“Dishonored” has been on my radar for a while after seeing some trailers that demonstrated the freedom that the player has within each mission. The game was hyped for many reasons, and for the most part, “Dishonored” succeeds and produces some gameplay that truly makes player choice a key part of the game. It may not quite reach the lofty heights of recent greats such as “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”, but “Dishonored” is still an incredible experience.
To start, I will say that few games give the player a true sense of freedom within the game world. Some games that try offer a few set paths through a mission, which often still ends up feeling like the game is guiding you down a particular path. Others bring many choices within scripted events with each option having different consequences.
In my time in the world of Dishonored, I was greeted with near endless options on how to approach each mission obstacle. Do you play it stealthy by distracting guards with thrown bottles, or maybe put him to sleep with a sleep dart, or sneak about behind him and knock him out? Do you take a technical approach, placing traps, rigging enemy technology to work against them, or possessing animals and guards to work through each level? Or maybe you just want to go in and get your hands dirty, locking swords with guards, calling on rats to attack guards, or using firearms to your advantage? You know, maybe you just want to avoid the enemy all together and sneak from cover to cover, teleporting across the rooftops. I know this is a long description, but it just goes to show how open each mission is – especially when you add in multiple paths through each level.
This freedom is wrapped in a great gameplay package. The controls are fluid and responsive, and you are given many tools to help you succeed in your tasks. Little touches, such as the ability to lean out from walls and cover are much appreciated. Should these tools fail to keep you hidden, the melee combat is intense and has a nice depth to it with the variety of weapons you are given to supplement the already great sword combat (which has a great system requiring timing, parrying, and exploiting your opponents’ weak moments as opposed to just mashing the attack button until the enemy lies at your feet). And speaking of locking swords, the sound effects for each weapon and sword attacks are unique, making each blow felt.
To add to the quality of the game, the city of Dunwall is well-detailed, and feels like a living, breathing city. Your choices throughout each mission have consequences (a stealthy approach leads to better morale through the city, while a murderous approach will bring more rats and plague throughout each area). The way the world adapts to your actions, along with some great character voicing, draws you into the experience and makes your task all the more intense.
Graphics throughout the game have a nice style to them. The designs for each character, each piece of technology, and the city itself are brought to life through some great detailing and nice lighting effects. It certainly isn’t the best-looking game ever, but what it may lack in technical prowess, it makes up for in artistic style.
The one downside I can say for the experience is the plot. It is by no means bad, but it is nothing to write home about. With such a unique setting and detailed city, I felt disappointed by the story itself, which is a fairly straightforward tale of conspiracy and power-hungry royals.
“Dishonored” certainly puts many of the great pieces together to make a great game. The whole experience is great as you make your way through each mission, weighing your options on how best to approach each situation, and see your actions have effects on the city of Dunwall. With a better plot, “Dishonored” would be an easy Game of the Year consideration in my book, but as it sits, it will have to be happy with just being a “great” game.
Final Score: 8/10