An industrial city has gone dystopia, because of a plague which is spread by the rats has infected and killed many and brought misery to the people of Dunwall and the corruption is tearing up the ranks of the Empress’ royal guard. You are the Empress’s royal bodyguard Corvo Attano (badass name) who has returned from a journey in search for a cure for the ongoing plague. After a brief introduction to some major characters you have a quick chit-chat with the Empress and BOOM; you are thrown straight into the action. The Empress is assassinated and you are framed for it. You are sent to jail from where you eventually escape with the help of a “friend”. You learn who are the traitors and what their motive was. And through playing the game you will unveil the truth about the plague and the intentions of the assassins.
The story isn’t very compelling. With the hasty start putting you straight to the action you have little to no background or emotional bond to anything and even Elena, the empress’ daughter and the mandatory kidnapped victim you will have to save, stays blank. The story has you travel to varied locations ranging from prisons and sewers to high-class palaces and brothels and since every map has its own atmosphere and art style, it makes Dishonored a gorgeous looking game. But in itself it’s a boring and a predictable plot, even with its multiple endings.
Dishonored has nine missions overall. After the initial betrayal and escape from prison you will be acquainted with the “loyalists”. A resistance group who are against the current corrupted government and want to place Elena on the throne. But in order to do that, some people have to disappear in one way or another. That’s the dirty job of Corvo.
The basic mission structure of Dishonored is first you will be transported from the resistance’s base of operations, a pub, to the mission’s start, after that it’s your call how your approach will be: Sneaking in the dark, quietly dashing through the shadows towards the target and dispose of him or go crossbows-blazing and fight your way leaving dozens of bodies behind. After the deed is done you return to the pub via boat to get your next assignment.
Luckily the missions itself are a joy to play. After the first two semi-strict missions which are played on the same map are pretty straight-forward teaching you the basics, Dishonored really opens up.
Corvo is already a silent shadow so him getting supernatural powers seems unfair, right? Actually no. In the beginning you meet a mystical infidel god, who has really no purpose other than to give you powers. His role is left shallow, but I would have liked to have his role to been more fleshed out. The first ability you get is Blink which gives you the power to quickly travel a short distance, and a living heart, which helps you find magical objects. You can collect two types of magic: 1) Bone charts that are always active and give you some bonuses like more effective powers or reduced fall damage. 2) Runes that are used to level up your magic powers.
You can unlock multiple powers with the Runes for example slowing time, seeing enemies through walls, posses other creatures or summon blood-thirsty rat swarms. Every power can be upgraded thus making them more powerful. Once you use a power it will drain, depending on the power, a bit or a lot of your mana gauge. If you then wait, the gauge refills back up, but using it constantly will drain the gauge more and won’t refill to the top. So, you won’t be overpowered: You can use low mana powers sparsely or go all out with your powers, but when you run out of mana and you’re surrounded with enemies, it’s gonna be tough escaping.
And after receiving superpowers, you can still make yourself more dominant by finding blueprints scattered around the world and then purchasing upgrades for your weapons and equipment eg. more ammo capacity, sleep darts or booby traps. But, while playing, remember to look for money and other valuables to steal, so you can actually afford to buy them.
The way you play the game affects the outcome of the story. If you sneak your way, minimizing casualties, you will have an easier time on your latter missions. Then again, killing your way through will make it momentarily easier, but the future missions will have more security and a lot of Weepers, which are basically towns-folk turned zombie because of the plague. It’s just so rewarding eliminating only your key target without anyone noticing. And to find the non-lethal way is even more satisfying. It will take more time and effort, but you will get a feeling of accomplishment afterwards, not to mention a trophy/achievement. Also, the actions you make actually affect your Chaos meter and depending on it, you will see one of three different endings to the game, but like I said earlier, they’re predictable and don’t have much value.
It’s noticed developer, Arkane Studios, assumed the default play style would be stealth since, even though shooting with cross bolts and incinerate pistol rounds is fun, the basic combat not so much. Swinging your sword and blocking feels mundane with no real challenge, though the finishing moves that let you swing an enemy’s head off looks nice.
Also sometimes the enemy AI will be out-right stupid. They are clever when hearing you hitting something with your sword and come investigating, but their patrol routes are not wise and they’re occasionally blocking each other and they will just stand there without moving anywhere, possibly blocking even your route, despite how hard you’re hitting that metal cage. Then again, the possibilities in the world are massive, so little hiccups are understandable.
Overall Dishonored is a great game. Having such freedom on choosing how to tackle each mission is fantastic and the supernatural powers give a real nice spice to the gameplay, but unfortunately the weak plot, hollow sword fighting and somewhat annoying AI bring the game down and holding it back to reach its full potential.
Score = 85%
Will you play it in 12 months = No
Kari (The Platinum Stig) Karbaasi92