Well, it happened.
I wasn’t originally going to put games reviews on this blog, as I felt it may detract from the whole Steampunk and Victorianesque aesthetic I had going on here. But I do enjoy my gaming and Dishonored seemed like a perfect Steampunk crossover. So, welcome to my new game reviews section!
Dishonored is a role playing, first person stealth/combat game released late last year. You follow the story of Corvo, Lord Protector, after he is falsely imprisoned for the murder of his Empress. You receive a mystery letter asking you to meet with a covert organisation that intends to expose the true murderer; and seeming as they help you to escape, it seems like a fair proposal to accept. I shan’t say much more but the game involves a lot of running around, a lot of difficult decisions and one hell of a clever game mechanic.
As you play through the game, you have the choice to murder everyone in your path as you attempt to escape OR you can take your time, sneak around on the ventilation pipes and hide behind walls, and eventually make it out of each level without so much as alerting a guard to your presence. There seems to be a much better achievement payload for the second option… So I went with that one! And it certainly did provide a challenge. It took a lot of patience (something I’m not renowned for having) and a bit of quick thinking. But what’s incredibly clever about this good/bad mechanic is the punishment system. If Corvo goes around the city destroying everything in his path, more rats emerge from the sewers to devour the bodies and consequently infect more people; which means you have to deal with a lot more Weeper enemies. If you sneak around, this risk is minimised and there are less enemies to be wary of. So, the game actively encourages the player to choose the morally righteous path to avoid a more difficult play-through. This decision also effects which ending you get!
Dishonored was produced by a lot of the people that worked on Bioshock and RPG champions Bethesda, which really does show through the game’s design. You use a left hand magic/right hand weapon style of combat which is almost identical to the plasmid/weapon style seen in both Bioshock games, as well as incorporating the yellow glowing item outline seen in these games. Once this familiar connection was made, the casual chatter of the guards began to remind me of splicers and it became a lot harder to focus on being stealthy. Bethesda’s input really came to my attention when items were collected around the world of the game; the notification text at the side of the screen and the way in which interactive items were picked up within the game rang with the familiar tune of the Elder Scrolls games. But this is certainly not a criticism! These are elements that worked fantastically within their respective games and add the same effective gameplay to Dishonored without feeling ‘second hand’ or overly familiar. As a Bioshock fan, I found the mechanics comfortable and easy to use, which made it a lot easier for me to adjust to stealth based games. I’m not sure why, whether there were companies involved or simply by coincidence, but a few other elements of Dishonored reminded me of other games. The heart that you keep seemed so uncannily familiar to Potato GLaDOS (or Potatos) from Portal 2 that I couldn’t take it seriously, and the dialogue style seemed very similar to that of Rage. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but that heart will forever be GLaDOS in my mind.
Overall, I think that Dishonored is a beautifully constructed game with stunning graphics and environments. It’s engaging and challenging, providing a variety of opportunities for decision making and contains a gaming style to suit most gamers. There’s the combat option for the FPS gamers, the stealth mode for Assassin’s Creed fans, or even a mixture of the two for fans of games such as Deus Ex. The story is well constructed and interesting, not too grand that it becomes confusing but just complex enough to avoid boredom. I think the mechanics work incredibly well for the style of game and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I really would recommend this game if you’re a fan of: