Available On: Xbox 360 (Review), Playstation 3, PC
Genre: Action Adventure
Welcome back everybody. I’ll be the first to say it, TUG kinda died from October until the end of 2012. I’d love to give a real reason, but it really boils down to dumb reasons like being busy, work, apathy and the like. Maybe some of us were getting ready for the Mayan apocalypse early and didn’t want to spend their last days blogging. As you can tell, the world is still going, so it’s time to get back to TUG. We’ve talked about getting back into weekly posting come 2013, and I am personally excited for what can come. We have a new Gentleman coming in to join the movie reviews, this will allow me to focus solely on projects I have in motion for the video game side of things. I will still be doing the occasional Stuck Up Cinema, but I am going to mostly be working with video games from here on in.
I’ll let the other guys speak for themselves, but before I jump into my review of Dishonored I’ll talk a bit about the future of TUG and gaming. The ZLL reviews will continue, every Wednesday, but they will be slightly different than before. Instead of the long ranting reviews I am going to try and condense it all down to the review and eventually get to the point of video reviews in the future. Also every Sunday I’ll be posting a Let’s Play that crosses with another website I’m with ‘ST8 Plays’. I also know in the future us Gentlemen want to get together and work some Let’s Plays into our own blog.
I am really excited for the future of TUG and ZLL, but that is for another time; enough rabble about that, let’s get onto Dishonored.
You play Corvo Attano, once the royal protector of the Empress. Due to a conspiracy and your inability to defend her (apparently you’re bad at your job) you are sentenced to death for her assassination. A bunch of Loyalists break you out of prison, knowing your innocence, they use you as their pawn to getting power, exploiting your desire for revenge in the process. No points if you can figure out what happens when they get in power.
The story is paint by numbers but it is competent and moves it along at a reasonable pace. You can see all of the twists and turns coming, but the characters are interesting enough to get invested in, with only a few moments or characters coming across as wooden. There is one character who is really compelling, but you don’t see much of him, but he, Daud, may be a subject of DLC in the future. Corvo is a silent protagonist, which I’m not a fan of, it doesn’t help with my immersion, but some characters like Samuel, Havelock, Piero and Slackjaw more than make up for it. Overall the story is simple, and spends most of its time just sitting there as a set piece and not kicking you to the ground with compelling twists and turns.
This is what drew me into the game from the trailer I saw one day at EB Games. The game looked pretty and I loved the mix of Steam Punk, sword and steel, and the look of it all coming together in a gorgeous painting. You won’t notice it often, but there are times when you’re heading back to the hub world on Samuel’s boat and you’re looking around that you’ll realize ‘hey, this whole world looks like I’m in a painting’, then you’ll look back at Samuel and see the same texture on him. It’s pretty, and it fits in with the idea of the game, with paintings being collectibles hidden throughout the levels.
The atmosphere is also handled well, you’ll feel the hopelessness and desperation of the game as you’re making your way through the streets and the rooftops. You’ll notice quickly that the streets are empty apart from thugs, guards and infected citizens themselves. The infection is a big story point, spreading through rats that are infesting the streets. This infection plays back into the morality system of the game, which is supposed to make the atmosphere darker and more depressed, but you won’t really notice any sort of difference until the last mission of the game. Ultimately, that’s very disappointing, but I can’t let that take away from the game world before then. A bad morality system sucks, they always do, but the sound design and atmosphere of the levels as you make your way through them is awesome and completely engrossing.
The controls are simple enough and when you get into it you can use the quick wheel to jump between your powers and weapons quickly and efficiently. It feels great to have a room of guards before you and being able to get through the room, either killing them all or going through silently, with the utmost skill. It’s an easy game to get into and because of how the story comes together it’s a very easy pick up and play kind of game. The powers you get are awesome, the most used on is Blink which allows you to quickly teleport from point A and point B. Upgrading is done through collectible items within the levels and there are enough of them that you don’t need to worry about being stingy, you’ll get the upgrades you want even if you don’t do a lot of exploration.
Some other powers let you see through walls, stop time, possess people or animals, and summon an army of rats to tear apart any enemy you target. The levels are also made to allow for completely different paths upon replays. If you played that level two times and you think you found every path through, play them again and keep looking, I promise you there are more paths. There is an achievement for getting through the entire game without being seen, there are back routes in the back routes you’re already taking. The level design is surprisingly smart and is probably the biggest strength of the game. The controls and story aren’t complicated, but every level is well built. Your powers and your imagination is the limit to how you get through a level.
The bonus category is for any other sort of areas I liked in the game that I wanted to talk about beyond the three categories mentioned above. Story, atmosphere and gameplay are the three biggest parts of the game to me as a gamer, but this category is for anything beyond or involved in that. A little bit of the personal review.
For Dishonored, something that pushed it above some other games I played was one of the runs I did that involved not being seen in any mission and not killing anybody in the entire game. This included even the infected humans, I couldn’t be seen by or kill anybody. This provided a great challenge to a game that I thought I was done with challenge wise. The pacifist and ghost run was my third run, and I knew the levels quite well, but I still needed to find new paths through. It was a blast and the most fun I had with the game.
If you like stealth and are debating picking up Dishonored, this is what you need to do. Add it with going for the achievement of using no other powers but Level 1 Blink to make it even more difficult for you. If you played the game and you’re getting bored, try this run if you haven’t. The game is short, yes, almost painfully short, but these challenge runs ARE the replay value of the game. Over my 4 runs of the game, I got about 31 hours out of it and there is some DLC that was just released and some forthcoming.
TLDR: Dishonored is a simple game wrapped up in a pretty package. It’s short, but it’s very possible to get a good gameplay experience out of it if you try for it. If watching gameplay footage doesn’t entice you to play it, stay away from it.