Not going to dis the honour.
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Nov 9, 2012 13:48 (Nov 9, 2012 13:48)
Written by: Alex
"Dishonored" has garnered a lot of attention since it was first unveiled. Its unique 1800-esqu setting and steampunk aesthetic instantly caught the eye of a gaming public bored of space marines and modern warfare, while its branching mission structure hinted at something more than the standard first-person action fare. Now finally released, Bethesda’s new offering delivers on all of its promise with an assuredness few were expecting.
As the name suggests Dishonored is about a man, Corvo, who has fallen from grace. The opening scenes show him returning to his home, the city of Dunwall, having been sent by his Empress to find a cure for the plague that is destroying the city.
Approaching the palace from the sea, these opening moments do a lot to establish the feel of the steampunk reinvention of 1800’s London. Pulling into the huge stone structure, a massive lock (as in a canal lock, not a door) lifts Corvo’s industrial looking barge hundreds of feet in to the air. This reliance on chains, water power and (oddly) whale oil, instantly sets up the world; forming an expectation for the look and feel that is to run throughout.
From an opening monologue it is already it is clear that the bodyguard is more to the Empress than a protector, almost an extension of the family, a fact confirmed by the arrival of the Empress’s daughter, Emily. She runs up, joyous at Corvo’s return, wanting to play. It is a perfect moment, showing the closeness of the family while introducing the dialogue choice mechanic; even offering a brief tutorial of the stealth system if he joins Emily for a game of hide and seek.
After this it is off to the Empress to deliver the bad news that none of the other empires have any solution to the plague. More of the cast are met on the way, showing off the way incidental dialogue will be used to consistently bring colour to the world as the game progresses, while foreshadowing the story’s major players.
Finally reaching the Empress, Corvo delivers his message, instants before assassins descend. They kill the Empress, take Emily, and leave the bodyguard framed for the murder.
Six months zip past and Corvo is awaiting execution. The ex-Spy Master has been made the new Lord Regent in the absence of Emily as heir. His involvement in the murder becomes clear, and he gloats over Corvo’s bound form. With the aid of a team of loyalists, Corvo escapes his cell and begins his battle to overthrow the conspirators, find young Emily and place her in her righteous place on the throne.
At its heart Dishonoured is a first person action stealth game. The base mechanics feature Corvo either fighting or sneaking his way through the detailed world, with a sword in one hand and a weapon or power in the other. The HUD and controls will be instantly familiar, but its open world design is less commonly seen. Similar to Deus Ex, but with a more constant level of aggression from the world’s inhabitants, Corvo is free to reach his objective through dozens of routes while discovering ever more things to do by eavesdropping on Dunwall’s inhabitants.
What makes Dishonored even harder to pigeonhole is how it changes depending on how you decide to play. If Corvo takes a softly softly approach, the game’s level ‘chaos’ remains low. The upshot of this is less danger in the world (and less killer rats), leaving the gameplay taking on a vibe similar to Thief or Tenchu. However, if Corvo takes a more murderous path in his revenge the gameplay also shifts, becoming more hostile with combat shifting to a Bioshock like system, with combos between sword and other powers offering a range of strategies to fight attackers and leverage the environment against them.
To help Corvo in his quest for justice he acquires a multitude of gadgets and powers. Among the loyalists’ number is Piero, a man who is to Corvo what Q is to Bond. This steam-powered inventor is able to upgrade any weapons acquired, and is also responsible for the iconic mask that graces all of Dishonored’s advertising. The mask proves more than just a way to conceal Corvo’s identity, offering improved vision in water, and even a zoom function once upgraded.
It isn’t all clockwork technology however; there is also The Outsider. This super natural being comes to Carvo in a dream after he escapes and gifts the bodyguard incredible abilities. First and foremost among these is ‘Blink’ a surprisingly user-friendly method of teleportation, that allows the bodyguard-come-assassin to rapidly travel short distances to avoid detection or instantly close the gap on a would be target. These combine with a number of other skills to aid Corvo as he stealths or outright murders his way to each mission objective.