Events in Dishonored takes place in Dunwall, an industrial city surrounded by plague where steampunk- inspired technology and otherworldly forces coexist in the shadows. It’s a scenery that we are not used to see in a game, unlike for example the Normandy shores, which feel like our second home.
As we already said you play as Corvo, the once-trusted bodyguard of the beloved Empress who has been murdered. Shortly before you’re due to be executed, Loyalist forces help you escape and set you on the path to restore the Empress’ daughter, Emily, to the throne. The Loyalist forces will give you a variety of targets – some political, some personal – that need removal.
Action in Dishonored is divided in 9 main missions that incorporate many side quests. The main mission requires you to take down a key person (just like Hitman, and Assassin’s Creed), while the side-missions are here not just to make the gameplay richer but also help the story progress.
Corvo’s vengeance can take many forms. Dishonored is generally a stealth game, but the strategy you will follow in the game depends on your style. You can stay in the shadows, and kill smoothly every target, or you can slaughter everyone on your way, something not totally recommended. If you want to avoid coming face to face which guards and “hunters” you will have to thoroughly investigate every level in order to find the paths that will let come closely to your enemy in the most painless way.
Compared to other stealth games, where if someone understands your presence, your mission fails, in Dishonored you are given the chance to escape or face your enemies, reminding you the good old days of Thief: Deadly Shadows. What also helps your stealth strategy is the ability to teleport, slow down the time, and posses a human or a rats body.
These special abilities are gained by collecting Bone Charms and Runes which can be found in the weirdest locations, but are tracked with the help of a living heart Corvo carries in his inventory. Even with special powers to pass unnoticed from your enemies is not an easy task mostly requiring a lot of trials and errors and regular saving. This is mostly because of your enemies’ AI. There are times where Corvo is tracked where under normal conditions shouldn’t, and the other way round. You’ll also notice after a lot of studying in the game that guards are on specific patrol, making it easier to avoid them, but other enemies move generally randomly. This randomness that at times makes things easy and at times extremely difficult, is the only fault we can find in the game.
Dishonored’s Combat portion is equally original as the stealth. There your sword, and other weapons like arrows, pistols, grenades, deadly traps are on the forefront. Just like Corvo’s super-powers these weapons can also be upgraded with coins found here and there, giving a touch of RPG in the game. If you go with the action all the way prepare for a bloodbath as beheading and dissecting enemies is on a very regular basis. Corvo’s health can be replenished by collecting health elixirs and so does the mana bar that allows you to go supernatural.
It is worth to say here that choosing action instead of stealth is something not recommended, at least until you familiarize with Dishonored. NPCs are more leery, while corpses attract more rats, which trust us is not a good thing. Combining stealth tactics, with bits of action is the only viable solution if you want to stay long in the game. There are also some puzzles in the game requiring special moves, but are there just to add more variety to the gameplay.
What you should also be aware of is that the attacking approach you’ll take Dishonored affects the game’s ending. The more victims you kill, the more Chaos you cause in the city. Each level can be completed with either a High or Low Chaos level; High Chaos can lead to more guards, more plague victims, more rats, and a different ending. Dishonored will take you around 12 to 20 hours to complete,making it an honest and rich experience even without a multiplayer
Those of you were expecting the next Bioshock or Half-Life will be disappointed. Arcane’s title may borrow a lot elements from these games, especially in terms of design, but its gameplay experience is similar to the Thief and DeusEx series.
In an era where the gaming industry seems to follow the safe road, Arcade takes the risk and pulls of title that feels fresh and modern but also delivers that old hardcore twist. Dishonored is a beautiful game, with an interesting story, and deep gameplay. It’s a stealth game wearing which at times wears an action outfit, but doesn’t encourage to go either way, requiring the perfect balance.
The enemies AI sometimes may be below average, and some textures may not look as sharp, but that is just small talk, compared to its gifts. Most likely the high expectations we had for Dishonored make us a bit more strict regarding its flaws.
Dishonored is a title that packs a lot of personality and style delivering an experience which we feel was missing from gaming in the year 2012. Arcane has created not only one of the best single-player experiences in recent memory and a very strong contender for game of the year, but first and foremost an experience that every gamer who respects himself must live.
Gameconnect Rating: 9.2