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You play the role of Corvo, bodyguard of Dunwall’s Empress, whom upon returning from investigating the mysterious rat plague, is promptly framed for the murder of his charge and kidnapping of her daughter, Emily. Your conspirators, like most villains, reveal themselves to you since you are to be executed the next day and as fate would have it, you find a way to escape the prison. After breaking out of jail and joining up with the Loyalists, Corvo is visited by a mysterious entity known as The Outsider (who reminds me very much of a Daedric Prince) who gives Corvo the ability to use supernatural powers. With the help of an inventor and his new found abilities, Corvo exacts his vengeance upon those that killed his Empress and kidnapped Emily.
While not the most original story ever, it is very well written and there are enough twists and turns to keep you engaged throughout. Potentially the most upsetting thing about the story is that most major plot developments are predictable and easily guessed well before and twists happen. In fact, I figured out one of the biggest twists in the game that is revealed at the end within the first 5 minutes of gameplay. Literally, the very beginning of the game. The game also features 2 different endings, based of our your chaos rating. I felt that both endings lacked the heart that is in the rest of the game, although one ending was still worth the effort.
Combat is an option for the most part in Dishonored, I played my first playthrough without killing more than a few people. As a fair warning, typical to the Bethesda name, there is a bug that sometimes kills people you knock unconscious if you stack them on top of each other. It is up to you to decide if you want to create a path of destruction with corpses in your wake or strike from the shadows, potentially incapacitating your foes instead. The options of combat are deep, and there is plenty of customization available to you, allowing you to specialize in whatever playstyle you choose. When I played much more violently I took the abilities that literally turned me into death incarnate, brutally destroying my enemies and leaving no trail of my carnage. I really enjoyed this duality since your actions will change the way events that you encounter in the game and to some extent, the enemies and obstacles as well.
The combat itself is entertaining as well. Corvo is allowed to use his blade and a secondary weapon or ability at the same time. This allowed me to really experiment with his inventory to find the best combinations, although the blink/sword combo is still my favorite by far. Parrying attacks and using your blade to counter attack is fun but the carnage from grenades and razor wire traps is equally entertaining. Interestingly enough, unlike other games, alerting a courtyard of guards doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in for deadly combat. Corvo’s mystic abilities allow you to turn tail and elude enemies amazingly fast as well, I always used combat as a last ditch option.
I enjoyed the concept of Dishonored quite a bit. I didn’t tire of the game mechanics and there was enough to complicate things when I returned to certain areas I had already visited. There are collectibles almost everywhere and usually getting all of them seems to take a fair amount of brain exercise as well. Dishonored seems to give you so many options and alternatives that ultimately, some people may actually find this overwhelming. Many times, a nav point will be your only clue to your next goal. Visiting other places and poking around new areas may yield even more alternative options, so even though there are only two endings, there is plenty of game being played.
While I have been singing Dishonored’s praises, the game itself is far from perfect. Enemy dialogue is rather repetitive apparently I’ve “made someone a widow” quite a few times. Corvo better hit the market, I guess there are hordes of lonely ladies out there. Also, I really wish that the heart item had more use, I seriously tried to use it on almost everyone and was disappointed that the ‘secrets’ about certain characters was just a ton of reused info or other stupid crap. I also felt slightly limited when that urge to explore hit me. I mean, there were little things here or there, but there really wasn’t huge rewards for trying to quench wanderlust. With the awesome abilities at my disposal, I just wanted to be able to do even more. I guess that is a good and bad thing.
In a time when new IPs aren’t overly successful or met with critical acclaim, Dishonored stands firmly on it’s own. Arkane has a winner on it’s hands and hopefully with The Outsider doing his thing, we will revisit the world or Dishonored time and time again. Dishonored is an exceptional original title and well worth all the attention it receives.
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- Holy crap! You can make your own choices in how you get things done!
- The story will draw you in until the last moments
- So much you can do with all your skills and weapons
- Overused voice clips
- Left me wanting even more
We played Dishonored on both Xbox 360 and PC. There was little to no difference between the 2 titles, so we will be rewarding only one score. If at any time this changes, we will revisit and make any necessary corrections. A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.