Made by Arkane studio and published by Bethesda software, Dishonored is an action/adventure game that takes elements from both Deus Ex and Half-life. But does it make a compelling game?
First, let me say that I really like the setting of Dunwall. The pseudo-renaissance is quite interesting, especially with the oil-energy tanks acting like electricity. The entire game art is also quite similar to Half-life 2, but that is probably because they share the lead art designer. The game is full of lore tidbits as well, which are presented through books and a few characters’ stories. I quite liked Granny Rags and the beating heart item–both are so creepy. Unfortunately, aside from these, there wasn’t that much integration between the lore and the game. Everything felt superficially connected. The pest, the whalers and the outsiders are simply just there.
Playing as Corvo the crow
Playing Corvo, the silent protagonist, is interesting in itself. He has awesome abilities and I love looking down from above while standing from a roof. I must have been a cat in a previous life. Also, Arkane still has that magic. You know what I mean if you played Dark Messiah. Combat feels like combat. Although, like with Assassin’s Creed, you might not want to really fight lots of people at the same time.
Corvo can access lots of powers. “Blink” is going to be the default go-around power and I think that darkvision is required to avoid meeting guards face to face at every turn. These are also the two powers that will cause the mana bar to regen. Others will take half, if not one-third, of the mana bar. This means that unless you stock a lot of mana potions, you won’t use them much, not that they are really required. Why use one-third of your mana when throwing a rock is cheaper?
The city of Dunwall is sort of interesting. You get to visit a few places, but never “publicly.” You always go somewhere to do a mission and most NPCs on the map will be enemies. There are a few friendlies and sort of small side-quests, but they are few and far between. It is also hard to know if somebody is friendly or an enemy. I actually was shoved around by “friendlies” in a map. I was wondering what was hitting me.
The story is rather simple, maybe too simple. I saw all the twists and turns well in advance. Although, it had good use of known characters throughout the game. There are also like two endings only: killed a lot of mooks, didn’t kill a lot of mooks. Actions didn’t have long-term implications besides deciding if playing further was more annoying or not (high chaos means more rats and Weepers, which are just annoyances).
Note, I played on the PC.
It’s rather linear in term of execution. The way the mission maps were chopped down wasn’t that great. Some mission maps had to be cut into little pieces with loading screens between each other, but the way to get between these loading screens was a single entry point on each side. So sneaking around was always going from point A to point B in the end. Also, some maps didn’t really have alternate paths aside from killing or not killing the target. Everything on the side was more about finding money, bones, charms or runes and you didn’t really need those after two missions.
The game on normal is still challenging, but like Deus Ex Human Revolution and Alpha Protocols, the “guards” all felt unnatural. They patrol an area like robots. The first Deus Ex did it better. Here, guards patrol small areas and you just have to learn the pattern to move about them without being seen. The patterns gain in complexity through the different missions and it seems that the ways of getting through maps are usually quite similar. There were two maps that were really cool: The Golden Cat and the Boyle Estate. Each presented lots of ways of getting around in those buildings. Unfortunately, the Boyle Estate mission solution is rather simple, it was more fun exploring the place than taking care of the target.
I’m also not a fan of how the “crawling to the air-duct” was turned into possessing a rat to crawl in the air-duct. :( I wasn’t a fan of possession, but I had to use it to crawl in the air-ducts. *sigh* There were also the weapons that were rather simple. You could only expand the standard bolt or pistol, both lethal weapons. The sleep darts were the only non-lethal weapon in the game and you were stuck with 10 bolts per mission (they were rarely around, while bullets are plentiful).
I finished with the “Just Dark Enough” (low chaos). This is an adventure game first, unfortunately the adventure felt like something was missing. I didn’t exactly have that much fun playing each map that much. Some started great, but at some point you realize that everything is there simply for the gameplay and not because it should be there. It was just too superficial to me.