Published on October 8th, 2012 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Developer: Arkane Studios
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Windows PC
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2012
Review Notes: A copy of the game was received for review purposes
I know gamers are faced with a lot of fear when approaching a brand new IP, especially one that looks really good; they don’t know whether the game will be a hit or a bust. This is much like what publishers face on a daily basis. One such title, Homefront, comes to mind. There was too much hype and the game simply underdelivered.
So, what is it that gamers want from a brand new IP? Personally, that list should include: interesting characters, fluid controls and a solid storyline that leaves me wanting a sequel much sooner than what probably should happen.
And I am happy to say that Dishonored is not one of those types of games. It’s doubtful that you will pick up and feel ripped off that you spent $60 on Bethesda’s latest title. If there were five notations that a game would have to score perfectly in order to be labeled a masterpiece, Dishonored would hit four out of five.
In Dishonored, you play a master assassin by the name of Corvo Attano, bodyguard of the empress of the city of Dunwall. But not all is well. The city has been overrun by a plague of rats, which are damaging the city and killing its citizens.
Without spoiling the setup, Corvo is framed for a murder that he did not commit and now must embark on a journey to revenge his name. In the process he must also save the empress’ daughter, Emily, who just happens to be next in line to take the throne.
Corvo is locked away for his crime, but is spared imprisonment with the help of a group of loyalists who aim to help restore some order to the broken city and bring Emily to power.
The story’s progress revolves around the decisions you make and how you elect to complete each mission. It is possible to complete the game without killing any enemies (except there are a couple of main targets you cannot avoid), and some substantial scoring points are at hand for those who complete this achievement–this is where the chaos system comes into play.
Each mission is laid out with a value system that judges how stealthy you can go through objectives and not kill anyone. Your chaos rating does affect each mission you go on by adding more enemies, more plague rats and different environment layouts.
Each mission you begin has a handful of optional side missions that can make the main objective easier to achieve. You can complete the main mission without completing any of the optional ones, but you do lose out on some additional story moments. Keep in mind that some of the optional side missions do have repercussions to whatever you choose the outcome to be and in turn can make your missions much harder and alter the ending.
Apart from completing missions and optional questing, the hunt for runes and skeleton charms play a part in the collection process. The runes allow you to upgrade your character’s supernatural powers and the skeleton charms give boost your stats. Corvo learns different spells and abilities that will help him in completing objectives, and are used in a very BioShock kind of way.
For example, you learn Blink, which you can use to zip from one part of the map to the other or from the ground to rooftops in under a second. Possession allows you to take control of enemies and even animals within the game. Rat Hole is another special ability that will allow you to summon a swarm of plague rats to attack enemies and devour evidence, such as dead bodies, so they are not found and you are not caught.
Dark View gives you the ability to see more than just into the dark. While active the ability will show you enemy locations and even which direction they are looking in. This helps in planning your attack. Other abilities include increasing your jump distance, a quicker reload time, and cutting down on the time it takes to knock an enemy unconscious.
Skeleton Charms help give you additional stats that stand separate from your abilities. They can increase your maximum health, ammo slots and decrease the amount of rats you come into contact with. In the very beginning, once you escape prison, you gain access to a special heart that is given to you by a spirit that helps you locate his secret runes and charms hidden throughout each mission. The closer you get to the items the faster and stronger the heart beats, which you feel through the rumble of your system’s controller. This helps narrow down your search for the special runes and skeleton charms that are needed to upgrade your character.
Graphically, the game is beautiful to look at. It has that steam punk,cell-shaded art style to it—but doesn’t necessarily add to the realism of the game. It has a Borderlands kind of graphical fidelity, it’s just not as colorful as Gearbox’s shooter and exists in a much darker setting. If you look at the environments it is almost as if you feel the corruption and the breakdown of government through the style and colors used to illustrate the environments.
There are some small frame rate issues and bugs that leave NPCs in very awkward positions. One such case occurred while attempting to kill a main target that was clipping halfway through the floor in the center of his room and couldn’t turn to see if I was coming. Sometimes hiding bodies in a corner will cause half of their body to clip through the wall as well.
However, these are minor technical glitches and do not diminish the intensity or disrupt the flow of the story.
I do disagree with the developers length of game time, though, as it only took around eight hours to complete–and that’s with 75 percent of the side missions completed. If I went through the game using nothing but stealth and killed no one I could see it taking more than 20 hours, since I ended the game with a high chaos rating it took me less than half that time.
Dishonored is a very solid game with a strong storyline. If you were looking for a game to fill the void of some of the AAA releases this fall, Dishonored is a no brainer. The game feels like a solid mix of Assassin’s Creed and BioShock. And even though it doesn’t really leave a huge opening for a sequel, it is possible. I, for one, will look forward to more from this franchise.
+ Solid Story
+ Gameplay Mechanics
+ Side quests
– Technical Hiccups