Dishonored looks a bit like Halflife 2 – if the Difference Engine, cyberpunk, steam-punk and Brink had a wonderful get together in a lovely spa and some opposing countries commando’s had stormed it and the scarlet pimpernel turned out to be a ninja… OK, it is quite hard to describe, but the setting is very nice done. A sort of Steam-punk world where whale oil is the energy, gunpowder and mechanical geniuses have made lots of nice little toys to play around with and some sort of “magic/psionic” abilities.
The game has light walls, sealed of city cores, walkers etc. Making it a bit like Halflife 2’s dystopia future, only here it is driven by whale oil and instead of being a nerdy guy with a crow bar – you are an assassin, armed with his trusted blade, a hand-crossbow and your gun – some bone amulets and grenades, razor-wire traps and a mask to zoom and scare your enemies with.
All that is not so important however. It is not important either, that the game plays like DeusEx HR should have played – because Dishonored has two things that are simply really great:
– I started to play and I couldn’t really quit. It was hard to give up being Corvo trying to find the child of the empress he had seen slain before his eyes and been framed for the very murder. Now he discovers more as he joins loyalists that tries to rescue the empress child and restore her to the throne and get some bloody revenge on the same time.
How you deal with it is up to you. Going for all out killing the opposition – go ahead, but people will be more afraid of you and chaos will make more sleepers (the version of zombies) appear around the maps. You can sneak around and even let others do the dirty work, or you can not kill enemies and come up with different solutions if you’re crafty.
You will have to fight sooner or later so being a pacifist may be a risky and futile career option for an assassin – but the assassin can keep the killing to a really low minimum.
To help you with all this you have several powers to aid you. You get these by finding talismans and transferring them to powers. You find a bit like in Batman Arkham Asylum/City – with the help of a mechanised human heart that give you clues by whispering to you and point them out for you.
There is no overhead map and the help surely gives it entirely up to you to be ingenious or downright sodden efficient how you travel the distance between your let off on some beach by your boat friend Samuel – to how you chose to dispose of your targets…
To me, Dishonoured is the game of the year already and I already fear for the sadness that will strike once the game is done. But until that happens, the game itself is just a little treat in it self. The way you plot your moves, how you disposition your hard-earned powers and use them to speed you along your way is great. The first time you teleport up behind an unsuspecting victim, choke him unconscious and then blink away and hide him gives you a tremendous feel of accomplishment. And it doesn’t get old either. The only downside is that every time you have to fight – you feel like you lost or did something stupid.
Good that you can go back and replay all the missions and maps to try to get perfect scores and enough things you learn along the way to have some challenges to occupy you with some more play troughs. The achievement list is rather short – but makes more sense and the achievements actually inspires to more play troughs as well.
Graphics – 23. Dishonored doesn’t break any new walls with the sheer graphic splendour but it do take several scores in originality. The game is absolutely stunning that way: the clothes, the streets, the mansions the interior design and overall feel of the setting is marked beautifully in the graphics. A well designed style and even the almost grotesque/comedic look of the characters fit in fine.
Sound -20 The sound is good, characters are good, the voice actors help to bring life to the game. The small chatter and grumblings of the guards and villains you encounter help to flesh it all out. The positional aide isn’t marvelous, but it is OK to give you a headsup. Music score is rather unnoticeable in the game, so it helps setting a scene and foreboding when something is about to happen. The best thing is the environment sounds like gulls and stuff, too bad that the streets and most scenes are actually pretty dead silent though.
Game-play/Story – 25 As close to perfect as you can come. There are few games that I feel have the story and game-play that just begs to be played and where you don’t get into the over-planning mode of trying to squeeze what you can from the game-play Dishonored is such a game, I take my beatings and failures as lessons and strives on. I chose to kill the bad guys instead of dealing away the solution – simply because I feel that Corvo would really like to get revenge on some characters. In the same way, it feels OK to help the city folks from both guards and gang members alike. The little pleasant sound chiming for a good thing rendered without any real in-game benefits part from the feel good – is nicely done. Dishonored is definitely a game for you, to be played and told by you.
Controls/Quality – 21 Controlling Corvo with mouse and keyboard is fairly easy. The game have some quick keys, a quick menu for choosing and the UI is fairly easy and intuitive. When moving you feel pretty comfortable and even the fighting is OK. The most difficult part is to keep the sword and off-hand power/item in check. There are a lot of things you can do to interact and if you don’t have the controls by heart – you can easily fire a crossbow dart instead of carrying an unconscious person. Just saying. Still, after some practice the game is pretty fluent and I guess that mostly it is how you set-up your own preferences. Too few games have had dual wielding in that sense making it awkward to think right mouse button left hand action etc. Good then that you can bind every key how you want it – just as it should be.
Total score: 89 Dishonored is probably the game of the year already in my book. It is a game that shows DeusEX HR and other games how it should be done. It also shows that single player games are extremely powerful and much-needed. The only problem with Dishonored is that it will someday be over. The story and the maps can feel a bit short and if you don’t go to the extra trouble of exploring the game and finding focuses and whale bone amulets – I guess you can breeze through pretty quickly. Taking the “perfect” route could give you several hours of well planned execution of each and every map. The fact that you end a mission with seeing how many gold pieces you left behind, amulets, paintings focuses etc. begs you to play it again.