Review: Dishonored

Over a decade ago the Thief and Deus Ex series went about changing the way that people looked at first person shooters.  While some people look back and see these as a gold age of awesome that can’t be topped, it is also import to note that most games didn’t ever end up going down that path because the sequels always managed to be entirely less than the sum of their parts.  It is good to know, now, that after all this time there is finally one game that is frankly better than those two after all this time.

Dishonored’s world is something of a Victorian Steam Punk’s wet dream.  Everything seems to be built out of hundreds of moving parts, always seems like it is in precarious danger of breaking due to over use, and is powered by the obscure and forgotten fuel source: whale oil.  Everything scattered through the environment, be it loose change to empty bottles, feels like it was set there with a purpose and not simply randomly generated as the player entered the zone.  Without a doubt Dishonored’s greatest achievement ends up being its sense of place.

The game boasts that you can play through both lethal and non-lethally, but for most players it is going to be some kind of odd mixture of the two as there are times—namely after getting discovered—that it is difficult to keep playing without either returning to a previous save or simply slaughtering the one or two offending guards.  The game will throw up the stats of how many people died in a level, how many bodies became discovered, and several others, but for most people this will probably only seem like another look at their actions as opposed to something to strive to min/max.

These two different play styles manage to lend themselves to the way that the game itself seems to be set up, mainly the entire sense of freedom that they strive for in the moment to moment play.  Early in the game there is a check point that the player must get through, and the tutorial suggests two or three ways that they might want to go about doing that, the problem with all of this is that while the game might be suggesting a handful there are really countless ways to do it—even to the point that the entire thing can almost be ignored if the player wants.

Like the games that came before it Dishonored does a great job setting a mood, a place, and even the player freedom from the start of the game.  Like most of those games before it there is really something that must played to fully experience, as there really isn’t any way to tell someone the twelve different tricks that you used dark magic to escape from an alerted guard.  When it comes right down to it Dishonored is one of the few games that have come out, almost ever, that can wholeheartedly be blindly recommended to almost anyone with a system to play it on.  For those without such a system they may want to look into investing in one.

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