Dishonored is a first-person stealth action-adventure. The player controls Corvo, Lord Protector of the Duchess, who becomes an Assassin after being wrongly accessed of the Duchess’ murder. Corvo is tasked with finding and rescuing the Duchess’ daughter, Emily, who is the rightful heir to the throne. From the beginning of the game, I was sucked into its world and story. The locations, buildings and people are all realistic, there are satisfying death animations, and all the characters are fully voice-acted (other than Corvo himself). The story is pretty simple, and is essentially Corvo getting rid of the people in the way of Emily’s ascension, but there is enough intrigue as to what will happen next to keep the player’s attention.
At a first glance the gameplay is similar to the Bioshock franchise, where there is a choice between using melee weapons, guns or enhanced/abnormal abilities to take out your enemies. In many ways, however, I felt that the combat options and play in Dishonored was a lot more successful. The player can always sneak, put enemies to sleep (by grabbing them from behind), and make use of their sword. Other normal weapons include a gun, a crossbow, and bombs. The game also offers a skill tree with abilities that can help the player to either sneak around or cause extra chaos. For example, possessing rats allows the use of using vents to get around but upgrade this to possessing people, and you can have the guards seemingly kill each other. Other abilities include seeing people through walls, a long distance teleportation jump, sending a swarm of rats to devour enemies, and using wind to push enemies away from you.
Instead of leveling up the character, Corvo is already at the hight of his power as an Assassin, but to gain his extra abilities he must find runes and shrines of the Outsider, who is watching Corvo’s journey and choices. These runes are scattered around each level. The player is given a hand-made heart that is able to see the location of the runes, but that does not make them easy to find. Most runes are hidden in awkward to get to buildings and rooms, while some are rewarded by taking certain paths through missions. Also seen by the heart are bone charms that each have a specific helpful trait (such as moving faster while carrying bodies, or guards having a chance of missing when they shoot at you). The game starts with only being able to equip three bone charms at a time but more slots can be added through upgrades.
There is a large focus on playing however the player wants, with multiple options on how to complete each main mission – not only to sneak around or kill everyone, but pathways on how to get around. The player is often rewarded by exploring the map, not only with items but from finding NPCs that may aid in the mission, for help in return of course. This heightens the games replay value, as it is tempting to max out different skill levels and test different paths on the map to see what was missed in previous playthroughs. Replaying is encouraged through a multitude of achievements for the completionists out there.
Dishonored took me around 15 hours to finish. The difficulty level was fair, and rose with each mission – mainly through the amount of guards the player must slip by, or kill, while trying not to raise panic or an alarm. In the past, I have always struggled with games that required any sort of sneaking mechanic, but Dishonored made it enjoyable and it was a good introduction to these sorts of games. I would have appreciated a little more from the story towards the end, but the final cut-scene made up for this (with the ending changing, depending on how much chaos you’ve created). Overall the game was fun, it had my heart really pounding from the possibilities of being discovered in the later missions but never felt impossible or unfair. I’d recommend the game to anyone new to sneaking mechanics, but also to more hardcore gamers that want a challenge (the difficulty can be ramped up to hard or very hard).
Developed by Arkane Studios
Published by Bethesda Softworks
Available on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox360, XboxOne (Reviewed on the PC with a controller)