- + Great sense of atmosphere, coupled with fantastic voice acting
- + Large amount of options on how to progress throughout each level
- + Unpredictability of your actions make for the best gaming moments
- - A tad short
- - No New Game+
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
If you had the choice, would you rather be a hero or a villain? Perhaps both? In Dishonored you get to make that choice. After four years of development, Arkane Studios has managed to break ground with a refreshing turn on open-ended gameplay.
My initial look at the title came a few weeks before its release via live stream hosted by IGN. Getting to see the plethora of options available to the player left me quite impressed, as every gamer was sure to have a different experience. Influence-wise it has clearly taken inspiration from games such as Bioshock and Assassin’s Creed, but most notably Deus Ex, although that’s not surprising given the development team comprises of a lot of the same people.
You play as Corvo Attano, trusted bodyguard to the Empress of Dunwall and her daughter, Emily. After being framed for the Empress’s murder and Emily’s abduction, Corvo is locked up and cast aside, while powerful men look to rule over the residing citizens of Dunwall.
Alongside this tragic turn of events lies a horrid plague, that’s slowly crippling the city while the rich fight to buy their safety and the poor are thrown aside to the gutter. There are nine areas in total, each with providing open-ended gameplay design, helping to make the player feel as though they aren’t restricted at all. With the help of someone only known as the “Outsider”, you’re endowed with supernatural abilities and look to seek revenge against those who betrayed you.
Similar to Bioshock your powers are upgradeable, but in order to gain better abilities you must collect items called Runes, which are hidden around levels. Powers range from being able to see through walls, stopping time or turning enemies into ash after killing them; therefore leaving the need to dispose of them.
Aside from your magic, equipment is also upgradable through the collection of gold and other valuable resources throughout the game. The different ways in which you can kill people are almost endless and often quite theatric, such as stopping time while an enemy is mid-shot, moving his bullet in front of him and enjoying the results post-pause. How about turning an enemies’ defence against them and watching as an electric barrier kills everyone who passes through it?
Despite many different ways to kill, none-lethal tactics are offered and can play just as an important part, allowing you to hide in the rafters or tranquillise people from a distance. Hiding bodies is also vital, although composing them together in provocative positions is much more fun.
Visually the game has a distinct cartoonish sheen, with a touch of realistic splatter whenever the blood hits the pavement. Voice work is also commendable, with conversations between guards changing depending on your actions throughout the game.
Remain stealthy through the story and there will be less mentions of your whereabouts, go guns blazing and everyone will be talking about you. It all comes down to the game’s “Chaos System”, wherein your actions affect everything; from the number of rats running around, to how many enemies patrol the streets.
Deciding to be a badass may not be the best idea if you wish to have considerably less hassle with resistance. Unfortunately there is no New Game+, meaning that all of the upgrades and items you acquire by the camaign’s close will be gone on a second play through. A shame, considering how many more options are available to you by the end.
Dishonored is unpredictable at times and that’s its strong point, as not once did the outcome of my actions ever stay the same. If I were to name one of the main faults, it’s that one or two levels near the end tend to lose the same open gameplay as shown at the beginning. If you’re into the Deus Ex series then I really don’t have to convince you to buy this title, as the same quality of gameplay can be seen throughout this game. The simple addition of being able to stop time makes for some genuinely inspiring changes in the way you perform kills, and the many routes of bypassing threats are an even more welcome addition. Place those two together with a great story and everything else falls into place.