Breaking new! A few days ago I learned that my super-cool-reader-count has doubled since my last assessment. That's right, there are now TWO awesome people who visit this website with some semblance of frequency. Oh yes, these are exciting times! And in an effort to appease this new constituency, I was able to take advantage of the most recent Steam sale to acquire - and subsequently review - Dishonored. I realize this deviates a little from my usual modus operandi with these reviews and how they're supposed to be about old games, but let's face facts. Dishonored may not be old, but with the frenzy of new releases we've seen for the past few weeks, it's certainly no longer the new kid on the playground. In truth, it's more like the kid who sneaks around in a perpetual game of hide-and-seek against people who don't know they too are playing; and in any case, it's been completely worth breaking trend for.
In a nutshell, Dishonored champions three elements that have been integral to my enjoyment of the game: story, gameplay, and environment. If you're wondering what else could contribute to a good game, the answer is not much. Bethesda is known for making good, well-rounded games, and so far, this is another. Even though I've barely scratched the surface with this game, I'm already interested to see whether these elements remain strong throughout and how they change over the course of a playthrough. I'll start with the story.
Good Heavens, just look at the time!
As I said, I'm not very far into the game so the story is still very infantile, but I can speak a little on the initial experience of being Corvo. The game doesn't waste any time letting you know why it's called Dishonored. In the first couple hours I went from being a championed grand protector to a wanted master assassin. Part of me thinks this happened a little too fast and a little too abruptly, but I can also see some reason and reality behind it. Your world has been turned upside down, and now you're forced to reconcile the person you were against the person you need to be in order to do your duty and - ideally - clear your name.
There's a part before your first mission where a woman asks you to try and protect her father who works where you are going. She says, "You used to to protect people, didn't you?" At that point I remember wondering, "When did I stop doing that?" Suddenly I'm outfitted with all this gear, a creepy mask, and people are expecting me to be this great killer of men. There was a disconnect there; in my time as Corvo, I wasn't introduced to that capacity for killing within me. And maybe that was done on purpose. Maybe that change was supposed to be jarring, and at that point you have to decide what you are going to be, an assassin or a protector.
Interestingly, the gameplay seems favors both approaches in conflicting ways. Combat consists of dual-wielding a razor-sharp knife in your right hand and a pistol, mini-crossbow, or magic spell/item in your left hand. You are never without something that can kill someone, and you are generally holding two somethings that can each kill someone. So far the crossbow has three different load-outs and only one of those is non-lethal. And everything works very well together. You can slow down time and simultaneously hack and shoot up a crowd of bodyguards. You can blink above someone and assassinate them from the air. All very cool and all seemingly encouraged. However, the environment you're in favors discretion over wanton slaughter.
So you're telling me that this is something that's frowned
upon, but I'm never able to put my knife away... ok...
The environment actually gets worse with the more people you kill. The plague affects more people, there are more swarms of ravenous rats, and guard patrols are increased as the city falls farther into martial law. I don't even remember this being overtly mentioned in-game. I only noticed it in a random tutorial explanation for "chaos", which is one of your ratings at the end of a mission. Things like this make me really glad I picked this up, because I'm really excited to see how everything ends up working together and what the story evolves into. I don't know if it's going to be the game I've heard a lot of proclaim it to be, but it's off to a good start.