Article first published as Playstation 3 Review: Dishonored on Blogcritics.
At the 2012 E3 Expo, Bethesda split their media presentation between the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online and Dishonored. Oozing with an impressionist rendition of steampunk, the playthrough of Dishonored conjured memories of critical favorites, the original and upcoming Bioshock Infinite. Though the terrestrial setting is between the original Bioshock’s ocean depths and Infinite’s floating city, Dishonored’s Dunwall borrows much from the artistic rendition of both games. Easily one of the most interesting games shown at the E3 Expo this year in Los Angeles, Dishonored has finally been released.
Beyond the style and presentation though, Dishonored is completely dissimilar to the Bioshock games. The roots of developer Arkane’s game actually go further back. Before my conversion to the relative ease of console gaming, this writer played a lot of PC games. Dishonored is feels an awful lot like original Thief and Deus Ex games. This is not entirely surprising, considering co-creator, Harvey Smith lists the iconic Deus Ex on his resume and Dishonored was originally planned as somewhat of a reimagining of Thief.
Dishonored puts players in the role of Corvo, a royal protector and spy of sorts. As Corvo returns early from a mission he was sent abroad to complete, he returns to the plague stricken city of Dunwall to witness the coup that was planned to occur in his absence. Unable to thwart the attack, Corvo is put in a tragic position and ultimately becomes the scapegoat. This is the first instance from where the game draws its title. The rest of the game is Corvo’s attempt to right the wrongs even if the game does punish players somewhat for enacting revenge. More on that, a little later.
Corvo is a skilled spy, assassin, bodyguard or whatever you prefer to call him and has a number of physical abilities at his disposal. This only increases throughout the game, thanks to a little bit of supernatural help. The basic controls are typical for a first-person action game with the analog sticks controlling Corvo’s movement and vision. The X button allows Corvo to jump and the Circle button has him crouch and sneak. Square sheathes and unsheathes his melee weapon and Triangle leans or assassinates.
The R1 and R2 buttons let Corvo swordfight and the L1 and L2 buttons are for gadgets, missile weapons and supernatural powers. These can also be selected with the D-pad. Corvo has grenades, guns, traps and crossbows at his disposal and these can be augmented. As for supernatural abilities, the teleporting Blink is probably the most essential but Possession and the ability slow and stop time are also very useful. Though Corvo is a master assassin, it is easy to get overmatched when surrounded and the game encourages players to use stealthy means over the more violent. The only way to get the “good” ending is to keep the killing to minimum.
Unfortunately, Dishonored doesn’t make it easy to choose discretion over revenge. Starting with the sneaking, the enemy detection is inconsistent but, the bigger problem is getting the invisible cursor in the right spot. Getting the game to allow to ‘Blink’ to the place you want to go can be time consuming particularly when it’s a longer distance. Sneaking up behind enemies to either kill or knock them out can also be problematic. If you can’t get the option to pop up quickly, you run the risk of being discovered. The game does recommend saving often but, when there are a few enemies in a room saving after dealing with each one isn’t always practical.
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