Dishonored, from Bethesda Softworks, is a dark tale set in a world that melds a renaissance world with the arcane in a seamless way to create a living environment. This is a single-player experience that allows players to determine the style in which they want to play. For instance, as a stealth assassin that only kills when there is no other way, or as a demon that strikes from the shadows and leaves trails of blood in his wake. The game then monitors choices and reacts to your character accordingly.
Kill too many people and the people of the city of Dunwall will start giving you a hard time. To incapacitate is more compelling to the people, but the game gives the player so many great weapons that it seems a shame to not explore their full potential.
The set-up for the game is relatively simple. Dunwall, like so many other cities in the world, is overrun with plague and rats. Corvo, the trusted bodyguard of the empress, has been sent to allied cities to find out if anyone has a cure for this blight, only to return without anything of substance. He is greeted by the empress’ charming daughter, and then the empress herself. The empress cuts short her meeting with Dunwall’s spymaster to chat with Corvo and it is during that chat that assassins overwhelm Corvo, murder the empress and kidnap the daughter.
The spymaster is behind it, it seems, and Corvo is naturally blamed for the murder. He is tortured and sentenced to hang. This is, of course, all part of a plot to seize the throne and control Dunwall. There are those that oppose the takeover and Corvo is freed. Not only does he get some very nice gear, but arcane forces bless him (or curse him) with some skills that make him a very dangerous and deadly individual.
The game handholds players through the basics that weave up through the prison break, and then launches the gamer out into the world. That is when the fun truly begins.
Dishonored is an involved tale, where what would appear black and white shifts to shades of gray. The controls have a bit of a learning curve. Sometimes they require multiple steps like when trying to move forward, a player must hit the duck button, navigate direction with the mouse and then hit a power slide button. It can feel less than fun and more like intensive finger acrobatics. That aside, this title really asks the gamer to make some serious choices about the direction that he or she will take Corvo, and expects the player to understand the consequences. In that vein, remember to save progress often.
For those that like the look and feel of Morrowind or any of the Elder Scrolls titles, you will likely be very comfortable playing Dishonored. For those that have yet to experience the first-person perspective in a rock-solid role-playing game, Dishonored is recommended.
The world is immersive, the storyline is solid and the mood of the game pulls players in and makes the adventure feel personal. In short, it is a role-player’s dream—if they like first-person perspectives. The graphics are great, the story is superb and the action is frenetic at times, and enjoyable. It really doesn’t matter if you go with the stealth element or simply whip out the crossbow and blades and carve your way through. Both ways to play provide challenges and entertainment.
There were a few occasions when the game’s video went black and while the sounds of the game were still seemingly uninterrupted, the game was not playable. Video drivers were updated, but looking at the system specs is recommended. Do not try to play this game with older drivers either. While you can tone down the graphics without really infringing on the gameplay, the whole mood of the game is severely interrupted when you have to reboot your system.
Some of the control combinations are a bit complex.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Dishonored may have a tale of vengeance at its heart, and may play out with the general feel of an Elder Scrolls game, but it has its own unique personality. The word ‘immersive’ is often overused in describing games, but it is appropriate here. There were many occasions when anger welled up when thinking about the slain empress and her kidnapped daughter, when considering what evil men were doing to the world and city. There were also times when a sense of urgency prevailed and I found myself fighting the need to run ahead with a sense of caution that pulled me back into the shadows.
Overall, Dishonored is a terrific game and well worth the time spent in its world.