Developer(s) – Arkane Studios
Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks
Director(s) – Raphael Colantolio & Harvey Smith
Designer – Ricardo Bare
Released in the holiday season of 2012, Dishonored was a game that unfortunately and bafflingly fell through the cracks, since at the time, the game rightfully garnished many favourable reviews from critics, and would be supported with several DC expansion packs, as well as a game of the year edition. Critics have gone so far as to put this game on par with the likes of BioShock, and whilst I personally wouldn’t do that, it certainly has earned cult status, and am sure will go down as one of the most memorable gaming experiences of the seventh generation.
Graphics – 8/10
The setting of Dishonored is a futuristic dystopian city called Dunwall; which was inspired by the gothic architecture and elements of the Industrial Revolution synonymous with the Victorian era. Specifically, the cities of London and Edinburgh during the 1800s and 1900s were chosen as inspiration, as well as the works of 19th century artist, John Atkinson Grimshaw. Combined with elements of science fiction, such as the Tallboys (towering machines made from huge mechanics legs) and examples of advanced technology, it makes the city of Dunwall an extremely intriguing setting, as well as providing different atmospheres depending on how players choose to approach the game. For instance, if the player chooses to kill each prime target as opposed to publicly exposing them, the city streets will be infested with rats, and by proxy, will raise the game’s difficulty level.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
The game is a first-person stealth game with a small RPG element to it. The objective is to either kill or expose a prime target, whilst at the same time, trying to find a way to either subdue patrolling guards, or sneaking past them, using not only stealth and weaponry, but also an array of magical powers the player can earn throughout the course of the game. It’s a lot like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but it’s far more interesting, with many more ways in which to approach each individual situation, through either possessing animals to get around, or generating a swarm of rats to dispatch enemies without being detected.
Controls – 10/10
Since Bethesda had made a multitude of first-person games throughout the seventh generation, including Oblivion, Skyrim and Fallout 3, it was natural to assume that there wouldn’t be a problem with Dishonored; and so there isn’t. All the many different mechanics in the game are simple to get to grips with, despite the fact that this game works slightly differently to any of the three aforementioned examples.
Lifespan – 6/10
Clocking in at about 20-25 hours, the lifespan is one of the game’s most disappointing features, along with it’s linearity, for a great game, which could have been so much better than it turned out to be in scope. As far as the industry knows, there is a sequel on the way, which is where I hope the addressing of these issues come in, but if this aspect is indeed improved, then I cant help but think of how much of an enhancement it would be compared to the original game.
Storyline – 9/10
The story of Dishonored follows Corvo Attano; an expert assassins and personal bodyguard of the Empress of Dunwall, who is murdered on his watch by an unknown party, but is then falsely accused by the empire of her murder and imprisoned to await public execution. However, using his unrivalled abilities as an assassin and/or mastery of stealth, Corvo manages to escape from prison, and upon doing so, meets up with a coalition called the Loyalists, who are resolving to uncover the conspiracy behind the Empress’s death, and restore her daughter to the throne, and so enlist Corvo to help them do so. It’s a fantastic narrative filled with twists and turns throughout, and features the voice talents of an impressive cast, including the likes of Chloe Grace Moretz, Carrie Fisher, Lena Headey, Brad Dourif and Susan Sarandon.
Originality – 7/10
Though at this point, this kind of thing had been done before throughout the seventh generation of gaming, the gameplay in Dishonored takes on a very unique perspective, and makes it all the more memorable, and by proxy, all the more criminal that this game wasn’t given more attention at the time of it’s release. The plot makes for that much more of an immersing experience, and there’s no reason that the entire mythos could be expanded upon the release of either a sequel, or a spin-off.
In all, Dishonored is certainly a game worth trying at least once. It’s certainly one of the better stealth games I’ve ever experienced, and goes leaps and bounds ahead of many of the more mainstream releases over the 2012 holiday season.