I sadly do not have the time or means to review games, so I instead try to offer my own personal insights about games as I have the ability to play them. Dishonored is just such a game, it was released on October 9th and at the time my gaming budget had already been spent on the Warz and Halo 4
I have followed the games progress since early screenshots were made available and I was intrigued by it. The basic idea is a game where the player is sent on assassination missions in a semi-open world environment. The player is given the choice how they want to handle the mission. They can take a stealthy approach, or go in guns ablazing. They can also choose to subdue enemies non lethally or just end them in quick gory fashion.
The thing is, that description poorly captures how much fun making those choices are. Before the player lays a buffet of new sights and sounds, the art design of the game fits perfectly well in this plague infested, steam punk-esque, old victorian environment. You get the sense walking the streets or the rooftops ,depending on your inclination, that this place is a parallel world. Much of it seems to relies on the laws of nature and physics that we know to be true but everything is just a bit off. The City itself is a harbor town that’s primary means of affluence is the manufacture and consumption of whale oil, but these aren’t the cuddly whales we know. The same can be said of other familiar creatures such as wolfhounds, the rats, and even the humans themselves.
The greatest character of the whole game is the city itself, scattered throughout the environment are cryptic snippets from books and notes that tell a narrative but in such a way that you get the impression you are only catching half of the conversation. This city is filthy with trash and other debris littering the levels, you can also clearly tell the more affluent sections from those left to their own devices as those of a more posh nature are nearly immaculate with clean streets, trimmed hedges and richer colors in contrast to the poor areas which have graffiti everywhere, everything is soiled, plague rats abound, and you just get a sense that if you were to physically touch any surface in this world you would need to sanitize immediately. What’s even more striking is that even though you can clearly tell the more affluent areas apart they have not gone into this disaster unscathed. Signs of decay are still there if you look close enough but almost as a metaphor for the whole game when you look under the surface in basements or back rooms the decay is prevalent.
The mission design is also exquisite, the side quests seem almost organic and the characters are rich and well rounded. Even though the game is linear in structure, the developers have given plenty of room to approach your problems however you choose. This will probably lead to further play throughs to experiment and try different tactics just to see how things change. Further enriching this sense of choice is the fact that if a player chooses to go a darker route, murdering all they see whether they deserve it or not the outcome is promised to be just as dark. Whereas if the player goes the non lethal route, or avoids conflict all together the end is promised to be equally positive. What I personally enjoyed about this choice is that it’s not cut and dry like most games which tout choice as a game feature. Either method you choose is equally satisfying and I found myself spending considerable time debating the merits of leaving someone alive versus simply executing them.
I’ve mentioned that the characters are amazing and interesting, but they’re made even more so by the voice actors and dialogue. Some of the notable actors are Susan Sarandon (yes you read that correctly, I said Susan Sarandon) and Lena Headey. Those amazingly talented voices combined with well written dialogue further drive home that this is a world you want to spend some time in.
I’ve not yet finished the game, in fact I’ve only just begun but so far I have already gotten many hours of enjoyment out of the game and I look forward to returning to Dunwall for more adventures and shenigans.