Release Date: Oct. 9, 2012
Genre: First-Person Action
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Arkane Studios
Available On: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
By TOM ALEXANDER, Staff Columnist
In Dishonored you are Corvo Atano, stalking your prey through the dank, rat infested alleys of the diseased plagued capital city of Dunwall working to avenge the death of your beloved Empress who’s murder you were wrongfully accused of.
In the beginning of the game you are returning from a diplomatic mission the Empress sent you on because she couldn’t trust anyone else. You meet Lady Emily, the Empress’ daughter, a perky young girl who runs into your arms and begs you to play hide and seek. Little interactions with the characters like this can change the entire storyline of your game depending on what you do. You meet the Empress just in time to watch her be murdered by teleporting assassins who kidnap Lady Emily and leave you to be framed for her murder. Luckily in the eleventh hour you are saved by a band of loyalists who take the role as your quest givers for the rest of the game.
The escape from prison is where you’re forced with your first decisions as to how you’re going to play the game. Will you choose to be non-lethal or will you choose to be a ruthless murderer? Will you struggle to hide bodies or will you slit throats and vaporize their bodies? This is where the game shines.
Click to jump to section:
- How will you play?
- Who will you be?
- Tricks of the Trade
- Will you feel remorse?
- The Verdict (with final score)
How will you play?
The way you play the game and how you complete your missions (“assassinations”) changes the whole outlook of the game and the ending you will see upon completion. You’ll notice I put assassinations in quotes because there is always a non-lethal way to complete a contract. If you choose to go the non-lethal route, people will react more cheerfully towards you, and you will get the best ending. But if you choose the murderous revenge filled rampage (which I did) you’ll see a city fall deeper into ruin.
Who will you be?
People already think you’re a monster, are you going to prove them wrong? The consequences of being evil are much larger than you first might think. At first you won’t really notice the differences in lethal vs. non-lethal apart from just fueling the guards to be more blood thirsty and a little more alert.
As more and more blood is spilled throughout the game you’ll notice more rats roaming the streets because there’s more bodies for them to feed on. Those rats will spread the plague to more of the unfortunate citizens that still inhabit the crumbling city turning them into zombie-esque Weepers. And eventually even Lady Emily will notice you coming back to the safe house covered in blood and have a darker outlook on life making comments upon your return home like “Did you kill them all? Good cause I was going to have them killed once I was Empress anyway.” What kind of 12 year old girl talks like that? One whose father figure is a mass murderer I guess.
The idea of choices changing the outcome of the ending alone isn’t enough to make this game a contender for game of the year; plenty of games before it have done it. The combat and the sheer amount of ways you can go about dispatching a crowd of enemies is where it really shines.
Tricks of the Trade
Early on in the game a man called The Outsider visits you and he bestows upon you supernatural like powers, the first of which called Blink, which is initially introduced as a way to get across gaps but soon you will realize this is one of the most useful tools in the game. Whether to traverse gaps, teleport across a doorway unseen or to come up behind an unsuspecting victim to stick your sword through their neck (or knock them unconscious if that’s the way you’re playing).
In all there are six supernatural powers that you can acquire, Blink, Dark Vision, Bend Time, Devouring Swarm, Possession and Wind Blast acquiring these powers will all include a different way to play and dispatch your enemies. The most useful combos I found were with Blink, Dark Vision and Bend Time. You can stop time, Blink to a group of enemies, assassinate a couple and Blink away before anyone realized what happened. There are so many combinations you can go about taking out groups of enemies I could fill a book.
Will you feel remorse?
I chose to play through the game assassinating every target and killing every guard (stealthily as possible of course) and as such my game took a turn for the dark. It’s pretty clear that developers, Arkane wanted it to be known that the best way to play through it was a death free adventure, but they wanted it to be your choice, and I applaud them for how they did this with beautiful execution. No game has made me feel bad about killing computer controlled artificial intelligence until now, no game has made me care enough to illicit that type of emotion from me. And I can’t help but cite the story and how your decisions shape literally every aspect of it as a main reason for how fantastic this game really is.
The huge variety with which you can choose to play truly is what sets this unbelievably unique game apart in a sea full of rehashed first person shooters where one just rips of the next. This game is perfect, from the beautiful storyline, to the flawless combat, and to the way your choices shape the entire course of the title. It’s pretty early to call Game of the Year but I would be very surprised if Dishonored doesn’t earn that award.