The game ‘Dishonored’ is rightfully one of the best games of the year. As the IGN review puts it, if you’re tired of games holding your hands and feeling like a movie, if you want the freedom to roam and choose your own path—you will love ‘Dishonored’.
The game takes place in the city of Dunwall, a steampunk setting where half of the city is crawling down. A plague is right now enveloping the city, carried by rats. You play Corvo, an assassin you recently returned from an assignment to Dunwall. Once you return, the Empress you serve is murdered, her daughter is kidnapped, and you are framed for the crime. Now you must clear your name by finding the girl, the only one who knows your innocence.
The story is compelling enough to keep you interested. As is the case in many fantasy/science fiction/otherworldly stories, it’s the world as all its details that keep you interested; the story is simply there, no matter how simplistic or clichéd.
The game is very open-ended, with many paths rewarding you to different degrees. One choice is whether to barge into battle and kill all in sight, or to be stealthy and simply knock out all the enemies. Both methods result in radically different second-halves: being stealthy results in a better ending, and killing hands you a more dreary, depressing ending (as well as greater enemy presence and more rats to damage you).
The game is also gorgeous to look at. Its characters have exaggerated features but are close enough to human to be relatable; the uncanny valley is completely bypassed in this manner. Light streams through windows, dust floats, water cascades…and all of this with plague-ridden bodies in blankets, squealing rats, and generally disgusting sights in the cracks. With all its darkness, the game is beautiful.
The game is also ridiculously open-world. While sometimes it seems linear, there are a whole host of catacombs and nooks and crannies to investigate. There are runes and special powers scattered all around the world, and you have the option of exploring and finding them or continuing on straightforwardly. Either way, the game is fun.
My one qualm is one of originality—which I feel like is a relatively moot point in today’s world. I am a big fan of ‘Bioshock’, and even after playing ‘Dishonored’ I think the same thing: it is exactly like ‘Bioshock’ in a lot of ways. A weapon in one hand, magic powers in the other…the general tone…the way the story slowly unfurls at your pacing…the multiple endings depending on the treatment of your enemies…all of this was done before, and while it is done with just as much majesty here, it is still something that gamers have noticed.
But there are enough differences that, while comparable, the game can still stand on its own. Its partial insistence on at least trying stealth was something that ‘Bioshock’ didn’t even try. And because of all it does different, it is a remarkable success in terms of a game—I agree, this is one of—if not the—best game of the year.
For more reviews, visit http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/10/08/dishonored-review and http://www.gamespot.com/dishonored/reviews/dishonored-review-6397799/.