The new IP published by Bethesda and developed by the little known team at Arkane has finally launched, but will the new brand be able to satisfy hungry gamers?
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Classic Tale Of Revenge: The narrative of Dishonored revolves around Corvo Attano, the head bodyguard to the Empress. At the start of the title Corvo is sent away to seek aid and a possible cure for the sickness and plague that is ravaging the city of Dunwall.Corvo has no good news from neighboring cities while looking for a relief to the mysterious plague set upon the city and the game begins as you just come back from your expeditions. When the Empress is assassinated and her daughter, the heir to the throne, is kidnapped, Corvo is framed for the murder. After escaping from prison thanks to the help of mysterious allies, Corvo is set on a path for revenge and answers to discover who assassinated the Empress and for what purpose. Of course, Corvo seeks revenge along the way as well. Although the story is not terribly original in the sense that it revolves around a man being framed for murder and eventually seeking answers, the plot is actually quite well done. Dishonored progresses nicely and the storyline does a good job of engrossing you into the plot. Some of the turns in the story are slightly predictable at times but for the most part, even if you have suspicions of future plot progressions, you will be very intrigued to see the story through to the end.
Shrouded In Darkness: The story is also multi-faceted in the way that although there is only one primary storyline, that plot can branch and changes throughout the game depending on your actions. Your approach to the missions you undertake will alter the final "Chaos" rating you are given at the end of the level, earning either a High or Low rating.The differences in your Chaos Rating alter not only the story itself but also your interactions with allies and how they see you. Not only that, but the city is altered by your decisions as your home is stricken with more cases of the plague (corpses attract plague infested rats) and a generally darker overtone if you leave a trail of bodies behind you. If you earn an undesired rating at the end of the level you even have the chance to immediately re-play it in search of a more preferable Chaos Rating. That being said, while it is nice to know that you can re-play the missions as many times as you want until you achieve your desired result, you may find yourself spending hours re-playing missions if you seek a Low Chaos rating. It requires very little effort to attain a High Chaos rating but only the most deep thinking and crafty players will be able to pull off Low Chaos ratings on a remotely consistent basis. A few bodies alone may put you in the land of no return and force a High Chaos rating onto you and it definitely requires thought and proper timing to secure the elusive opposite grade at the end of the level.
Hack And Slash...And Stab...And Shoot: As far as the gameplay goes, Dishonored manages to surprisingly appeal to both the inner Rambo and Solid Snake inside every gamer. While you are fully welcome to rush in and take on the entire world, you are also free to take on the more difficult but arguably more satisfying path of stealth and non-lethal attacks.At your disposal to eliminate your enemies is a fairly limited array of base weapons that are diversified by ammunition types. Pistols typically only carry regular bullets but you can find upgrades that allow your gun to unload other types of ammo, such as incendiary rounds. Crossbows are subject to the same thing as they carry a variety of bolts such as sleep-inducing bolts and, again, explosive incendiary shots. The bread and butter of the gameplay revolves less around the variety of your armaments though, and more about how you use them. Sleeping bolts and your trusty blade is a wannabe ninja's best friend but if you do not mind making a lot of noise and attracting a lot of attention, guns and grenades are available to you. Aside from pure weaponry, the protagonist in Dishonored is also endowed with supernatural powers from fairly early in the game. Here, the skills are a bit more varied as you are able to purchase, unlock and upgrade abilities with a difficult to find currency called "Runes". There are only a set number of Runes per level, thus emphasizing the need to think about your purchases and what you may find useful on your trails. More advanced skills like Shadow Kill (which turn dead bodies into ash to prevent their discovery) and Possession (self-explanatory) are fun to use and have their unique purposes but even basic skills like Blink (a short range instant teleportation) are immensely satisfying to use. As a whole the gameplay and combat is quite visceral and not as easy as it may appear. Blocking and countering your enemies attacks is a crucial part of being an effective combatant and when combined with the skills or weapons you choose to wield in your off-hand (right hand always has a blade, left hand always has a skill or weapon) you will find the combat to be fairly intense. Particularly so when you are tasked with fighting off multiple enemies, as they will all react differently to you and how you are attempting to fight them. Attack too aggressively and they may block and counter your assaults, but play too passively and they may just shoot you in the face with their off-handed weapon!
Play Your Way: A large focus of Dishonored also rests on the ability to "Play Your Way", a phrase that is reiterated at multiple turns throughout the game. Each mission, particularly as you progress further along the game, will give you a multitude of options to find, reach and eliminate your targets.There are multiple pathways into each area that you are required to reach and the options can differ as little as which window on which side of the building to climb through, or more complex options like possessing rats and sneaking in, or walking through the front door after taking control of a guard. The world of Dishonored is meant to appear to be open world, but in reality the title is quite linear. You are given set objectives and you rarely find yourself straying too far off the path of your objectives unless you are undertaking the optional side missions that, of course, relate to and alter your primary quest. Many of the rooftops, air vents and balconies you see throughout the world are open to you to climb all over if you so choose (heavily utilizing Blink to reach high places), but in terms of actual exploration, there is less to do than it may appear. Each level and environment that you are allowed to enter are populated with a bevy of hidden items, money, ammo and general loot but you are far from being able to walk into just any door or house and explore the interiors. Rather, you are given the option to explore the interiors of specific locations, most of which you end up discovering due to the main storyline anyway. The multiple levels of each building and the ability to scale rooftops and give yourself an uncommon path to your goal is nice, but the game is a bit misleading when you hear the claims that you can "explore the city", implying you can truly do such a thing.
Can You See Me Now? Now, for everything Dishonored does well, there are a couple of shortcomings. They are nothing game breaking or terribly significant, but just a couple of factors that keep this from being a rightful winner of any Game of the Year awards.For starters, the subtitled text in the game is abnormally small and the color of the subtitles is not suitable to the game at all. The text, which is often light colored or white, can barely be read at times when your view is filled up with a similarly light colored environment. As far as the tiny text goes, there is no option to increase the size of the subtitles displayed on the screen. When you are not fighting to read the text through nearly exactly colored environments, you will be subjected to the occasional eye strain to read some of the longer and further miniaturized subtitles. In addition, the visuals in Dishonored are decent but do not quite meet the standards of an elite title. The animations are well done most of the time and graphical issues like clipping and the like are rare occurrences but some of the character models look a bit disproportionate at times.
Rent vs. Buy: All things considered, Dishonored did a good job of being a breakout title for a studio that had little reputation prior to introducing this brand new IP to the masses. Admittedly Dishonored is not a game that has a lot of original ideas but it refines a lot of previously seen schemes and is generally a well done title.The storyline is easily good enough to entertain you long enough to see the story through to the end, which, depending on how quickly you play through the missions and whether or not you re-play them in search of a desired rating, will cost you a respectable amount of time to finish. The gameplay and the aspect of your actions having repercussions on the world are nice dynamics as well, and act as motivation to strive to be more precise than your typical run 'n gun title. Voice acting was top notch and featured work from notable, real life actors and I feel that Dishonored has established itself as one of the better games of the year. It is not the end all be all to gaming and fails to truly revolutionize anything but I feel the title does a good job of appealing to both slower paced and more hot-blooded gamers, a rare and admirable feat that allows this title to deserve to be played by as many people as possible.
All things considered, Dishonored did a good job of being a breakout title for a studio that had little reputation prior to introducing this brand new IP to the masses. Admittedly Dishonored is not a game that has a lot of original ideas but it refines a lot of previously seen schemes and is generally a well done title.
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