Publishers: Bethesda Softworks
Developers: Arkane Studios
Release Date: October 9, 2012 (NA), October 11, 2012 (AU), October 11, 2012 (JP) October 12, 2012 (EU)
System: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PS3.
Version reviewed: PS3
The images below are from the PC version of Dishonored. They were captured using Steam’s screenshot feature, which makes them lose some quality. If anti-aliasing is enabled in-game, for example, the images will look much less “jaggy”, and generally softer to the eye.
I must start off by saying all the hype this title received had little effect on me. The combination of Bethesda and PS3 almost led me to entirely bypassing Dishonored but I’m glad this is something I was able to experience, kudos to Arkane Studios! See, Toys R Us had this buy 2 get a $50 gift card promotion but they chose not to carry XCOM: Enemy Unknown. There was a nice lady there that helped explain their reasoning was that it wasn’t a well known title. Makes sense! With not too many choices I went ahead and got a copy of Dishonored. (From this point forward referred to as D…j/k.)
For a while now I’ve been immediately starting games on the “Hard” difficulty. There are a few reasons for doing so: 1. Not many titles are worthy of a second playthrough, playing on “Hard” ensures an optimal level of challenge while extending the duration of the playthrough. (Maybe that was 1 and 2.) 3. I’m not really bent on collecting trophies but it’s kinda cool getting two or three trophies in succession when a game is completed.
Dishonored, for me at least is not a title you just jump in on at a higher difficulty. I was getting frustrated to the point that I was ready to stop playing but alas I just opted to start over on “Normal”. Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t have been hard to hack n slash my way through but excessive killing leads to a less desirable conclusion.
Here’s a Story, ‘Bout Guy Named Corvo…
You play as Corvo Attano, the bodyguard of the Empress of Dunwall and apparently Emily’s (the Empress’ daughter) play-date. Early on you are witness to the Empress’ murder and Emily’s kidnapping and just for good measure you’re also held responsible for the whole ordeal.
As you are now imprisoned, framed for murder and kidnapping you quickly understand how they chose the title “Dishonored”. Still, Corvo has earned his reputation and he has supporters that know he could never do what he’s been accused of. With the help of a few friends, supernatural abilities and an assassins’ toolkit, it’s up to you to clear your name and rescue young Emily.
A Sokolov Painting in Motion
The designers have done an excellent job creating a world of contrast. From slum to suburb, manhole to mansion, the sights around Dunwall are crisp and consistent. Take the time out to observe the draw distances when you reach high points later in the game as well as the detail in Sokolov’s paintings.
Character models aren’t giving The Last of Us a run for its money but nor was that the intention. Dishonored is very much steam punk inspired and successful in its approach. Details like fingernails and looking up at the water displacement after submersion can be overlooked but I was definitely able to appreciate the care that went into these details.
There’s Always another Way
Where Dishonored truly shines is level design. As you play you’ll find yourself constantly thinking: “That makes perfect sense!” If you forget to save and find yourself having to backtrack, go an entirely different way! More often than not you’ll find a way to bypass obstacles but more importantly you get to appreciate the thought that went into designing the levels in Dishonored.
What makes the design approach so varied are the verticality (Apparently this is a word.) options. Feel like avoiding a sword fight? No problem, just find a way under or over your adversary. If I could compare it to anything else I would have to say it’s like Arkham City. (Not a bad game with which to share comparisons.)
The Boldest Measures are the Safest
You’re greeted with the header above on the title screen of Dishonored. You’ll find that it does indeed apply but with so many ways to play Dishonored, it’s a joy to mix things up. This is accomplished with abilities and perks that are unlocked and upgraded by collecting Runes and Bone Charms. On a typical playthrough you’ll likely miss several Runes; it’ll serve you well to upgrade based on stealth or combat.
What I recommend most is the Agility upgrade which allows you jump higher and the Blink upgrade which allows you to teleport short distances in any direction. Other notable abilities allow Corvo to posses animals (then people), unleash rat swarms, see enemies through walls and also stop time.
It’s fair to note that these abilities are entirely optional and I’m sure there’s a trophy related to bypassing them altogether. At your disposal you’ll find that you still have a sword, gun, cross-bow, grenades and other gadgets with variations and upgrades. Weapons are upgraded via the currency you find and the items you collect then talking to Piero in his Workshop. Be sure that you visit him to replenish supplies before selecting the option to sleep.
New Assassin on the Block
This month we’ll see the release of two Assassins Creed titles and next month we’ll see the return of Agent 47 in Hitman. Dishonored separates itself with the fact that it’s a first-person perspective, it has unique feature sets and the environments have even more character than the protagonist. With this in mind it is very safe to say that Dishonored is a welcomed addition to the assassin sub-genre.
With the addition of leaderboards, new abilities and story driven DLC on the horizon, Dishonored is poised to be a game of the year contender. Much can be said about a title that warrants a second and even third playthrough in this age of backlogs and back-to-back AAA releases. Do yourself a favor and get this game.
+ Superb level design
+ A new perspective/twist on the Assassin sub-genre
+ Incentive for multiple playthroughs
- The story can be a little confusing at times
- The game eventually ends
Final Score: 9/10
If you want to read about how Dishonored came to be, as well as a bit about Arkane Studios’ past, here’s a very interesting in-depth article for you.