By Willem Weinstein
Dishonored, created in 2012 by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks, is an extremely well-developed game set in a rich, dynamic environment.
The game takes place in the fictional industrial city of Dunwall, clearly based on 18th century industrial London. Dunwall’s inhabitants suffer from an incurable plague that has wiped out much of the population, decimating citizens of all socioeconomic classes.
The city, utterly filled with corruption and death, feels real and alive, and the experience of simply moving through town is more immersive than any other game I’ve played in recent months.
In Dishonored, players assume the role of Corvo Attano, bodyguard to the Empress of Dunwall.
At the opening of the game, however, she is mysteriously killed, and the blame is placed upon the innocent Corvo.
The rest of the game is filled with missions in which the primary objective is to exact revenge upon the people who framed Corvo by targeting a key member of the new oppressive government and ultimately defeating him.
In the game, Corvo is given useful powers by a god-like entity, “the Outsider,” which allows him to teleport, see through walls and stop time, among other things.
These powers, aside from teleportation, are unlocked in a mission area by collecting runes that allow players to unlock additional powers to aid Corvo in his quest.
With each power unlocked, new paths open up that allow players to complete their goals. There is also a hidden mechanic in the game in which non-lethal approaches to overcoming obstacles are rewarded with fewer enemies in the future, while a lethal approach would do the opposite.
The powers themselves work fairly well overall, and although the time stopping ability might as well have been a cheat card, not once did I feel too overpowered when I unlocked more of them.
The powers made the gameplay creative and open to different play styles, so much so that I found myself frequently wanting to reload a saved game just to see what would have happened if I had tried a different path.
However, the characters in this enthralling city seemed disproportionately flat and uninteresting.
I didn’t gain any additional pleasure from killing my primary target than I did from killing any of the other inconsequential human obstacles in my way. Their bland, boring dialogue fell flat on my uninterested ears.
Normally, teleport mechanics work really well, but in some cases surfaces that I should have been able to get to were inexplicably out of my reach.
I assume this was because I was coming too close to the tallest roofs and could have walked over most problems then, but it seemed like the developers could have made these limitations clearer to avoid any confusion.
Overall, Dishonored is a great game. It is truly engaging and fun to play due to its visceral game play and intriguing environment.
It’s certainly one of my favorites of the year, and I highly recommend it.