“Dishonored” is a game defined by choices. How the player deals with enemy threats, chooses and utilizes his or her abilities and traverses the dystopian Victorian environment all create the player’s experience. With an immersive game play, “Dishonored” is an experience tailored to each player.
The game follows the journey of Corvo Attano as he seeks vengeance in a corrupt city in the Victorian era. After being accused of murdering an empress, Attano joins a group of freedom fighters that attempts to usurp a dictator and restore power to the rightful heir. The city guard attempts to quell the player’s progress while the city’s population is ravaged by plague.
“Dishonored” bears similarity to games such as the “Deus Ex” and “Bioshock” series with their use of creative conflict resolution and consequences for player choices. However, “Dishonored” stands apart from these other games because of the clear effects of each action. While killing a guard allows one to traverse an area more easily, if the body is found or if the action is seen, the other enemies in the level are more alert to the player’s presence.
The game is challenging, but it is always fair. Using the sheer number of tools and abilities provided, there is no scenario that cannot be resolved. When sneaking, “Dishonored” provides both audio and visual cues, such as enemy awareness meters and dialogue, to alert the player before being found. Actual combat is very much timing-based; one button slashes the sword and another blocks, but the flavor of the combat is spiced up by the myriad abilities and weapons at the user’s disposal. The controls of the game are immersive, with small details like being able to lean the player left or right coming in handy for first-person stealth. Sound elements in the game all feel accurate, from the satisfying jingle when collecting coins to the sound of the bolt flying from the player’s crossbow.
One cumbersome component of “Dishonored” is some of the voice work. Some of it seems lackluster or poorly presented, especially with some of the talented voice cast such as Brad Dourif and Carrie Fisher.
The true greatness of “Dishonored” lies in the multitude of ways in which a level can be reached. Level design in “Dishonored” is among the most creative elements. Non-marked routes are usually the most rewarding; the clever or observant player can find interesting ways around an environment. Each method of taking on a level presents its own challenges and appeals. While taking the rooftops may help one avoid enemies on the streets, the player also misses all of the weapons, coins and collectables below. Because of player choice in the traversal of the environment, one may feel unsatisfied after beating a level and not seeing everything it had to offer. However, this is one of the great appeals of “Dishonored” as it greatly increases replay value.
Completing “Dishonored” in its entirety on standard difficulty takes around 11 hours. Game length should not dissuade a purchase, as the game highly encourages multiple runs because of the immense number of player choices the game provides. “Dishonored” is an amazing game and a stellar addition to modern adventure games that makes bold strides in encouraging replay.
“Dishonored” was created by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game plays on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.
Overall rating: 4 stars