Dishonored Review

Betrayal, Chaos, And Disaster .

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 Vengeance comes at midnight, betrayal in the morning 

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Moment of revelation: stealth has been one of my favorite genres since… well, since forever. Fact, the first few videogames I ever tried were almost all stealth-based! Seriously, I just cannot tell you how fantastic-sounding to me was the idea of sneaking around places taking down enemies one by one without ever being noticed. The thrill behind every step, the short bursts of adrenaline, the roller-coaster of emotions that is succeeding, being happy, then getting sad again knowing how many attempts it took getting to that point-- oh, the good ol' days. Anyways, memories of a time long past aside, you can barely imagine the face I made when I found that the game I've been ignoring my entire life as a young teenager would turn out to be one of the most remarkable stealth title of an entire decade.
 

The name of that game is Dishonored, and for those of you unfamiliar with it, on October 9, 2012, one, if not the most well-received title in the action/stealth scene would be born; one that would top many popular game ranking lists, rubbing shoulders with true titans such as "Bow and Dagger ftw", as well as "Tailing Mission 4", favorites from a community of avid home invasion, and mid-night tiptoeing enjoyers such as myself. So, to say expectations were at abnormally high levels when first touching the game knowing all of its tremendous potential, would be at the very least a tiny little understatement.
 

And now, after playing the entire thing myself, I come here with hopes to share with you my experience venturing the plague-ridden city of Dunwall, in what was an extremely fun to explore tale of conspiracy, betrayal, and of course, dishonor. So hold on tight onto your seats ladies and ladsies, for this will be a rollercoaster

as we will be attempting to clear our name from accusations wrongfully placed over our heads in the earlier minutes on the body of Corvo Attano, former blade of the empress, and a man that has been through more ups and downs in life than many lift attendants.

(This review does NOT contain information on the DLCs nor any of its contents, so if you were hoping for my take on those, be advised)

Climbing Through Shadows: Echoes From The Past .
 

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Developer: Arkane Studios

Publisher: Bethesda Soft.

Release Date: October 9, 2012

Buying the game from the link above is a great way to support the site.

To start things off, I want to say right off the bat that in my experience Dishonored was indeed an amazing game, and in saying that there should be no doubt remaining over the length of this review it is truly deserving of the position it acquired at the top of its category. With that said, it’s also important to note that Dishonored still had a few lingering deficiencies, that as problematic as they were, were by no means enough to drag down the entire experience by any significant amount.

Taking place in an industrial setting, Dishonored adopts the term I like referring to as Oilpunk to portray the fictional whaling city of Dunwall, region the roughly 15 hours long story-focused adventure takes place, and where the booming cases of a rat-spread plague is used as a hook to put Corvo Attano, the game's protagonist into scene. Upon returning empty-handed from a diplomatic mission he was sent in the Empress' authority to obtain information regarding the plague, Corvo goes straight to the encounter of his leader to deliver the unfortunate news, without the knowledge that a carefully planned attack against the Empire was about to be set in motion, leading to the death of an Empress, the temporary disappearance of her daughter, and framing Corvo as guilty in the process.
 

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Fluid movements, impeccable world-building,

In regards to my previous comment, it is of my knowledge that to suggest something is 'amazing', or 'fantastic' with no evidence whatsoever to back it up, is by no means a convincing form of argumentation. Which, as my selection of words imply, what I will be addressing in the following lines should be the exact stuff that made the game so amazing to me in the first place. So hold on tight onto your seats ladies and ladsies, for I'm about to talk about something of utmost importance, something grand, something… uh… FEELINGS. That's right, feelings! Or, to be more specific, how it feels to play through the game.

But before we get to move forward, first let's try looking at what is it we usually call essential when it comes to any respectable story-driven title the likes of Dishonored. Done? Assuming your preferences are set remotely close to mine, I'd say meaningful, weighty actions with proper cause and consequence; a memorable — preferably — non-generic cast of secondary characters; fluidity of movement, alongside responsive controls and commands; (plus) an immersive world-building, should be some of the things many of you who acted accordingly just thought, and really what is to be expected from a game aiming to claim for itself a spot as one of the best.
 

As a first-person, the magnitude of the stuff we get to experience over the length of the game is magnified tenfold. It's from the corners of our very eyes that we get to see in full detail the kind of decadent, sickening state the streets have taken following the ascent to power of a man as repugnant as the squeaky rats that roam freely the dark corners of the city, stripping clean the bodies of men and women alike. From corpses rotting on open skies to corrupt guards that enjoy every minute of disintegrating the sick who flee their terrible lockdown, the game doesn't make an effort to hide this awful reality and I must admit, it's quite lovely to be on the sidelines, carrying the steel of change as events unfold.

 

Combat, for instance, makes full use of this tiny detail to ensure our killing isn't seem as morally wrong, but rather as a work of justice. The idea that what we kill throughout the game aren't really humans anymore, steadies our hand, making the act of craving our blades onto an enemy's throat from time to time not look that inhumane. Although nothing magnificent, gameplay in Dishonored is among one of the most fluid and enjoyable.............

So, how does Dishonored fare in this scenario? Well, for starters, the game hits almost every single mark from the mini–checklist we just came up with. This should speak a lot for itself, but in case you missed it, the keyword 'almost' is there to remind you once again where it is I stand opinion-wise, and to make it utterly clear the game also had its fair share of shortcomings, mostly being story and character-related. When not talking about any of these two, all the rest, be it world, controls, combat, quests, or ambiance would just sound borderline spectacular, however you want to look at it.

And still on the topic of things this game does amazingly right, visuals has to be the next in line!
 

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Accompanied by the stunning industrial cityscape of Dunwall, there's very little space to    call this game's visuals anything other than simply gorgeous

Contrary to expectations, for a game released in what feels like ages ago, Dishonored's visuals resisted remarkably well the passage of time. So well, in fact, I'd consider it to look just as good as about any other title released in recent years. Much like a painting, the graphics this game brings out is a spectacular combination of realism and a heavily themed art style that blend together to create picturesque aesthetics even modern games are barely able to compete. The sweet spot between rough and soft, detailed and plain, clear and obscure; a perfect balance that only adds to the experience, without ever getting too distracting for those visualizing it. There are several factors contributing to make the game what it is, but truly a few equate to its visual uniqueness.

Honestly, I could stand here for hours talking about graphics and neat things surrounding it, as well as other aspects I liked about the game. But that would be neither useful nor interesting in the long run. That's why moving forward the topics I chose to discuss will revolve more on the tangible realm; stuff like plotline, progression, characters, etc. In sequence, I will expand on quests along with our primary motivator in the mission laid ahead of us, so to further amplify our knowledge on how the game pans out.
 

The Strangest Of Attractions: A Twist For The Ages .
 

Just now when talking about stuff the game does right, I showed dissatisfaction with two specific things: story and characters. To elaborate, while I do believe the game did present a narrative that gets the job done, it's annoying to me how such a nice plotline was handled nearing a critical point. First and foremost, characters, or the NPCs we get to interact (or if you want to get more poetic, "our only allies in a dark, cruel world" ), are as two-dimensional as the bright mountainous background from Super Mario, lacking all the humane features that make us feel attached to fictional figures in books, movies, and novels. And we're talking main side characters here mind you, the ones who ride to battle with us, who stick to morals above their own safety, the people who, on paper, should be essential to the story.

Save maybe for old Samuel, the boatman, who is at least a tiny bit relatable and actually adds some form of value to the story instead of just rowing the damned boat, most characters are empty, uninteresting, and one could even argue pointless. Taking how there are perhaps one or two NPCs whose personality extends beyond plain dialogue as an example, it's not super difficult to see how erasing them from the shelf would not be too bad an idea, if only there was something else to replace them with. Now, that's totally up for debate, and the point here is not to dispute their usefulness, if there's any.

The key takeaway is that, while considerably bland, characters remain, to a certain degree, essential to how the story develops. Meaning, if there's one thing we can safely deduce is that characters are surely in the game for at least this singular reason: make the story more impactful-- which is where it falls flat, because of how comically predictable everything is.

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Although I obligatorily have to admit quite fun to explore, thanks to a forced twist for the sake of ramping up excitement, the story of Dishonored lost a fair bit of its vibrance in my eyes. The problem lies when the game unconvincingly ditches a few of the main characters' ability to think by making the unpleasant situation that you are in even worse in a weird attempt to close the book on a high note. A poorly baked turn of events which you can see coming from a mile away based on guesswork alone — the type you say jokingly in the first minutes of the game, and it somehow turns out to be the truth. There is no anticipation, no foreshadowing, no clues given, no nothing. Even notes added in the game for the exact purpose of giving context, none hint toward such dramatic change. It just comes out of thin air in an almost complete one-eighty motion that shocks absolutely nobody.

A good story needs structuring, it needs foundation, unwavering control to deliver a strong blow that actually impacts the receiving end. And truth be told,
Dishonored kind of have it going… until it is brutally hammered into a gelatinous state that doesn't smell nor make noise. Sure, it reignites that burning sensation we have at the beginning of the game where our entire being lives to seek revenge, but at what cost?

To alleviate, while I've had a hard time overcoming the storming pain
(irony) that was the ending of the game, I did not lose sleep over it, so chances are high you won't too. Plus there's no changing the fact that most of the game is extremely enjoyable, until the point it isn't-ish.

A Call From The Beyond .
 

Our mission in this game is seriously no joke if you think about it. I mean, we are tasked to take down some of the most powerful political figures out of an entire Empire! Add to it the fact we are armed by nothing but stones and sticks, you can get the point that this is no easy task from a normal human being's perspective. The type of quest no one should be able to manage on their own capacity unless they had a combination of monstrous talent, unbelievable luck, accompanied by supernatural tech added into the mix for that spice up effect.

If that sounds like too much, well, I hate to break it for you, but that's almost perfectly in line with how the wheel spins for our most honorable masked hero. First things first, the man is none other than the personal bodyguard for the crown, proving to be extremely skilled minutes into the game by single-handedly taking down a group of assassins sent after the Empress. Second, aided by a mysterious group of conspirators he manages to escape imprisonment a few days before the moment of his execution, which in my book reads as incredibly lucky all things considered. 
 

And if that wasn't enough buildup for yet another "chosen one" archetype, I present to you The Outsider, a plain-looking young man that if not for the circumstances of our first meeting, you'd assume a completely fine lad.
 

On the first night after breaking out of prison, during our sleep, we are taken into a place beyond mysterious…
 

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A piece of all that is, and all that has ever been, The Void offers an opportunity to obtain powers beyond comprehension, putting our goals not that far off.

Acting as a sort of in-between worlds, The Void, as referred to by multiple sources, is a dreamlike place that paints the picture of an ever-growing infinite space where almost everything we deem as real falls apart in a dramatic silent motion. The reason knowledge of this place is so important for the progression of this review is that due to our unexpected encounter, the odds of success in our future actions just went up by a great margin. That's because the enormous scope of our mission got the attention of Mr. Outsider, who is, in reality, a godlike being who for whatever reason has grown a great interest in mortal affairs that goes out of his way to grant his mark to those he finds suitable to obtain abilities beyond convenient.
 

A flavorful addition when it comes to stealth, Supernatural Abilities, as they are called in-game, are basically enhancements that you can acquire pretty early on through the spending of Runes in a sort of perk-like system to obtain skills tailored towards improving our character's ability to quickly and quietly take down enemies. The first one we ever acquire is Blink, a versatile long-range teleportation method that allows us to rapidly traverse areas without drawing any unnecessary amounts of attention. After that, acquiring new skills and improving upon existing ones becomes the main driving factor in terms of exploration, adding a hefty goal to keep players invested with the story and how it unfolds.
 

A straightforward system, with little space for major flaws, leaving even less space for criticism except for how it could have perhaps expanded upon the obtainable abilities, so to make exploration not lose its value halfway into the game, seeing as runes become practically useless after acquiring the desired skills. And even though the inclusion of blueprints helps as an alternative source of upgrades, it's still not nearly as adequate as to have upgrade items remain impactful throughout the entirety of the game.
 

Liberty And Exploration Of Possibilities: A Choice Is Given .
 

As we've seen before, there are certain elements about the game that feel shallow in comparison to others. One prime example is how there never is an instance where we, the player, need to be fully engaged with what's happening around our character in order to avoid danger. The idea that one slip might result in disastrous consequences? Inexistent. Another thing is how throughout the story we are so spoon-fed directions to a point I had to turn off quest markers to avoid going straight for objectives, actually giving myself the luxury of exploring areas a while longer.

It reverberates through a multitude of levels, this lack of player agency, which in turn create a fragilized backbone that struggle to grasp much of the primary reason why we play games to begin with — to have fun! Weighing almost fully into the player to find ways to extend their enjoyment on the game, quests give signs of life only through a most impressive designing of locations. Employing an extensive, multi-layered alternatives to paths we can take in the form of vents, roofs, open windows, manholes, trapdoors, among other things.

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Segmented into smaller chapters, each mission focuses on the elimination of high-profile targets that in one way or another used their elevated status to favor the coup as means to usurp the throne, which ultimately led to the demise and disappearance of two figures whom our protagonist had a very close relationship with. With our targets set straight, and vengeance being our one goal, the only thing left is to ask ourselves: how exactly do we want to achieve it? Each chapter of story is a white canvas, ready to be painted by whatever the player feels like throwing at it, and what the final picture will look like in the end is more or less in your full control. Should you paint it completely red, without regard for details, or will you softly stroke the parts that need it most?

Fact is, this question is so relevant to how the game plays out that from the very beginning we are even given a chance to choose between playing the game clean-handed — that is without staining our blade with the blood of others — or simply wreak havoc, killing any and everyone who dare stand in our path. There really are so many ways to approach any given mission, and granted a wide array of tools, as well as the aforementioned abilities, it's safe to say there's an almost unlimited amount of ground for players to work out plans and develop strategies, all ultimately leading to the common end of neutralizing relevant targets.

 

it doesn't have a good way to discern our actions from good to evil unless on the edge of the two extremes, there is no impactful decision making, and you either end the game as the 'good guy', or the 'bad guy', which is quite limiting to be perfectly honest.
 

Word of truth, while decisions didn't matter a whole lot in the long run, there's absolutely nothing holding you back from exercising what it truly means to be in the body of the legendary Corvo Attano, as you run over dark alleys, and hidden passageways, bearing witness to a crumbling society. The game is much more enjoyable this way.

Final Thoughts .
 

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Dishonored really is a multi-faceted gem

It goes without saying......... But overall really good stuff............

released a long time ago, it has remained a one of a kind wonder ever since

Dishonored is bottom line an alright game. One of the beast alright I have seen in video games. The reason I called it amazing is that there is no real competition.

This was a review of feelings

A lot of feelings going on, I know.

So, to get things started, there's one thing I want to say right off the bat, and it is that Dishonored was indeed an amazing game, and in saying that there should be no doubt remaining it is truly deserving of the position it acquired at the top of its category. There are so many things Dishonored does so incredibly well it would be uncanny to call it anything below that. With that said, placing it anywhere higher would also prove to be a slightly complicated task. The reason for it should become clear over the length of this review, but just in case any of my future ideas sound completely contrary to that initial statement, worry not, for when talking about something of numerous qualities and deficiencies such as Dishonored, it really becomes difficult to find or see such balance without personally experiencing the thing yourself, so my suggestion would be to just try and bear with me through this one knowing that, at the end of the day, everything turned out just fine.
 

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Incredible liberty with each mission, allowing players to take down objectives however they want, most of the time.

Unique visuals / art-style, with a cartoony yet realistic look that work really well to create a unique setting.

High replayability value, with new events that may unfold depending on your actions and how you approach missions.

Fluid animations, responsive commands, and interesting stealth mechanics.

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Sometimes dumb or unrealistic enemy AI, with crazy inhuman detection speeds (speed varies based on the difficulty setting).

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Clear difficulty gap between playstyles, being significantly harder to play the game in a specific way (stealth).

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Plot can be quite predictable, even from the very beginning, but it was still satisfactory nonetheless.

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The art-style might not please everyone mostly because of the cartoonish visuals, but for me personally, it was pretty good.

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Dishonored

A unique game that offers a memorable experience, and is really good at keeping players engaged with the story and how it unfolds. The game rewards strategy and creative thinking, as well as timing and precision which adds a lot to the overall experience and gameplay.

06/18/2020 - Caius, The Magic Assassin

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