Frank Judges: Dishonored!



After getting my hands on the absolutely wonderful Dishonored yesterday shortly after it’s launch, I played it for about 11-12 hours (The ENTIRE GAME, may I add) I decided to post a nice review of it right here.

Dishonored is basically what would happen if Agent 47 ate Thief: The Dark Project and then walked right into Half Life 2. You play the Empress’s ex-bodyguard Corvo, who is framed for her murder, traversing the streets of the whaling city of Dunwall and assassinating certain important people in order to restore your name, rescue the Empress’ daughter Emily and put her on the throne! Also you get betrayed again near the end of the game but how could you honestly not see that one coming?! First things first: The story!

Dishonored is a dark game. This was established from the very moment a rat plague was mentioned at the start of the game. Within a few minutes assassins stab the Empress, kidnap Emily, and then the Royal Spymaster arrives and arrests you for the murder of the Empress. You escape from prison with some help from the Loyalist Conspiracy, who seek to put Emily on the throne with your help. Bethesda have obviously put lots of effort into the story, which is a good thing because the game prides itself on  it’s immersion. Which is good, because immersion is one of the things that Dishonored does best. You can honestly tell that there’s a rat plague. Plague victims roam the streets, and there are rats EVERYWHERE. There are tiny little details that help build up the story of Dishonored. Occasionally whaling ships past, with the huge beasts lying on the deck. A diary of a woman who’s household has caught the plague lies between a few body bags. Books lying open on bedside tables detail the history of the Empire. However they did rush in a MYSTERIOUS FORCE known as the Outsider to give an excuse for Corvo being able to use magic. Now, enough of giving examples of little details in the environment for dramatic affect, on to the gameplay!

Dishonored tries to cater for EVERYONE in it’s gameplay. You can just charge through the enemy ranks with a sword and pistol, which feels VERY good but you aren’t supposed to. If you do, you’re given a high Chaos rating, which means the city gets darker and grimmer, even more rats swarm the city streets, and more plague victims (Weepers) stroll around. However, for those that like their miserable Orwellian cities to plague-free (Mostly) you can rewire turrets to fire upon enemies, sneak around rooftops occasionally dropping down to choke or stab a guard. Or you can just possess a rat, sneak through some air vents, jump out the rat, possess a fish, swim through a water pipe, then leap out of a fountain and slit your target’s throat, if you’re into that kind of thing. The climbing is solid and so is the magic, and if you be a bit creative you can uncover more of Dishonored’s rich story or just pull off an assassination in a sophisticated and complex manner. If you can call murder sophisticated. I have to say though, the power I used the most was blink, a sort of teleport, because to be honest I preferred skulking around in the rafters before leaping down behind a guard, knocking him unconscious, then blinking back up onto the roof, which is disappointing because some of them are downright awesome, for example a power that summons a swarm of rats that attack people and eat corpses. I used that ONCE to distract some guards outside the Loyalist’s base of operation, the Hound Pits Pub. However while blinking down I got shot down by a Tall-Boy (Blokes on stilts that fires you incendiary arrows at you) before re-loading after being absolutely massacred by the horde of guards and doing the normal way (Blinking onto a roof and running from there to my destination). The environments really help suit Dishonored’s mechanics. Now speaking of environments…

Game levels are very interested and complex, with SO many ways of getting into places. There’s the aforementioned possessing a rat and crawling through a vent, or sneaking in through a window or balcony, or just waltzing in the front door like you own the place. There’s always a slight flaw in security that allows you to slip past the guards. There’s also a wide range of places to explore, ranging from “bathhouses” to drawbridges and fortresses. They also really look like the streets of Half Life 2. Right, I’ve finished talking about how the way the bricks in the apartments are nicely aligned, which means it’s graphics time!

The graphics are VERY stylized, and it thankfully maintains the beautiful almost comic-book art style. The water is amazingly pretty, and water is how I judge how good games look. I only occasionally have to watch textures load, which I don’t mind, because I used to play games on a Sony Vaio laptop… So yeah, graphics are good. (This review is slowly deteriorating in terms of content, isn’t it?)

Oh yeah, and the port’s good.

So overall, Dishonored is a pretty, well designed game with some solid combat and magic, although it is short though there are plenty of opportunities to go and replay it. In fact, I have replayed the Golden Cat “bathhouse” level, and I also realized that one of my targets was in a new location, which was interesting. So you should definitely pick this up, it’s new and interesting and in my opinion this year’s best new title!