"Several Great Tastes that Taste Great Together"
In a long line of first-person games that have surfaced this generation, Dishonored hopes to break the monotony. The premise is certainly engaging and both the background story and presentation are top-notch. Instead of focusing on and perfecting any single element, the game throws a variety of mechanics at you to keep gameplay freshly entertaining.
Your adventure begins as you take on the role of a legendary bodyguard by the name of Corvo Attano. Unfortunately, Corvo is subsequently framed for the murder of his important charge, the Empress. Months later, after breaking out of prison, a quick series of events transpire that compel Corvo to use his adequate skill-set to pursue bloody revenge against those who ruined his life and reputation and killed his dear friend.
Your adversarial fodder comes in the form of the infected Weepers, ragingly violent and uncontrollable people inflicted by the plague spread by the prevalent rats of the city. The isolated rich and oppressively powerful take this plague as a poorly disguised excuse to cleanse the lower classes as they so please, making for a fairly interesting social caste conflict storyline. Against Dishonored's narrative backdrop lies a setting that is a charming mix of story elements.
It felt like every idea suggested was actually included in the game. It takes place in an industrial city reminiscent of late 19th century London, except for the presence of powerful, armored giant technological monstrosities, which look strikingly similar to the alien intruders of War of the Worlds, that toweringly patrol the streets. Further, districts are closed off by powerful energy fields that disintegrate anyone that tries to cross them. The foundation for all of this is whale oil, perhaps the most valuable resource that this remarkably advanced world runs on.
Beyond the Dishonored setting, the actual gameplay is a strange amalgamation of the aspects of other games. Previews promised that you could tackle objectives in a variety of manners. Prefer to stick to the shadows and accomplish your mission via stealth? The game accommodates your silent predilection. Stealth gameplay and the first-person perspective generally do not work out too well together considering the limited peripheral vision afforded by the camera (see: Deus Ex: Human Revolution), but at least the option is available to you. Corvo also has smooth rooftop traversing abilities to navigate the astonishing verticality of the city that call to mind Mirror's Edge.
Want to go guns and powers ablazing? You also have that option. In order to aid in your assassination missions, a mysterious character called the Outsider instills the player character with a variety of fantastic magical abilities. The variety of gameplay offered by this element will inevitably draw comparisons to 2007's BioShock. Given the atmospheric gameplay that both Dishonored and BioShock offer, that comparison is not unwarranted. Much like with BioShock's plasmids, you are both able and encouraged to combine disparate active and passive supernatural abilities to create some clever and devastating moves.
Dishonored does offer you plenty of choices, to be sure. Depending on how the game's underlying "Chaos" system has been tracking and judging your actions, you are opened to, and subsequently closed off from, certain rewards. It is possible to take on each missions' targets with a non-lethal approach, and the difficulty in accomplishing that is, of course, appropriately higher (as are the rewards) than the more aggressive alternative.
It is the common choice between stealth (where the tense setting of the city remains relatively calm and civil), combative action (where riotous violence runs rampant), or a balanced combination of both (which acts as more of a neutral position) that makes for fairly unique playthroughs. The setting reacts to and fittingly reflects your choices. A smattering of dialogue choices affect the plot, but the consequences of your actions garner much more influence. Couple these two elements and multiple, slightly different endings are possible.
Dishonored is a mishmash of varying gameplay elements. How you take to the abundant variety is the key between deeming it either an altogether unfocused mess or wonderfully entertaining experience.
GameDynamo's Score for Dishonored (PC)
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