Systems: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Darkness. My mission begins. I put on my mask. It does not only instill fear into my enemies, but it provides many enhancements that make my mission easier. I have to scale from rooftop to rooftop without detection. I have to be aware of the traps, patrolmen, and the extra security measures they put up. Apparently, my last mission caught attention. I made too many mistakes and left too many bodies. I have to be careful of this one, or patrols will get much, much worse. The Outsider has provided me with unique abilities. I can dash, see through walls, and the line of sight the guards have. I use the latest bone charms to help me give me an edge in combat, along with obtaining more of runes. I can enhance my “gifts” more if I do it right. I jump, I dash, I take down enemies at my whim (lethal or nonlethal, pending if they saw me or not). The streets may be filled but the rooftops are perfect. I can also use windows of certain apartments to dive, bob, and weave through the night air. The target is close. I can feel it. The anticipation, the excitement. The cold, night air only fuels my adrenaline even more. I have to be careful, though, this mission requires stealth.
I make it to the building my target is residing. Four floors, dumbwaiters with dumb waiters, patrolmen accompanying different ranks, and my target is in his resting quarters. The fourth floor. I can scale the side of the building, climb the balconies on the respected floors. I dived in, scanning the area I just intruded. I take down the guards with sleeping darts. Thanks to the upgrade in the last mission, they go down within moments. No alarm. No one suspicious otherwise. I peer through the keyhole and see my target. An old aristocrat who thinks he is untouchable. No matter, he will understand that he is at the peak of the mountain, and he will understand there is nowhere to go now . . . but down. He threatens the maid to stay with him, despite her constant pleads of decline. A subtle threat is mentioned, and she accepts to stay, regretfully. This makes my blood boil; however, instead of using my aggression to storm into the room, I turn it internally, turning it into adrenaline. I see the target about to leave the room and head my direction. I vanish. He didn’t see me. I stay crouched above him. The chandelier supports my weight as I observe him go into his art-room. Regretfully, I stashed the two unconscious men there. Oops. No matter, the man is distracted by getting his guards back up. I swoop down and swap out the papers. I met with my contacts before entering the building, mind, and they offered me several ways I can take down this target. All of them were appealing, but I prefer to give my targets karma rather than a dagger in the back. I steal everything from his back pocket and teleport to the basement.
From there, I sabotaged the air ducts, forcing the target and the rest of his entourage to leave the building. The general disapproves of meeting outside, but the aristocrat tries his best to sway the general into a more relaxed state of mind. The aristocrat shows the papers, gasps at the misfortune given to him, and is arrested on the spot, while I leave with the will in hand. I give it to the proper heir, and my mission is complete, and the information brings me closer to my true target.
Believe it or not folks, this is an actual mission that happens in Bethesda’s 2012 hit Dishonored, and this is the first game that Arkane Studios created once it became partnered with Bethesda. Many tests and demos were created during its development, and test players found different methods in completing their missions. Rather than scrapping this idea, the production heavily encouraged it. This is probably the best part of the game: I can play it as I see fit. Whatever mood I am feeling that day, I can either be very quiet, take my time, or jump from one area to the next, becoming more creative with each kill, or just butcher the whole area. This game, while not the first to help with players make choices in how to carry out their missions, the combat system, items, and mechanics do.
Dishonored takes place in the fictional city of Dunwall – which, if you look at it – kind of reminds me of a lot of 19th century Victorian London with a steampunk feel to it. It certainly has a grimy and industrial feel to the atmosphere. For me, this is a plus, as I am a fan of the steampunk art style. The story centers on Corvo Attano, the Empress’ bodyguard. Corvo returns after visiting neighboring lands for a possible cure of the plague that is slowly destroying Dunwall. After a brief and happy reunion, the Empress is murdered, and her daughter, Emily, is kidnapped. Corvo is left with the blame, as he will eventually find out, this was a planned coup d’etat, and he was the perfect scapegoat. Now, dishonored (eh? Eh? Get it?), Corvo must now avenge the Empress and rescue Emily.
Dishonored is played from a first-person point of view. Which is handy considering how far your targets can be sometimes, and you get to snap into a “scope mode” instantly. Very helpful to make those clean headshots. The control scheme of this game is also very responsive, and very helpful. The control scheme follows most of today’s first-person shooters, but your right/left bumper/triggers are actually associated with the character you are playing. I adjusted to the game very quickly, especially this is my fourth time playing this game, and at the same time, completing it to 100% with trophies. It did not take me long to get back into the game, and so glad I did. I forgot how much fun this game was.
The game leaves it open for the player to partake in the missions as they see fit. The player will receive many runes, bonecharms, and supernatural gifts throughout their journey. Some of these supernatural abilities include seeing through walls (ala Arkham Asylum), pull or push their enemies with magic, teleport across the map, and so much more. Also, they can use sleep darts, regular darts, explosive darts, grenades, wire traps for their, as you can probably guess, this is not the typical 19th-century Victorian era. This is a universe where dark magic exists, and you will often be visited by the Outsider (who we know is neither good nor evil), as he helps Corvo in his quest for revenge. Now, as if the game was not interesting enough, the game does give you the choice to either kill your targets in the most creative way possible (blood, gore, appendages going everywhere, etc.), or Corvo can pacify his targets in very creative ways. Either way, both choices are very fulfilling. However, should you want to take out the targets passively, this usually will require doing favors for certain factions in Dunwall. There are only two in the main game, but there are two more in the DLC stories The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches. The DLC stories are just as entertaining as the main story counterpart (And it happens in reflection to the main story, up to a certain point). Each of the characters brings their own twisted personality in the game and truly brings you into this world that Arkane has created.
Now, the story I mentioned at the beginning of this review sounded intense, and it made it sound like I did everything flawlessly. Truth be told, this took some time to perfect. I had to understand the environment, guard patrols, traps, and security. Plus, it does not help that the servants in the building also ratted me out anytime I was seen. This was when I either realized my skills were not on point, or the alert system the A.I. has in this game is a little too sensitive. There was a time I opened a door, and I heard the string quartet give their usual string plucking alarm that I was seen. Fortunately, the game is very forgiving as it does give the player a “save anywhere, anytime” mechanic. I was very fortunate that I could save moments before I made that mistake, but it also told me to be extra careful. The problem with the alert system was more on me, as I was used to other stealth-like games who were more “charitable” with time. Dishonored, more or less, plays on the situation that it is an actual person looking at you. These mistakes frustrated me at first because I did not originally know what the game was asking me to do; however, with some practice, I finally figured it out. Even the mistakes led me in other directions and secrets throughout the map. I made a memo for future attempts to tag those before I either completed the mission or planned my assassination attempt.
Speaking of choices, the wonderful thing about choices is that they have consequences: Good or bad. Dishonored makes this as part of their grading scale. The player does not receive a letter grade, number percentage, but it goes by either “High Chaos” or “Low Chaos”. How much blood the player spills, how much of a nuisance they were, the more difficult the missions become later. Be silent, be aware of what you are doing, and make the targets disappear, then everything stays calm, or possibly less, the next mission. Also, the story is affected by this rating scale, too. Less blood, your allies will help more (may even help with the assassinations themselves). Become too much of a burden, then your allies will attack you. Either way, there are many unexpected moments in Dunwall. Be prepared for anything.
While I enjoyed playing the main game and the two DLC story playthroughs, there is one more DLC I have not brushed yet, and it is The Dunwall City Trials. A lot of DLC, for me, is hit or miss. Players get some great content from DLC, and there is one or two DLC that is positively aggravating. City Trials is the latter, ESPECIALLY if you are going for the 100% rate for trophies. The trials consist of sixteen challenges: ten regular challenges, and six expert versions of certain trials. Some were enjoyable, I admit, like the time-freezing ones, and the battle royale one. Even the burglar one was fun! The rest, honestly, can be either skipped or just tried once just to say one has tried them. To go for the 100% for trophies takes at least ten hours, and a lot of luck in the Bonfires trial (one of the worst challenges I have ever played in a video game. Period.)
All in all, I had quite an enjoyable time with Dishonored. Yes, I am aware it borrows a lot of elements that made certain video game franchises popular at the time, but Dishonored delivers the mechanics in such a unique way, that I never really compared it to other titles. Dishonored is truly a unique experience, and for those assassins who want to take a break from Hitman and Assassin’s Creed, I definitely recommend this one. Just be careful if you decide to digitally download this to your collection, as if you complete a mission, but you forgot something, and want to go back to the last autosave. The autosaves, after a certain point in the game, become corrupt. Make sure to make a hard save as much as possible.
- Creative game play
- Make your own choices on how you complete the mission
- Supernatural players tailored perfectly for stealth/aggressive combat
- Unique way of discovering secrets and power-ups
- Important dialogue can get lost some times (Certain runes trigger cut scenes
- The colors chosen to show a plagued-infested city can get bland at times
- You get more rewards from the stealth aspects, while not so much for the aggressive combat