#1019 Dishonored

Posted: 23rd June 2018 by Jeroen in Games
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703rd played so far

Genre: Stealth
Platform: Playstation 3/Xbox 360/PC
Year of Release: 2012
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

While this game came up, we’ve had the release of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider just behind us, which had some great reviews while simultaneously feeling like it might be the end of the series. It’s always felt quite acclaimed and important, but I guess it never quite caught on (especially for the numbers Bethesda might expect…).

In the mean time, I’ve held back on the first game in the series. It’s significant enough to be known to be good, a modern step in the stealth game. I have to try it, and this feels like the time to do it.

Our Thoughts

Some time ago, we played Thief: The Dark Project. It created large stealth levels, set in houses and environments that let you create your own path through the world based on your playstyle and chosen equipment. Ignoring Dishonored‘s opening level – mostly a fairly linear affair that takes you through sewers as you break out of prison (did I mentioned this was published by Bethesda? There’s a theme) – you end up in these large city blocks. There are definite constraints to your movement, but the first level allows for a (likely suicidal) frontal assualt or at least one or two side passages further. They are larger, here, but that’s not just time – it allows each level to be filled with content. There are the (by now obligatory) collectibles listed, as well as numerous side quests that you get told about as you go on. This can go from a break in into a fancy house to helping out strangers or taking out smaller gangs.

You get a bunch of powers that help you along, upgraded with the runes you collect along the way. Blink, a short range teleport is the first one, but aside from passive abilities like health upgrades, you get a chance to possess other creatures, freeze time or see enemies through walls. It’s the power of the mask you possess, set up in some weird story cut scenes that I haven’t quite worked out yet. The whole thing gives you a decent sense of mobility and superiority over your victims, especially with the innate stealth your character possesses even before he’s magic.

That allows the game to take stealth to its own version of perfection. In the dystopic world, it makes sense that soldiers have their spaces and paths and not everyone needs realistic AI – those that would usually aren’t in the areas you can access. It’s not exactly a living world – it doesn’t need to be – but it’s a world that rewards your stealthy walks while allowing for violent binges.

The chaos system – where, in short, the world changes based on how violent you are – further rewards stealth and I believe the story changes based on how violent you get – less is better, preserving the legacy of the queen whose murder made you an outlaw. It’s a challenging game to keep to stealth and while I haven’t been able to see all the consequences, it creates a sense that what you do matters far more than you get elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

As amazing as the game looks – it’s a grimy city with some lovely architecture, leaning heavily on a steampunk setup – it really doesn’t matter that much when playing it. It creates the right atmosphere, it puts you in the right mindset, but it’s not what makes the game great. That comes from some polished stealth setups, encouraging use of your powers that, when it works out, feels really good. Not that I’ve quite managed that all the time… but it’s been great to explore this world and see what’s in there.