Video Game Review: Dishonored (2012)

How would you seek revenge?

Nevin P. Jones | Collegio Writer

Your targets are in a brothel, part of the scum helping to rot this once great city, slowly turning it into forgotten history. These men? They need to be disposed of quickly and quietly.
The question presents itself: How do you do it? Do you sneak in the front door and slit the throat of anyone in your way, increasing the rat-infested plague eating away at the city’s inhabitants? Perhaps, a less noticeable approach is more your style? No need to get your hands dirty at all. Let the local thug boss ship the brothers off to their own salt mines where he’ll cut out their tongues and force them to wander through life maimed, in the living hell that they have put so many other poor souls through.

Central protaganish Corvo Attano in "Dishonored" (2012, Bethesda).

Central protaganish Corvo Attano in “Dishonored” (2012, Bethesda).

The choice is yours and that is where the fun of “Dishonored” stands out. Each level is a sandbox of stealth heaven with many paths and objectives strewn before you. The fate of these men rests on the tip of your blade, a blade that can either be the hand of chaos or the hand of a saint.
You play as Corvo Attano, high protector of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin in the city of Dunwall. While returning home from a mission to seek help from other countries against the rat plague, you are framed for the assassination of the empress, who was murdered right before your eyes. After a six-month stint in jail, a loyalist faction helps orchestrate your escape and sets you on the path of revenge against those who betrayed you. Your mission? Give power over the city back to the proper family by finding the emmpress’s kidnapped daughter, Emily, thereby ensuring her rightful spot on the throne.
The story plays out through nine missions full of entertaining twists and turns. It eventually falters in the payoff near the end. A better resolution would have been nice, so you can see what happened to the characters, instead of the still pictures you get at the end. However, this is only a minor flaw.
“Dishonored” is a stealth-action game that lets the player choose the way to play the game. Each level has paths to the objective and many ways for the mission to conclude. It is actually possible to beat the game without killing a single person. This requires some major time and strategizing, but it can be done. I decided that this route would not be as much fun, so I became a whirlwind of chaos and death. The game gives you so many weapons and powers that it seemed insulting not to use them.
The player’s powers are given by the Outsider, a figure who is described as a devil and a god. They are ridiculous and supernatural and are upgradeable. The powers include stopping time, teleporting, increasing agility, summoning rats, seeing enemies through walls and more. Artifacts called Runes and Bones can be found and are used for upgrades.
The real fun starts once you begin to upgrade your abilities. Stopping time and pinning a razor trap onto a guard in a crowd is good gory fun, once time resumes and it shreds everyone surrounding him. A problem crops up near the end when you become almost too powerful. I began to stop sneaking around because I could just stop time and slit four throats in an instant without ever being noticed. Playing on a higher difficulty level takes care of that problem.
In addition to the slightly unsatisfying conclusion, and the powers being too strong at times, the mechanics of the game did not always work. I found myself having trouble climbing objects multiple times or the game making me block when I wanted to choke someone out. These aren’t awful flaws, but they did detract from my experience. Another shortcoming was some of the textures. The game has inspiring art design with great sound and voice work, but the textures appear muddled and ugly in certain places. If the design work wasn’t gorgeous, then this could have been distracting.
In the end, “Dishonored” is a wonderful game that gives the player freedom to choose his experience. The game demands playing it many times to explore all the routes and there is always something new to be discovered. “Dishonored” is a breath of fresh air in a crowd of linear titles.

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