Dishonored is about player choice.
Dishonored Gameplay Choices
So, how exactly does Dishonored gift you with so many choices? Let's start with the broadest example: How you complete a level. Here is one example. In Dishonored, you are more than welcome to go in, gun, knife, and powers blazing. Charging up your power, throwing a guy off a balcony to his death, and then block the next guy's strike before counter attacking and stabbing him in the neck. You hear a noise behind you.
Snapping around, you spot two more guys, each holding a guy pointed at your pretty face, reflexively, you slow the passage of time, maneuver around the gunmen, shoot em in the head and watch as they collapse when time rights itself.
You hear more men coming through the door. Quickly, you teleport up to the rafters and wait. Three men come in, they spot the bodies, you drop down and hide, waiting for the opportune moment. When two of the three guards aren't in a position to see you, you sneak behind the third and choke him out, pick up his body, teleport back up to the rafters, and hide your unconscious luggage.
Next, you teleport back down, place some devilishly brutal traps, hide, create a disturbance, and when the remaining two guards come searching, BOOM, lights out. In other words, you can kill every last soul in a level in whatever manner you deem fit. Or, you an use stealth and eliminate targets one by one without anyone being the wiser. You can even complete the whole game without killing anyone (at least not directly).
Dishonored Stealth Gameplay Youtube vid by IGNentertainment
Careful What You Wish For
Another great thing about Dishonored is that your action have consequences that carry over from one mission to the next. Say for example you ravaged and dismembered every living soul and destroyed just about everything that could be blow to smithereens in the first two missions. You can expect security will be doubled and the guards will be ever vigilant(Okay, many are still morons for the most part, but they can spot you easier), and your chances of success are diminished. And if you've suddenly had a change of heart and want to see if you're skilled enough to complete each mission without killing anyone, you can bet the task will be even harder with security up.
The missions in Dishonored will have you taking out targets of interest, mainly, the punks who had a hand in killing the Empress and throwing you in jail to later be executed. Just like normal enemies, you can choose how you take the guy out. As you progress through the mission, you can learn and research any of the target's other misdeeds. In an example provided by the developers in the demo, you can directly kill a target, rush in there and cut that smirk off his face, make it look like an accident with some faulty pipes and ventilation, or you can strip him of his identity and throw him in the slave labor camps he runs, see how he likes it. Again, it's all up to you. What does revenge mean to you? And how will you gain satisfaction?
Each of Dishonored's nine missions are diverse and almost never give you that sense of been there done that. One mission will have you infiltrating the manner of some rich noblemen and women by disguise, another will have you breaking out of confinement, another mission has you traverse through the slums of the dying city. For a sandbox game, you'll find you rarely have to do the same thing over and over again, and that's saying a lot considering some of the better sand box games out there can get a bit repetitive at times.
Mind Your Step
Even the way you traverse the world throws all kinds of choices your way. Indeed, the hardest thing about this game is decided just how you do it. If only all games were this frustratingly beautiful. For instance, there are parts of the city that are blocked by these electric gates that will vaporize anyone who doesn't have clearance. Do you teleport to the rooftops and get around like Batman or Spidey? Perhaps you'd prefer to possess a disease-carrying rat and slip by through a drain? Maybe you have some hacking expertise so you decide to hack the system and saunter on through. Or maybe you decide screw this and remove the coveted whale oil. Of course, you can do what I did. Hack into the system, get the attention of some guards patrolling the streets and sat back with some popcorn and soda as they all ran through the gate and incinerated instantly. Apparently it doesn't matter if you're 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th in line. The sight of your comrades electrocuted to death won't deter you....
Dishonored Gameplay Direct Approach Youtube vid by IGNentertainment
Brief Explanation of Dishonored Powers Bone Charms and Weapons
Let's talk about the powers in Dishonored. After starting out with Blink (The teleportation power I mentioned earlier) you can pretty much unlock any of the other nine main powers when you want, provided you find the runes hidden and scattered (at times in plain view) to unlock powers and upgrade them into more powerful versions. You can even combine powers and use them in tandem. For example, perhaps you want to jump higher and farther than you could before. And you're also upgrading Blink. So you jump from one building and use blink when you've reached the farthest distance you can jump. Suddenly you can get from A to B in record time.
Your weapons, such as your crossbow, pistol, grenades, etc are all upgradeable too so don't be afraid to experiment. Something oh so satisfying about Dishonored is combining your powers with your weapons. Go ahead and set up a razor spring near some enemies and then throw em into the trap with Whirlwind. Then all you have to do is enjoy the show.
One thing Dishonored could improve upon are the somewhat awkward controls. Sometimes climbing over ledges, snaking around, hurtling over an object, and awkward executions in some of the main actions you can perform, such as sneaking up behind a guy and choking him out, can feel clunky and sometimes I didn't do what I was trying. At first I thought I'm just failing in general, but after asking around, it appears I'm not the only one who has taken note of this. It doesn't happen all the time, but until you get the hang of things, can be take away from the experience.
In terms of story, I'd like to make a quick comparison. Dishonored is a visually striking game. The colors , shadows, lighting, and contrasts all work together beautifully in a way that sells the notion that such a world could exist under the right circumstances. It really does give a sense of the Victorian England meets the Industrial Revolution. Sometimes I stopped my stealthy kills to simply breathe in and appreciate the incredible art direction and overall feeling of the city, whether I was trekking through the slums, sneaking around a fortress, or working my way through a warehouse, or taking in the scenes by the ports. The overall story, by comparison, is somewhat bland. Nothing about it sticks out all that much and there was little driving the plot along other than simply wanted to know what happens next, not because I'm interested in the story arch, but because I just want to know what the next situation and underlying circumstances are and tailor my approach to meet my needs and take out my targets.
Dishonored Final Verdict
Dishonored is a superb video game and a much needed spin on what has become a somewhat predictable and mundane period in gaming. Of course there are those rare exceptions, and Dishonored ranks among the best. There are a few bumps in the road here and there, but nothing even close to denying you a unique experience to immerse yourself in. This is one of those rare games that is essentially what you make of it. Dishonored ears a well deserved 9 out of 10.