The twist towards the end is what makes it phenomenal and a game to remember.
With the release of Dishonored 2 I decided to delve back into a game I’ve never played before, the original Dishonored. Since I never played the game I never reviewed it, and I have to say that I’m gutted I didn’t. Needless to say I adore the game, but let’s go into the details of this masterpiece, and why it hooked me.
The story of Dishonored sees protagonist Corvo framed for the murder of the Empress of Dunwall. After being given powers by a spooky Void-dweller known as the traveller, Corvo sets about killing all the high-ranking leaders of Dunwall who worked against him in order to remove the new High Lord Regent, and put the empress’ daughter Emily on the throne. The story expands if you explore and talk to NPCs, and can change a lot if you choose not to complete optional objectives, but the twist towards the end is what makes it phenomenal and a game to remember.
Dishonored starts with a punch to the face and ends with one too, both leave you reeling in very different, but effective, ways. It’s these gut shots that keep you intrigued with what challenges the next level may present, and make you thirst for the downfall of your next target.
Each mission sees you sent to a self-contained sandbox area packed with possibilities. The world is literally yours to play with as you wish, using your powers and various weapons to either kill, or incapacitate, the patrolling guards, locals, and your ultimate goal, the mission target. For reasons I shan’t reveal due to spoilers, the ruler of Dunwall is murdered, and Corvo, the protagonist, is framed. Now Corvo needs to work with the resistance to take down those who worked against the leader and framed him, which is why he’s skulking around Dunwall attacking so many people.
You begin each mission with a single goal, your target. Sometimes you’re given side missions from NPCs in the world, and while these encourage you to explore each area of the city even more, they’re a definite second to the main target, who you can either kill or uncover a way to remove them without the murder. While you may be thinking the non-lethal assassination simply involves some way of stunning the target, you’d be very wrong. Each target has a story-related way of being removed from their position, and while you might start the game with every intention of murdering them all, I guarantee by the end of it you’ll have been too curious about the additional story to miss one of these non-lethal takedowns.
How exactly are you taking out the guards and deviants of Dunwall? Well this happy chap from somewhere called the Void visits Corvo and endows him with supernatural powers! The best-known of these powers is Blink, the ability to get from your current location to another position in front of you without being seen by ‘blinking’ using Void powers. This is the only power forced upon you, but there’s a host of others that allow you to possess rats and enemies, push them away, summon a swarm of rats to eat enemies, and even pause time! You unlock more abilities and improve them by collecting Runes throughout the world, and Bone Charms give you additional passive abilities, such as recovering mana from eating white rats. As you can imagine, you can combine the Bone Charms and powers to create a very specific Corvo, one built to your play style. I used the Bone Charm for eating white rats, couples with increased mana from rats, improved with encountering more white rats, and finally completed by upgrading my Rat Swarm power to maximum.
However, just because a lot of these powers have the ability to hurt enemies, doesn’t mean that’s what you have to use them for. As you progress through the game you could kill everyone in sight, but that would result in more infected people walking the streets, Weepers as they’re known, and larger swarms of rats for you to move around. If you play causing as little chaos as possible, the game is much easier, and you can get more out of it. For example, you can summon a swarm of rats, and possess one of them in order to move through the vents in each level to pass by guards undetected. Sometimes thinking of new ways for your powers to help you is the only way to progress. I found myself using Slow Time to fall and Blink past an electrical pylon defence in order to rewire it for my own use, and that’s just one example.
Aside from Void powers there are also weapons to pick up and play with, including grenades and a lethal or non-lethal Crossbow. You can pick up new Blueprints in each mission to bring back to your base of operations and have created, giving you more options for creative deaths or sneaking, such as quieter boots or sticky grenades. These add even more options for you to create your own play style, and really give you a feeling that you’re carving a completely unique path through this world, the story, and creating your very own version of Corvo as you do so.
I could go on for thousands more words, but I’ll end with this. Each level has been so well-built that you’ll play Dishonored a number of times before you start to feel familiar with it all. The world that’s been created here is an entirely unique playground that is a joy to stealth or murder your way through, however you want to play. It’s a real credit to the developers that this is one of the best games I’ve played in 2016, and it was released in 2012. If you’re looking for a game that reminds you of Metal Gear Solid, Time Splitters 2, but gives you that feeling you get when playing Fallout 3, this has you covered.
Image Source: GameHackStudios