Posted on Monday, November 12th, 2012 at 12:30 PM by Guest
Revenge Solves Everything.
Imagine yourself in a steampunk England around the time of Queen Victoria. You are the personal bodyguard for the country’s beloved empress and her little girl. You have just returned from a diplomatic mission to the other cities in the empire and come to give your report to empress, but you are interrupted by assassins who can disappear from one place and reappear in another. Despite a valiant effort, the empress is assassinated, and you are blamed. While awaiting trial, you discover that you were played for a patsy, someone to take the fall for the empress’s death, by the other members of the late empress’s court. You escape and find a resistance has formed to depose the current government of its ill-gotten power. With your help, the resistance will overthrow the Lord Regent and his puppet government and put the orphaned princess, the rightful heir, on the throne. This is the world of Dishonored, a first-person, stealth-action sandbox game from Arkane Studios and Bethesda Software, and in this world, revenge solves everything™.
As expounded on above, the point of this game is to get revenge on the people who framed you for the empress’s murder. After your escape from prison, the resistance wastes no time in putting your skills to use, sending you after members of the new government to kill them and remove the roadblocks to putting Princess Emily on the throne. Each mission is gotten from a member of the Resistance and starts with you shuttled to a location by the friendly ferryman. From there, you have the choice to either be as quiet as possible, leaving no trace of yourself, or to carve a swath through the city, leaving a trail of bodies behind you as you bear down on your objective.
The Best Offense in This Case is a Good Defense.
Either way affects how the city reacts and how much more oppressive the dictatorial regime becomes. If you choose to leave no body unmarred, then things will become progressively worse in the city. The plague under which the people are suffering will take more lives, due to the increased number of rats feeding on the corpses you leave behind. If, on the other hand, you choose the path of nonviolence, then the city’s fate becomes that much brighter, with fewer rats carrying the plague and more of them being slaughtered every day.
The one thing I liked most about this was that the game randomizes how the NPCs react each time. They listen carefully for things out of the ordinary and react believably when they think they hear or see something strange. It is actually somewhat more difficult than I thought to remain in the shadows. I found myself using my own teleport ability, hereafter called Blink, to get away more than I thought I would, which is great because it told me that the design team did not skimp on the intelligence of the enemy AI.
Insert Obligatory Matrix Reference Here
And with the enemies as smart as they are, and the dearth of weapons available to Corvo, you’ll need every advantage you can get. You have only a pistol, a sword, and a crossbow for weapons, with the sword fixed on the right hand and the left hand mutable to use other weapons and abilities, while the enemies have what are called “Walls of Light,” a literal force field that vaporizes anyone not attuned to it, and pylons that shoot chain lightning if you get too close.
With all the power brought to bear against you, it’s lucky you have magical abilities given to you by the Outsider, a supernatural deity worshipped by some, and feared by the dictatorial government. There are ten powers in all, ranging from passive powers like Blink and Dark Vision, which lets you see items and enemies through walls, much like Batman’s Detective Vision in the Arkhamverse, to offensive powers like Devouring Swarm, which summons a swarm of rats to consume an enemy, and Shadow Kill, which turns enemies to ash upon a stealth kill. And with forty-plus bone charms and runes to upgrade your abilities, you can become much more than a match for anything the Lord Regent can throw at you.
A Trip with the… Ferryman
Missions are given via Loyalist NPCs and offer many different avenues to completion. Your path throughout the missions directly influences how the world changes, what security measures are implemented, and ultimately whether the city of Dunwall will survive the plague or not. And while on your way to your objective, you might come upon other NPCs with sidequests that could also affect the outcome. For example, when tasked with assassinating a pair of twin brothers with powerful positions in Dunwall’s parliament, an NPC in the abandoned brewery says he’ll make it worth your while to help him kidnap them instead. This is also a good example of how the game originally offers nonviolent solutions if you prefer. While the game doesn’t exactly have a morality meter per se, like Mass Effect or inFAMOUS, it does measure your actions by the amount of chaos you cause. The more chaos that ensues from your overt actions, the worse conditions become. More dead bodies from your altercations with guards means more plague-ridden rats and tighter restrictions from the regime. Alternatively, sticking to the shadows and staying away from unnecessary combat will facilitate better conditions for the citizenry. All in all, the game strikes a good balance between linearity and freedom of exploration while giving you the option to revisit past missions at any time to try for a better score.
They Really Don’t Like People Being Late to the Party
As with all big-name, multiplatform games, the question is, which platform looks better? By the numbers, according to Eurogamer, Xbox has a smaller disc size as well as an optional install, whereas PS3’s disc is double the size of Xbox’s and has a mandatory install, but despite this, no platform — PC included — could claim graphical superiority. Having bought it on 360, I’m partial to that version. I felt like I could almost touch the grime in the city’s corners and smell the stench from Gen. Havelock’s cigars.
Dishonored puts you in the shoes of a wrongly disgraced royal bodyguard and allows you the freedom to revenge yourself as you see fit, exactly what I think people would want in such a situation. You can either rage through the ranks of the Lord Regent’s army, leaving none alive, or pass them by without a sound, but whatever path you take, you’ll be sure to have fun on your way.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
Not a perfect outing, as finding EVERYTHING in Dunwall is very time-consuming and will most likely require a guide, but the promise of revenge on those who wronged Corvo and orphaned Lady Emily kept me playing into the night on more than one occasion.
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