Dishonored is one of those games that comes along and sets the new standards. It pays clear homage to games before it, being strongly reminiscent of Deus Ex and Thief. Dishonored is no doubt a game to be remembered, with stunningly well-crafted visuals and extreme attention to detail. The game was filled with nooks and crannies and I was unable to find everything there was in each region, even after intense searching.
The protagonist is Corvo, an assassin and personal bodyguard of the Empress of Dunwall and her daughter Emily. Dishonored begins with Corvo returning from a trip to nearby towns and cities looking for support, and comes back to the Empress with bad news. Assassins ambush the three as the Empress is reading the letter Corvo had given her. One assassin, dressed in red unlike the other assassins, kills the Empress and kidnaps Emily while Corvo is unable to help. Corvo is found by himself with the Empress’ bloody body and he is thrown in jail, where he breaks out six months later. Now that Corvo’s free, he seeks to restore his name and kill those who destroyed his life.
Crovo gets brought into the Resistance, an underground group of people looking to overthrow the Lord Regent, the man who assumed the Empress’ position after she was murdered. The Resistance works out of a bar in an abandoned district of the city. The Resistance knows the Lord Regent is the one who plotted the Empress’ assassination, and they want to use Corvo’s innate ability to sneak and eliminate to get back at the Lord Regent and give Emily control over Dunwall.
Dishonored’s missions are all pretty similar, following the cast of assassinating a specific target. But, there are side missions, often offered by characters in that region or by Resistance members. These may include sabotage or intelligence gathering. Although these don’t have the largest impacts to the story, they often reward “Bone Charms” or “Runes.”
Dunwall is a great example of how a steampunk environment should look. It’s built upon the industrial-1800’s feel and the clockwork look of every machine in the game. The mask Corvo receives from a Resistance member shows the strongest resemblance to the hard metallic appearance of steampunk, as it is made of metal with some glass lens and looks to have the general visage of a human. Throughout Dishonored, a warm color pallet complements the paint textures of the terrain while there are enough brass and shiny accents to really pull in the steampunk style.
It’s impossible to put Dishonored under the title of “linear” because it is simply not; there are multitudes of possible paths to take or alternate ways to handle each confrontation. In example, there’s a light-gate (a field of energy that vaporizes every living thing that goes through it except for the guards) Corvo needs to get past. This is the first time that he is actually presented in a situation where there are many visible ways to go: Corvo can possess a guard and walk through, then hop out; destroy the power source, temporarily shutting it off; rewire the machine so it vaporizes the guards and not you; climb over a wall; go the long way through gangster-filled streets; or possess a rat and go through a vent system. It all depends on the powers that are unlocked and a personal preference for violence.
Combat is an intricate system of blocks, strikes, gunshots, and bloody kill-moves. You can dual-wield a sword with an auxiliary item, like a pistol, crossbow, magic or explosives. And if combat isn’t your thing you have hands and feet for scaling almost surface, and the blink power (if you unlock it) which teleports you within a certain range instantly.
If you manage your parries and strikes well while using your miniature arsenal of weapons, you can easily handle a few guards all by your lonesome. With a few strikes, a block here and there, you can easily take off a limb or decapitate your foes with brutal kill moves. I was a bit surprised at this aspect, as I had never expected to decapitate someone in such an extreme fashion. Regardless, the combat always seems satisfying no matter how you handle each encounter.
If you combine stealth with a pistol, grenades, spring-wire traps (mines that explode into an amazing swirl of razor wire and slice everything to shreds), and the crossbow (which can be upgraded), you have a deadly combination. There are numerous vantage points scattered around each portion of the city that you can leap from and then smash an enemy with a drop assassination for an instant-kill and no fall damage.
In Dishonored, Corvo is gifted with superpowers after meeting “The Outsider,” a god-like being, in a dream. All Corvo has to do to expand his powers is collect pieces of whale bone (yep, whales are pretty important) called “Runes” until he has enough to unlock another power. These are usually pretty cool, one ability allows you to stop time and some others let you teleport, possess people, summon rat swarms that eat people alive (very terrifying to watch), and other things.
The capabilities are endless, and that’s one trait about Dishonored that really makes the game worth playing. There are so many ways to sneak around, climb, or ways to attack that the game just opens itself up for exploration. It requires a little bit of out-of-the-box thinking to find all of these possibilities. For example, I never thought to look up at the buildings around me and once I did I realized that there were exposed apartments and other walkways that I could get to and find extra hidden loot.
Up in one of those apartments I found a “Bone Charm.” They make a strange sound that’s similar to creepy breathing so you may stumble across one, or you can use a device fromt he Outsider to track them down. Bone Charms add effects as long as they are equipped. Some of these effects are things like extended health and faster power regeneration. Although you start with a carrying capacity of three, you can still get a lot of effect from them (and later on upgrade to carry six).
Once the possibilities of all the customization is combined with the mask, the gear, the powers… the game becomes a playground and one so very worthy of your time. So whether you’re a sword-wielding pistol-blazing juggernaut or a sneaky assassin who works from the shadows, you’ll have a wonderful time. Or… you can avoid killing completely (that playstyle took the longest for me). All of your actions have a direct effect on the ending you received, and to be honest, the pacifist ending was the one I was most satisfied with.
- Incredibly creative design
- Excellent sound quality
- Immersive graphics
- Flowing combat
- Enthralling and motivating story
- Low detail textures
- Half-attentive AI
- Sometimes sticky controls
- Some occasional physics glitches
- There’s lore, but it’s not readily visible