Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform: PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release Date: 12th October 2012
Note: Review contains minor spoilers about the game’s plot.
Dunwall weeps at the death of the Empress and the city has fallen to the tyranny of her murderers. You are Corvo Attano, the Royal Protector. Accused of murdering the Empress and abducting her daughter Emily you are tasked with eliminating those responsible, finding Emily and clearing your name.
Dishonored is set in the city of Dunwall, a whale oil powered island city that has fallen to tyranny after the death of the Empress. The city streets are patrolled by soldiers of the watch, the gutters and alleys are littered with rats bearing a plague and the plagues victims known as weepers.
As a master assassin you will be armed with masterly crafted equipment and weapons from one of the city’s foremost natural philosophers and magical abilities granted to you by The Outsider, the black-eyed bogeyman that haunts the dreams of those that are open to his influence and granting power to those he finds worthy. The player can upgrade their weapons and equipment with coin and magical powers can be upgraded with runes and bone charms.
The game employs a consequence system that tracks the player’s ‘chaos’ level. Chaos can increase or decrease depending on your actions, murder and being detected will raise it whereas a more subtle approach will keep it low. Actions from side missions can also influence chaos. Depending on the way you want to play you may come to the conclusion that not getting involved may be the best course of action.
When chaos reaches high levels you will find more guards on patrol, they will be armed with better gear and weapons. The presence of counter magic overseers will increase making it more difficult to achieve your goal using magical abilities. With higher chaos levels comes more rats and weepers too making infiltration more difficult due to the near instant death delivered by swarms of rats.
Each mission has multiple ways to resolve your primary objective of eliminating your target. There is a unique non-lethal method for each target as well as some unique lethal methods such as poisoning, a duel to the death or sabotaging machinery. You can of course eliminate your targets by any other means you wish, a favourite of mine is to throw them from a roof into the sea or disintegrating them with a rewired Arc Pylon.
If you choose to enter combat directly you will be able to use your deadly arsenal of weapons and magic to get the upper hand against crowds of enemies. One of my favourite ways to take down a large group of enemies is to freeze or slow time, draw my pistol and fire a shot that will penetrate each enemy hit so that it hits as many as possible. Another favourite is to rewire a wall of light and use magic to throw a large group of enemies into it, disintegrating them into piles of ash. If you find yourself in a sword fight against a single opponent you can parry and block incoming sword attacks and if your sword locks with your opponents then are given a chance to knock your opponent back if you win a button mashing duel.
Stealth is however the most efficient way to complete your objectives. The game offers many ways to sneak around the city including ledges, tunnels and rooftops. If you upgrade your blink and agility abilities you can make longer jumps possible which makes navigating around the map easier. Choosing to use these abilities to navigate the map whilst sneaking will make your path to some targets more direct, assuming of course that you don’t get caught.
When sneaking you can knock out guards to eliminate their patrol so you can move more freely. You can knock them out using your limited number of sleep darts or by sneaking behind them and choking them out. You can also use blink to teleport directly behind them and knock them out, grab their unconscious body and teleport away quickly to avoid detection from other guards. Of course it is entirely possible to sneak through each mission without knocking out or killing guards although it can be more difficult in the early game.
The game also offers the use of objects in the environment during combat or stealth. Whiskey bottles explode if shot or thrown and empty bottles and drinking glasses can be thrown during stealth to distract guards.
Dishonored is a fantastic stealth game and offers an awful lot of versatility and a lot of potential for several playthroughs. The game has been out for a few years now and as such runs very well on modern hardware and has a lot of guides and walkthrough available too. The game can also be acquired for a small sum on the various digital storefronts.