Shhhh. Be vewy vewy quiet. I’m hunting guards.
The game has a central mechanic that makes it both unique compared to other stealth games, and a hell of a lot easier than most of them. It’s called “blink” and it’s a simple teleport spell that can instantly transport you to anywhere about 30 feet away. While Assassin’s Creed has you shuffling along rooftop ledges and perfectly timing your approach on unsuspecting enemies, Dishonored can be bothered with none of that. Guard way over there has his back turned? Blink up to him and stick a knife in his larynx. Secret bonus item at the top of a tall tower? Blink, blink, blink, you’re there. Part of the enjoyment of stealth games is figuring out how exactly to get around without being seen, but with blink, as fun as it may be, it does neuter some of the challenge pretty significantly. Between blink, shadow kill and infinite silent sprint, by the end of the game, there’s nothing that can stop or detect you.
The story of Dishonored is weak at best, but I guess that’s what you expect from a game where the official tagline is “Revenge solves everything.” There’s potential for a really good story here, but it’s only mediocre and a waste of a very talented voice cast that includes Chloe Moretz, Susan Sarandon, Lena Headey, Carrie Fisher and John Slattery. The game is rather short at only eight hours or so (and that’s with finding 80% of the bonus items and doing sidequests), but it thankfully does throw in a twist that creates two more solid bonus levels just when you think the game’s going to end, which would have made it absurdly short if it had. Still, it doesn’t quite feel worth a full $60 in the day an age of similar games that give you ten times that much playtime. This one-size-fits-all pricing model is what’s wrong with gaming, but the budgets are so big on games like these, there’s no way around it. The consequence, however, is that gamers are picking up used copies of games like this that they deem worth $30 or $40 instead of $60.
This game is from Bethesda, best known for Fallout and Skyrim, and they’ve improved a few things from those games. Combat is much, much more fluid, which would have killed a game revolving around assassins if it was subpar. Graphically, however, the game struggles. On Xbox the textures are noticeably muddy and Bethesda still can’t craft a convincing looking human being to save their lives. They don’t have that horrifying fixed stare anymore, but they still look more like marionettes than people. Even if the graphics aren’t great however, the art direction is spectacular, as they brought in the lead designer of the environments for Half-Life, and you’ll be able to tell that’s the case almost immediately.
Well gee, that looks familiar.
Dishonored is a very fun game, though not particularly challenging. Sure, you’ll save after every guard kill lest you round and set an alarm off, but generally, it’s the most relaxed stealth game in recent memory. That’s not necessary a bad thing, but it might be to those who spent $60 on an eight hour game, one of which was probably just staring at loading screens after every reload.
It just needs a bit…more. A bit more story, a bit more areas to explore, a bit more moves and items to make non-lethal not painfully boring. I was promised a more upbeat ending if I avoided murder, but the story was so thin I found I didn’t really care how it turned out and just wanted to have fun making rats eat people.
It’s not as strategic as Hitman or Assassin’s Creed nor as engaging as Deus Ex, but it’s a very fun bit of fluff with some pretty cool and creative mechanics and ideas. Pick it up used in a month or two, or rent it if you can.
3.5 out of 5 stars