Dishonored isn't available until tomorrow, but reviews for the stealth-action title appeared far and wide today. Reviewers seemed mixed over whether the story writers were too busy hiding in shadows to pay attention to the tale's conclusion, but seem unanimously agreed on one thing. Stepping into the shoes of an assassin hell-bent on revenge may not be exactly honorable, but with dozens of different ways to leave (or avoid leaving) a grisly trail of creatively murdered bodies in Corvo's wake, it sure is entertaining.
You don't have to kill if you apply yourself, and achieving this conveys Dishonored's biggest personal rewards.
It's a brave and interesting statement to make about responsibility and the nature of choice, and if you don't mind being mildly rebuked for having uncomplicated fun, you don't need to engage with it at all. For the rest of us, it adds another layer to this sad city. It's a rare delight to play a game with such consistency of vision, its art design, level architecture, rulesets, storylines and writing all working in lockstep. It's more than enough to give you a deep connection to Dunwall, and the impulse to work to save it.
You will do many things in Dishonored that you have done in other games - you'll sneak, you'll snipe, you'll knife guys in the neck, you'll upgrade your gadgets and throw some grenades, and you'll gawp at how elegantly you do it. What you won't do is ever forget that you're in a city fueled by whale oil and threatened by street gangs, where the rich hide behind the City Watch and the poor weep blood in the streets. You'll never feel like a visitor in Dishonored, like some impartial observer just there to cause some trouble and go. The details of life on the Isles seep unobtrusively into your pores until you cannot help but feel like a citizen of Dunwall yourself: a very pissed off citizen.
Though I was frustrated by the chaos system and how it steers your actions, the heart of Dishonored is about being inventive, adaptable, and ruthless. The team at Arkane Studios has injected an array of cool possibilities into the simulated city of Dunwall, and discovering them all is a blast. When you come face-to-face with the people who wronged you, your only dilemma is deciding which poetic method of elimination will produce coolest result.
At the end of the day, Dishonored doesn't change the face of the first person or stealth genre, but it contains some fairly neat concepts and presents them in a very playable manner. If you're not into replaying things over and over, you may want to wait for a price-cut, but if you have an open mind, I can't see you not liking Dishonored.
Interesting mission setups, constantly changing locations, and always diverse moment-to-moment interactions with the game's enemies is Dishonored's killer combination.
It's a good thing, too, since Dishonored is an excellent game, and one worthy of your attention. Dishonored's greatest contribution to the genre games like Deus Ex helped establish will be best appreciated by those who've been with it from the start, but Arkane has made a game rooted in manipulating artificial intelligence that plays just as well to the guy or gal who wants to shoot stuff. That's impressive.
It's a shame that Dishonored's story isn't greater than the sum of its decidedly memorable parts, but its gameplay absolutely is. Each mission is built as an elaborate network of choices for players to explore, and the same can be said for Corvo himself. Each player's selection of powers, perks and other upgrades will inform how they see and interact with this world, and no two play-throughs will be exactly the same. Dishonored is a game you'll talk with your friends about, and that you'll want to play multiple times. In this game there are always other paths to be taken and other challenges to conquer, and that's a refreshing thing indeed.
The fact that someone's still putting real effort into the PC version of their multi-platform game is one good reason to buy it. But with Dishonored, there are quite a few. The fact that it doesn't have any unskippable boss fights. That it's one of the few major new games that isn't a sequel or a remake. That a developer went to huge lengths to allow players this much freedom, and a publisher gave them the time and money to make it this slick.
It's a big, shiny example of so much we keep asking for in games, but rarely get. Luckily, the best way to vindicate it is to buy and then play an amazing game.
Playing a video game usually feels like battling against a designer's mind. Can you figure out exactly how to get past this obstacle? Can you find the solution to this next puzzle? Can you move quickly enough to defeat this boss?
Dishonored is different. Playing Dishonored feels like entering a designer's playpen. You're given a set of tools and encouraged to experiment with them, to break them, to explore and adventure and read and fiddle and sneak and kill. Freedom never felt so good.