This has actually been a good time to start up a blog about games. I find that every couple of years or so every game that I have ever wanted all of a sudden hits the market, leaving me to scramble around and play everything. This season, it’s Borderlands 2, Assassin’s Creed 3, Hitman: Absolution, BLOPS 2, the last chapter of the walking dead, and with upcoming Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite, Dead Space 3, Dead Island 2: The Deadening, and Gears of War Judgement on the way, my hands are FULL and then some. One of the hottest games this season was Dishonored, and while I try to get into the swing of regular updates, I’ll take a short step back to review it.
The premise of Dishonored is, in two sentences or less, a story of Corvo Attano, a bodyguard of an empress, whose life is destroyed when assassins kill the empress and the blame is placed on him. He seeks revenge for the death of his beloved empress and to place her daughter, Emily, on the throne as the rightful ruler of the Dunwall Empire, accepting help from the mysterious Outsider.
There were a lot of really good elements of Dishonored. I really liked the setting, an empire with a rich history brought to its knees by a mysterious plague, crawling with infected people crying blood from their eyes, street gangs and corrupted coppers, and the occasional assassin (such as yourself). I really enjoyed Corvo’s relationship with Emily, the daughter-heir, and the Outsider, the mysterious godlike force responsible for Corvo’s powers. I was really attached to the idea behind the gameplay- BioShock like controls meeting an Assassin’s Creed style of gameplay. However… the game just feels a bit off to me.
I had some issues with the gameplay. There were small things (such as the “slide” move’s penchant to assume that whatever it is you’re standing on has the same gripping consistency as your average slip-n-slide) and there were also some pretty glaring gameplay issues. I really took issue with how the game tries to focus on giving the players choices, but a lot of the choices that a player can make are really forced. For example: my playthrough of the game involved me killing as few people as possible. For the most part, I dodged guards and civilians alike, popping out to take care of a guard in just the wrong place at just the wrong time, usually in a nonlethal approach (if possible). I think I killed about 10 people during the course of the entire game (most of whom were weepers). Unfortunately for me, the gameplay is severely geared towards killing people. Out of my entire arsenal, I only had 2 weapons (choke hold and sleep dart) and three spells (Teleport, that magical eye thing, and possession) that didn’t involve me, well, killing everything. Given the (somewhat) broad range of items and abilities that are available in the game, and it doesn’t make sense that these are my only nonlethal weapons. Where are my smoke pellets? How about a blunt instrument (like a club) which I can use during a fight to incapacitate but not kill? How about a spell that lets me put my enemies to sleep? None of these things exist, which leaves me… frustrated. It’s not fun to see most of my gameplay options removed from me, but… I suppose that is the price I pay for playing the game the way I want to.
The single largest issue that I take with Dishonored is that while I felt that the developers were trying to put an Assassin’s Creed game into a BioShock environment, they missed the mark and generated a BioShock clone. The game plays and feels almost exactly like BioShock, with a little more creativity put into the weapons and the powers. But it’s hard not to think of Rapture when the only difference between EVE and Pietro’s Spiritual Remedy is not wondering whether or not somebody else used the needle before you.
In the effort to maintain some sort of brevity, I’ll conclude with this thought. Dishonored gets a 7.5 out of 10 in my book, for a lack of innovation on the side of the mechanics, a lackluster storyline, and that one time it made me play the same level twice in a row. It’s strengths are an immerse environment, some interesting powers, and a handful of interesting choices, especially around Granny Rags and Slackjaw. As they say, a BioShock game by any other name plays just as sweet.