Dishonored Review – An exercise in freedom and frustration
Friend of the show Jason already wrote a review of Arkane Studio’s Dishonored, but his playthrough consisted of him brutally murdering everything in sight. So, I thought it would be most beneficial to our audience to write a review from the other side of things. The skillful side. The stealth side. The expert side. Because I’ve already played as long as Jason has in total playtime, and I’m barely past the first level. Expert.
The versatile Corvo
Dishonored’s gameplay provides the players the tools and powers to choose their style of play. You can make your protagonist Corvo a killing machine, teleporting around enemies and stopping time to impale them in the throat. It’s seriously not even fair. I would call serious BS if I’m some poor sap guard minding my own business and trying to make a living for my family and young boy who has the whooping cough, and then some jaded, revenge bent assassin freezes time and stabs me in the neck. What even is that? But I digress.
Or, you could play the stealth route…in which you can still murder everyone by stabbing them the throat. What’s great about Dishonored is it provides you the tools and builds a world that can accommodate whichever play style you prefer. If you’re a blood-lusting heathen, you’ll find weapons and augments that will make you a force to be reckoned with. If you prefer stealth, you’ll have various pathways and options to reach your goal. When the game developers are as creative as you are, it’s always a good sign.
Since stealthing through without killing anyone is what the Empress would have wanted (rest her soul), I opted for this experience. If you do the same, then your playthrough will be mostly death free. And miserable.
Saving Your Progress: THE VIDEO GAME
The first thing you need to know about playing Dishonored is I hope you like saving. From what I’ve heard, although Corvo can stop time, the combat is still hard, making him the worst superhero ever. These guys killing the temporal-altering Corvo is like a thug with a cheap handgun offing superman. However, if you decide to go the stealth route and refuse to kill, and you’re anything like me, you will be saving about every 15 seconds for the entirely of your playthrough. Get seen because your shoelace is hanging out from behind dark cover? Restart. Accidentally remove a man’s jugular when you meant to shoot him with a sleeping dart? Restart. Try to read the mind of a lovely housemaid but fire a crossbow into her forehead? You get the idea.
You’ll definitely want to install the game to cut down on load times, because while the game is actually pretty fast all things considered, that same loading screen got tiresome very quickly.
Who let these rats in here?
As a fun bonus, Dishonored features man eating rats. These rats are unlike anything that I’ve ever seen, and will disintegrate a man in seconds, bones and all. It’s like if Piranhas grew legs. Chaos.
The problem I discovered, when it was far too late to change it, is that these rats will randomly show up and eat the bodies of men I’ve knocked out if they were not put in a place out of reach of the ground. Which, you know, is counter intuitive to a STEALTH GAME. Yeah, let me know out this guard and place him on the top of this f****** table. Sure, his men will find him, but at least the rats won’t feast on him. Stupid. And of course, since the rats eat the guy alive, it might as well be me putting an arrow in his temple. Kill-free playthrough, over. Don’t let this happen to you, America. I use my considerable skill to make the sacrifice so you don’t have to.
Presentation through the roof, morale through the floor
Now, I’ve done some complaining, but the truth is there is a lot to love in Dishonored. The world is very fleshed out, and there is always some journal entry or poem to read that further details the kingdom and its plight. From what I’ve seen so far, the story and writing are also very well done.
My favorite part is the heart that tells you secrets. When equipped, she will telepathically give you the background of a city, or describe to you the depressing history of a character. What’s great is that they are all depressing. Every sad sack in this world is either evil or wants to kill themselves. “She wakes up every morning wanting to take her life,” the heart tells me. “Sometimes she considers laying in the middle of the road and waiting for death,” the heart whispers in my ear. And sometimes, she just talks about how cold it is, which leads me to believe that this “thing” used to actually exist as a person. I’m sure I’ll get the reveal later down the road, and I’m sure it will be tragic as hell. Everyone in the town is so god damn depressed I might as well just give up. Oh, and the economy is based around ruthlessly murdering and torturing whales for their oil. So that’s happy.
The world and gameplay Arkane has built is truly impressive. Sure, there are aspects that could have been implemented in a less frustrating way, but it’s hard to begrudge the game too much when it delivers such an excellent experience. We need more games like Dishonored; brave, unique, original IP’s that can establish new franchises and expand the library past Halo 5 and Call of Duty 8: Now We’re in Space.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you about those damn rats.
I give Dishonored four rat-infested corpses out of five.