Dishonored is one of those games that came out of nowhere unless you check the game news and the E3 coverage daily, like I’m sure most gamers do to be honest. I don’t think anyone would have even looked twice at it without game-play footage – if it didn’t carry the Bethesda name. Bethesda has a habit, for good reason, of making things popular.
I never paid much attention to it until a few months before release. I was in GameStop pre-ordering some game, don’t even know what to be honest. Darksiders 2 I think, or maybe I thought I had pre-ordered Darksiders 2 but then my guy at GameStop was like, no man you pre-ordered Dishonored – then I said oh, ok. I just remember I was like yea sure it’s Bethesda, I’ll pre-order.
I haven’t actually picked my game up, yet. I torrented the game to play it because my car was in the shop and I don’t feel like spending money on games (Note: Just pre-ordered Assassin’s Creed 3 Limited Edition). I will though. I want a legit copy and the achievements.
So this is by Arkane Studios, and I’m sure no one ever heard of them. They made Arx Fatalis, a game I’ve never played, or heard things about. It’s their second game. Dishonored got a 9 out of 10 from most people so I’d say Arkane is pretty happy.
Anyway, excuse my lacking writing structure here because I don’t care and this is stream of consciousness. Dishonored is this game that combines Assassin’s Creed with Thief and Bioshock. It’s an “open world” stealth assassination game about a dude who gets framed for murdering the Empress, in the midst of a plague that is killing the entire empire, and the subsequent unraveling of the empire. You get to decide how you play through the game. Do you kill everyone? Do you knock them out? Do you disappear your targets to a mine half a mile below the earth instead of murdering them? Do you actually read all the documents? Do you crossbow them in the face and bolt their severed head to a wall while their body gushes blood somewhere nearby on the street?
The game was touted as being steampunk but it isn’t really. Every so often you’ll see something kind of steam-punk like a tallboy but that’s about the extent of it. Dishonored takes place in kind of a Victorian 18th century island group the size of Britain, an empire that relies pretty much entirely on whaling for everything. You never get to see one of the fabled beasts, major negative points for that by the way. Their “oil” is used to power all the electronics (the ones that can kill you anyway) and it also explodes – though when they say it’s volatile, they’re full of shit. It barely causes a bigger explosion than an explosive bullet.
If you play it and you start to feel like the game looks like Half-Life 2, despite being the Unreal engine, there’s a good reason. The art director of Half-Life 2 worked on this game, or so the internet says. However, it becomes annoyingly obvious because everything starts to look like City 17, especially the coastal areas. That’s not to say the art isn’t good because the Dishonored world is beautiful, even the destroyed and dirty parts. The old-school advertisements and posters lend a lot to the environment and overall it looks like the rusty, not so clean society that most sci-fi has come to be about. Note: Shut up and die if you are going to go “It’s not sci-fi there’s no science behind it.” It’s sci-fi. Science fiction isn’t about the science, it’s about the fiction. If you say whale oil somehow powers Tesla coils, it’s fine with me, I have the good sense to enjoy things.
The BioShock elements come into play when you get magical powers from the Outsider. You collect Runes inorder to purchase and upgrade new abilities like Blink, Slow Time, Devouring Storm, and others. In order to do that the Outsider gives you this nifty heart that shows you the indicators for runes/bone charms and beats faster as you get closer. As the game progresses, you get extremely fond of those powers – especially blink, as Blink is mandatory for travelling. While not all of the powers are useful or wonderful, there are four major powers that are: Dark Vision, Blink, Slow Time, and what I’m going to call force push because I don’t care what the name was.
The Assassin’s Creed comes into play because you can vault and climb pretty much everything, with the exception of some unreachable rooftops or things that kill you when you climb on top of them. Unfortunately this is where one of the downsides of the game comes shows its face. When I put quotations around open world, it’s because the game world isn’t open. It’s open in terms of each mission. Per mission, you go to a certain area which is pretty large and you can go back and forth between any sub-areas inside of it. However, to get to those mission areas you have to get a boat ride – which is not optional and not accessible without a mission – and that boat ride is the only way to get to any area except for the Hound Pits. So the game isn’t actually open world, it’s very linear in terms of where you can go.
There are a few other things which prevent this game from being on the scale of Oblivion or Morrowind or Fable or many deeper games – and I know this is a stealth game so it isn’t necessarily supposed to be Skyrim. First of all, you can’t just go out and interact with society. You need a mission, as I said. Granted, most of society doesn’t want to talk to you anyway and you’re an outcast because they think you killed the empress – at least some of them do. You either do the story, or you don’t play. I know this is a stupid example but there’s a mission where you go to the “bathhouse”(whore house) and you don’t even get to have sex. You don’t even get to see any of the females without them freaking out.
What is the point of prostitutes in a game if you can’t have sex with them? Or was that supposed to be an artistic statement? They are literally objects in the game. Objects who talk and cower and hide, but do nothing else.
Another thing that really bothered me about the depth of the game becomes apparent after you play more than an hour. The guards only have 5 lines that they ever say.
“Do you still think you’ll get your own squad after last night?”
“Should we gather for cigars and whiskey tonight?”
“Indeed. I believe so.”
“I have kids, derp der.”
Any other dialogue the guards say is based on finding bodies, or attacking you, or discovering you. The interesting dialogue is left to the named characters. I want more dialogue. It doesn’t convince me not to kill guards when they are all just clones of each other with nothing interesting to say and they are indistinguishable. It didn’t ruin the game obviously, and the game is only like 10 hours long at best. but it would have been nice. Other than that they did a good job of creating an immersive world – that and the lack of whales. You get to see a picture of one but never a whale. (The dead floating whale in Outsider land does not count).
Depending on what you do in the game, the world changes around you. If you kill people, the plague and the rats gets worse. If not, apparently things are okay in the streets. It adversely affects the ending but so far I only got the kill everyone ending, so I haven’t seen the others. The frustrating thing, though, is that you reach a point where not killing people is impractical. For example, in the last mission, theres a platform with an arc pylon and 3 guards near it. If you rewire it, it kills everyone. If you blink to the power source and take it out, all three guards see you and you have to kill them anyway (or run away, but then you don’t get points for no detection).
Maybe I am expecting too much RPG element from a stealth Thief type game. Either way it’s a really good game, and I hope the DLC makes it better. I give Dishonored a 9 out of 10.