GAME REVIEW: 'Dishonored'
Format: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Developer: Arkane Studios
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
The grade: A–
What is it?
A first person action/stealth game set in the fictional city of Dunwall, a stylized steampunk town modeled after Victorian London. Gamers play as Corvo, a bodyguard framed for a murder he didn’t commit. Players use Corvo’s skills and magical abilities to seek revenge on those who are making a grab for power.
Sweet freedom. The style of play in “Dishonored” is completely left up to the player. Want to be stealthy and sneaky, slowly moving through the game looking for all the upgrades and optional mission objectives? No problem. Want to plow through enemies, killing everything in sight? Go for it. How about a combination of the two? There are multiple ways to complete a mission, so you can play “Dishonored” however you choose and it customizes itself to you. How?
Beautiful chaos. The game’s Chaos System is what allows for such customization. It’s a hidden mechanic that adjusts gameplay depending on how you work through a level. Detections, kill counts, bodies found, good deeds and several other factors are all closely monitored, providing an individualized experience for each gamer and giving “Dishonored” incredibly highly replay value.
Useful and meaningful abilities. Having cool powers doesn’t mean a thing if they’re not useful. Just ask anyone who’s ever played a Superman game. That’s not the case with “Dishonored.” Every ability, including teleportation, possession and freezing time, gives players a true sense of power and always proves useful in completing the game’s fun missions.
A potpourri of great gaming. Because of its setting and use of abilities many people will liken this title to “Bioshock,” which is valid comparison. While “Dishonored” certainly stands on its own, playing the game reminded me of two of my all-time favorite titles: “Metal Gear Solid” and “Batman: Arkham Asylum.” Just like in "Arkham" and "MGS," I’d often lurk around, listening to conversations and hiding stealthily before making a big move. Gadgets are replaced by powers in “Dishonored” but the overall gameplay feels familiar and is just as enjoyable.
Sincerest form of flattery. While “Dishonored” has similar gameplay elements to some well respected titles, it doesn’t quite reach the level of a “Bioshock” or an “Arkham Asylum” because of its average story. Gamers are thrust into a world with little background information and little exposition throughout the game, making it tough to care about the characters or the world they live in.
Fortune favors the cautious. Gamers are constantly reminded of the consequences of choosing to be more dangerous than sneaky. This is reflected in the gameplay with more enemies, different scenes/environment items, different conversations and even a different ending if you choose to be ruthless. Some gamers might feel like they’re being punished for using their preferred style.
“Dishonored” was a lot of fun to play but here’s the problem: It doesn’t have any numbers following its name. This game doesn’t have name recognition so it’s not as sexy as a “Halo 4” or a “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2,” which I’m sure will be great games. That said, don’t let a lack of numerals after a title discourage you from giving a new IP a shot.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.