In 2012 a crack bodyguard was sent to prison by a military court for a crime he didn't commit. This man promptly escaped from a maximum security prison to the Dunwall underground. Today, still wanted by the government, he survives as a member of the loyalist resistance. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire Corvo Attano.
No I haven’t been watching too much A-Team….well maybe I have but that’s besides the point. This week I have been playing ‘Dishonored’ a tale of revenge an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and evil for evil. Arkane have pulled out all the stops to deliver a game with excellent fiction with immersing and impressive gameplay.Check out the trailer for a more cinematic explanation of what going on in Dishonored.
With a little help form a friend you find yourself on the run best by a jail full of guardsmen. Its time to sink or swim and you are immediately offered two alternative play styles and all the tools you will need to walk both paths. These two play styles are the path of stealth (good) and the path of blood (evil). Depending on your play the way others perceive you and the ultimate fate of your cities future will be impacted.
Now I fully intended to take on the non-lethal challenge and play through the game as the hero pacifist out to save everyone and everyone after all the military were just following orders right? Well this lasted for about two K.Os then the rivers ran red. I clumsily got spotted while eating a sausage roll (Morrison’s for sausage rolls every time nom nom nom) I performed a perfect counter and the game advised me to gut the poor sod, I systematically beheaded my unsuspecting prey and was instantly in love with the fluid combat system.
There are so many cool abilities in this game that its almost an injustice to not try them out at the very least. There are some also really cool achievements involved in the lethal route and some stoppage time. Now that I’m on my second play through I’m going to stealth it up challenge for the title of the most cunning fox in the fox cunning competition.
I went at its guns blazing and I want to go back for round two, a game doesn't get higher a higher compliment that having someone immediately want to play it again. It is an incredible feeling when you get to play through a new IP that doesn’t fall short of a gamers expectation after we have been spoilt by AAA titles year after year. The last game I enjoyed playing this much was Dead Space 2! You will need to learn how to juggle your abilities to perform at your best, but learn quickly as the proverbial poopie hits the fan quickly.
Another thing I enjoyed throughout this game, I say enjoyed it I rather enjoyed the lack of it. I’m talking about little gimmicks that spoil games. You know what I’m talking about needless co-op that ruins your experience or silly little mini-games that are completely unnecessary and almost make light of the dark world your inhabiting. There is no time wasting, no money sinks, all you have are yourself the tools of your trade that you can upgrade, sprinkle in some dark magic you can improve with talismans and collectables and you got yourself a no-nonsense game.
Arkane decided to keep things simple with the numbers of powers you have access to, after all a one day bodyguard couldn't master the black arts over night right? Despite having only a few different abilities every single one is well thought out, extremely useful and lends itself to its own distinct play style. You will need to find collectables to unlock them all however, which gives purpose to exploring the streets and rooftops. All are fully upgradable to a second tier of awesome.
Weapon advancement is done slightly differently via stone cold cash and your own personal ‘Q’ builds and develops your weapons as and when you like. So if your a good scrounger you will get the best weapons. The game also instantly sells off any loot you pick up so then is no limited bag space of over encumberment to worry about...a nifty little feature.
So using a combination of magic and acrobatics you will be scaling walls, teleporting between towers, power sliding round corners firing off your pistol in slow motion and gutting anyone and everyone who gets in your way.
Alternatively if your more of a goodie two shoes you can creep and crawl your way to your goals, cover up your tracks see through walls and take the moral high ground from beginning to end. Pick one of the many paths that lay at your feet but choose carefully as there may be unseen consequences ahead.
Dishonored stops you in your tracks over and over again and will literally make you wait until the going’s good. You need to scope out the layout, make mental maps, pear through keyholes. This is at no time frustrating or laborious. The game forces you to slow right down and make informed decisions one wrong move and your rat feed. You are trying to be artistic so you spend time putting attention to all the details, Dishonored proves to be more a labor of love than anything in this respect. No game in a long time has kept my attention like this. If this were any other game I'd get frustrated and turn it off but I strangely become so involved in the gameplay and the importance of every minor detail that time spent gaining just one more room or corridors progression undetected is time well spent.
The game design is excellent; you can easily identify all the influences that have gone into this game. Some may criticize this as unoriginal but I feel that Dishonored is an excellent concoction of past titles. In fact I’d say you would be hard pressed to find a better example of any other title that has learnt form others better than this.
The backdrops and architecture are full of character and fully reflect the dark story and world of Dishonored. Character design is slightly cartoonish but with excellent expressions and body language and provides a great contrast to the backdrops. Sound quality and voice acting is great too and helps build tension and trust in equal measure.
Level design is well thought out and every little bit is a memorable as the last. I made my escape leaping down into water, braved a kennel as war hounds and fought the best assassin on the planet one on one. Each level is made up of magical moments. I made an awesome escape form a group of around ten guards. I slid round a corner blasted three of them with my upgraded pistol took a leap of faith out a window before the others could surround me and blinked to a roof top that seemed completely out of reach. It’s the stuff action movies are made of.
I’d actually love this game to be made into a movie, its that kind of game that can create awesome moments when you think everything is about to go to crap. If a door opens behind you, you accidentally fall through a whole in the floor or you don’t quite make the jump between buildings there is always a way to snatch back victory if you use your abilities right.
Before I blow too much smoke its not all-swashbuckling glory for Dishonored. I did have some gripes trying to line up my teleports to ledges. Sometimes it proved tricky to juggle that sweet spot and I often found myself falling onto power lines or nasty fish infested waste water. The AI was also a little inconsistent one moment I would be spotted from miles off while crouched behind some sand bags, the next I could be directly on the other side of a pane of glass with a guy looking right at me and get off clean.
This AI botch did add an element of fun and almost realism as every opponent (although unintentional) you come across reacts in a different way, which meant I always had to be extra cautious and not just abuse the set patterns of the AI to my own ends which would make the game more predictable. The high standards of the rest of the game make it necessary for me to point out these minor failings but I will happily over look them as I play the game back a second and third time to clean up the achievements. Having to replay the entire game is the only way to get all the achievements as there is currently no way to just select a level to go back to you have already bested to 100% it. You can however repeat a level if you didn't finish it to a satisfactory standard.
Dishonored has a steep learning curve that has simple and easy to understand tutorials both in game and through a select menu giving more in depth advice. Having two distinct play styles that evolve the game and its outcomes. The immersive story and solid gameplay are both refreshing and well thought out. I loved the game and I would highly recommend picking it up whether your going in with a flash of steel and guns blazing or with sleeping darts and subtlety. I truly can’t wait to see what DLC could be added.
I could easily write about so many other cool moments and little features but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you because the joy of the title comes form playing it, not reading about it! So fetch yourself a tank of whale oil and power up this supernatural steampunk adventure.
Excellent story with alternative moral choices
No crappy gimmicks
Effective character and graphical design
Good use of sound to build tension
Every ability and weapon is useful
Duel wield combat works well and is essential to the gameplay
AI has dumb moments
You can’t just pick a level to replay you need to start again
Teleportation can be finicky and is an essential skill
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