Gaming Review

Dishonored: Video Game Review

Here is the PKV review of the latest video game- Dishonored. You can read this review and decide for yourself if you are interested in this game or not. 

You are crouched behind a fountain in the steam room of a brothel’s basement. The aristocrat target that you’ve spent the last hour stalking is sitting in the sauna next door. Two guards already lay dead, floating in one of the nearby pools. How do you proceed?

Unlock the door with the key you pickpocketed earlier and meet your prey head-on? Summon a swarm of plague-infected rats to reduce him to a pile of bones? Break into the utility room and crank up the steam valve to extra-crispy?

Choices are paramount to Dishonored, where you step behind the silent mask of Corvo Attano, the former bodyguard to Dunwall’s Empress Jessamine Kaldwin. Corvo returns to Dunwall from a voyage to find a cure for the plague that is ravaging the city, only to be framed for the Empress’ murder upon arrival. Condemned to die, Corvo sets out to eliminate the conspirators behind the assassination and restore the rightful heir – Kaldwin’s daughter Emily – to the throne.

How you go about accomplishing this task is entirely up to you, and that freedom is Dishonored’s greatest strength. There is no right way to accomplish any mission, and there is a bevy of weapon upgrades and supernatural powers to experiment with to create the experience that you want to play.

In one mission, my goal was to infiltrate a heavily-guarded masquerade party. During my first playthrough, I stormed the front gates behind a barrage of incendiary crossbow bolts, sending partygoers fleeing and bringing half of Dunwall’s security force to arms in the process. The second time, I opted for a more subtle approach by possessing a fish and slipping through a sewer gate undetected, then freezing time to sneak by the maids in the kitchen undetected.

With choices come consequences though, and Dishonored presents those consequences in the form of a Chaos level. The more you murder, the higher the Chaos level, which means more guards in later levels and more Weepers (plague victims that behave like zombies) to contend with. It is possible to complete the game without murdering a single person, key targets included, but I found myself the happiest by using a hybrid of stealth and action to experience all of the tricks and tools that Corvo had at his disposal.

Such variety lends itself well to multiple playthroughs, which is good considering that Dishonored’s campaign clocks in at just 12-15 hours. There is a lot of meat on this game’s bones though, and you could easily spend additional hours tracking down every hidden safe, painting, rune, and bone shard scattered throughout the decaying city. Each area of the city is self-contained within a mission, so it’s not a truly open-world game, but there are enough details and branching pathways in each area to provide plenty of options to explore.

Dishonored markets itself as a stealth/ action game, but the stealth portion takes a bit of a backseat. Thief veterans will be disappointed to know that you cannot destroy lights or manipulate light sources, so your stealth options are usually limited to leaning around corners, waiting for guards to finish their predetermined patrols, then scurrying behind one of them and choking them unconscious. There is still a lot of satisfaction in taking out a target and disappearing without ever alerting a guard or facing combat, but the game gives you so many more interesting tools for death and destruction that it’s often more fun to cut loose and see what your toys can do.

The powers that Corvo unlocks by collecting runes are the real highlight of the gameplay, with the aforementioned bend/ stop time, possession, and summon abilities as just a few examples. The most essential of these powers is Blink, a jump/ teleport power that lets you reach higher ground and appear behind enemies. It’s extremely useful and fun to combine with quick assassinations, but it gets to the point where it can become overpowered, especially when you unlock its second tier. Most situations can be solved by blinking up and over patrolling guards and electric gates, taking away any necessity to find a more creative solution.

My one major gripe with the game is the lack of any emotional connection with the main character. Corvo is a silent protagonist, and I moved through the story without any real attachment to him as a person. There are some fantastic side characters – I expect Granny Rags will be everyone’s favorite – but in a setting rife with gloom and struggle, Corvo never gives you much of an opportunity to empathize with him or understand him as a human being.

In all, Dishonored is the game you make it be, and is good enough that you will want to dive right back in after the credits roll to find a different way to beat each mission. Stealth enthusiasts hoping for the next Thief will be disappointed, but the rest of us will enjoy the varied gameplay and wealth of creative opportunities to accomplish our goals. As we gear up for the holiday time crunch, Dishonored is one new IP that is worth setting a few hours aside to enjoy.