Reviews// Dishonored

Posted 8 Oct 2012 05:01 by
Dishonored is delightful. The kind of strange, crawling delightful that gives you dark dreams and makes you twitch. Like meeting your favourite horror writer and discovering they ingest water bears to clean the fecal matter from their intestines. You know...

It's a quiet epic of strategy and assassination.

You play Corvo, the bodyguard of the Empress of Dunwall a faded alternate history place of criminals and disease. While Dunwall is cut off from the outside world in an attempt to contain its plague, the Empress is assassinated, Corvo framed and his mistress's daughter, Emily, taken. The night before he's to be executed Corvo is led to escape and from there he/you must use his/your skills in the art of murder to get Emily back and restore the rightful royal lineage.

I want to say 'Dishonored is a stealth game', but that doesn't really do it justice. I played it as a stealth game, but it's open enough that it really does encourage you to play the way you want to play. And I write this as someone who is sick to fucking death of publishers telling me I can 'play the way I want to play'. Because it's not normally true, is it? Or, at least, there are rarely as many approaches to a given situation as ActiArts' PR department wants you to believe.

In the case of Dishonored, though, there really are a lot of options open to you. The environments are pretty substantial, for starters. It's not quite an open world moving from one area to another gives you a load but the chunks of Dunwall you navigate are substantial enough that you rarely feel funneled in a particular direction.

They're... er (sorry) pretty 'vertical', too. In an actual, meaningful way. They're not just made up of buildings that might as well be solid blocks, you can actually go in a lot of them. And you can't automatically climb them as you might in Assassin's Creed or inFamous. Getting around requires actual thought and planning. A short-range teleport called a 'blink' certainly helps, but it will only get you so far.

So, faced with a given mission assassinating a noble you're assured is a bad bloke, for example you'll have to decide whether you want to find a long way round to their location, see if you can make it across the rooftops, look for a low route (possibly through tunnels) or go straight for them. And, if you go straight for them, will you try to stick to cover and remain unseen, stealthily kill everyone in your way or (and you're a better gamer than I if you can pull this off) go straight down the middle, fighting everyone as you go.

E3 2012
E3 2012
All of the above are legitimate choices you could make. All could be successful, depending on the particular mission, your skills as a player and the way you've developed Corvo's supernatural abilities and armory.

The choices you make in acquiring powers (provided by the mysterious, corporeal Outsider) have a genuine impact on how you're able to tackle things. Powers such as Dark Vision and Blink work better for quieter, evasive play styles where Bend Time (bullet time, really) or Windblast are more offensive skills.
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