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Dishonored Review

Dishonored Review

Save for Pierce Brosnan’s farcical depiction of a melancholic, middle-aged hit-man in The Matador, media routinely romanticizes the assassin. From Chow Yun-Fat’s debonair, yet doting, gun for hire in The Killer to the exploits of Agent 47, Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad, and Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the profession is steeped in the allure of glamorous gadgets, exotic locales, and precarious deception. Unsurprisingly, the recent release of Dishonored delivers the archetypical thrills typically associated with the occupation, as players take control of Corvo Attano, a former Royal Protector framed for the act of regicide.

Boldly, the game’s prologue emits only the slightest harbinger of hope. With the once thriving port town of Dunwall overcome by a devastating pandemic, the city’s Empress murdered and her sole heir abducted, we encounter the protagonist in jail, facing an imminent execution. Assistance arrives in the form of a key hidden amidst a serving of rations, permitting a perilous escape. Once liberated, Corvo is tasked with bringing Dunwall’s conspirators to justice as well as returning rule to the monarch’s daughter. Although Dishonored’s expositional elements are brief, the set-up is undeniably effective, allowing gamers to relish in the title’s retribution-driven momentum as they slowly usurp members of the provisional ruling party.

Dishonored Review

Essentially, Dishonored offers three methods for players to plot their reprisal. Going ‘ghost’ encourages players to remain unseen, obliging Corvo to skulk the shadows and prowl the alcoves of each vertically-oriented environment.  Although this play style accommodates players hoping to complete Dishonored without taking a single life, the lack of enemy engagement can make a pacifistic playthrough a bit tedious.

However, fighting foes directly has its disadvantages as well. Dishonored simplistic melee system hinges on a well-timed parry, allowing Corvo to sink his retractable blade into the pulp of an unfortunate foe. In execution, direct confrontation lacks nuance, and becoming markedly hectic when confronting a cluster of enemies. Fortunately, the game’s arsenal of offensive devices proves to be much more gratifying- conferring players with indulging tools like sticky grenades, spring razors, and crossbows capable of launching standard, tranquilizing or even incendiary bolts.

Dishonored Review

Yet, the title’s most engaging and useful capabilities are found in the protagonist’s ability to summon supernatural skills. Augmenting Corvo’s surreptitious aptitudes are ten, two-tiered powers, which distinguish Dishonored from its stealth-oriented peers. From allowing players to teleport short distances, taking possession of animals or people, seeing through walls, and stopping the flow of time, the title’s magical talents are astonishingly potent and bestow a plethora of possibilities to players. To engage a fortified antagonist, gamers may opt to possess a fish and infiltrate a drainage system or use their teleportation powers to slip past guards, if they aren’t interested in a direct confrontation.

When Dishonored offers these arrays of actions, the results are exceptionally engaging. Although the title’s structure delivers nine discrete missions, each stage is brimming with tactical choices, with instant save options and a level select screen allowing gamers to test the profundity of potential actions. Those who play prudently are likely to hear conversations which give insight to Dishonored’s less lethal outcomes. Cleverly, the reward for such perseverance is noteworthy, with scoundrels receiving particularly sadistic sentences. Perplexingly, there is a price for moral depravity, with the slaying spawning additional guards and rodent plagues. Additionally, the game articulates early on that the quality of the game’s conclusion is contingent on a player’s actions.

Dishonored Review

Which brings us to Dishonored’s greatest failing- its restrained narrative trajectory. Although the title certainly starts off strong, key plot points are either neglected to relegated to elucidation though text-based documents found throughout the city. While audiologues dot Dunwell, they occur in fewer numbers, which is unfortunate as the voiceovers don’t disrupt the flow of the game. Certainly the lack of foreshadowing before the game’s culmination is bound to irk players, as is the fleeting dénouement. Mechanically, the title’s stealth component is a bit troubling.  Not only is it a bit difficult to judge how well you are hidden, but the game’s AI fluctuates between savvy and stupid. Occasionally, enemies will notice you from afar, other times they won’t notice a remarkably conspicuous Corvo loitering in a lit corner. While some critics will have you believe that Dishonored’s storyline is woefully short, disregard these claims. With two different collectables which will help players augment Corvo, the game should last players at least ten hours. The potential for DLC (as divulged in the title screen) should extend that figure and the capacity for replay is robust.

Visually, the town of Dunwall is impressively detailed, providing the game with a distinctive diesel-punk environment and agreeably stylized character models. Although the use of the Unreal Engine allows for an impressive draw distance and conventionally stable framerate, a few hitches did occur- even after the recommended 5GB install on the Xbox 360. Sprinting ahead often proved too much for the game’s renders, causing a bit of cosmetic choppiness, while intermittent textures revealed a bit of unsightly artifacting. Celebrity voice work from luminaries such as Brad Dourif and Susan Sarandon is handled competently, with none of the awkwardness occasionally exhibited by crossover talent.

Dishonored Review

Dishonored is certainly one of 2012’s most rewarding interactive experiences. The range of options afforded to players can be exhilarating, with the title making good on the pledge of open-endedness assured by countless developers. However, the game also has some glaring drawbacks. Unlike many character development-driven titles, the game’s introductory chapters fails to provide enough enhancements, potentially turning off players. Similarly, the title’s conclusion feels rushed, with players ushered into a final cinematic without much of a hurdle. If developer Arkane Studios can continue to develop and expand those engrossing middle hours, it wouldn’t seem unlikely for yet another assassin to stalk the sales charts with a fan-devoted franchise.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

30 comments

  1. First!

    B+ bound to be controversy.

  2. Say it with me. WTF?

    Almost every other site gives Dishonored a A/10/100% GOTY and you guys give it a B+

    You suck at life.

    • Jesus Christ, B+ in the new D- or what?

      It’s a B+, three small steps from perfect.

      • Agreed B+ is a very good score. Considering the game has a few problems (like an new IP), that’s pretty promising to me. I’ll be picking it up.

        • To be excusing a game BECAUSE it’s a new IP is a weak argument. It’s competing against $60 games new, old, etc.

  3. I’ve been hearing a lot of comparisons to Bioshock and to a lesser extent Deus Ex, both games I really liked.

    So I bought this and I’ve bought about 2 and a half hours in. The verdict so far?

    I’m bored to tears. Not even interested in playing more. I know the goodie are coming later, but so far the game hasn’t grabbed me. I don’t know if it’s me or just the game.

  4. Yeah! Lets pick on every little flaw and not have fun. Grumpy, old reviewers FTW.

    (maybe your trying to get a job at polygon, if so practice your deep throating skillz)

  5. Trolls are a dishonor to the site, so ban ’em.

    I’m thinking that maybe you don’t like action stealth games as much as most people.

  6. Ending sucks? True, but better than ME3.

    Melee combat is too simple? True, but so was Skyrim.

    Stealth doesn’t work? Suck less, son! I didn’t have a problem with it.

  7. I wonder how the game is going to perform? It’s been getting rave review, but a lot of people don’t seem to know about it. Also, it’s about to get very crowded with games in the next three weeks.

  8. Good review if you ask me. Seems pretty honest and picks out some good points.

  9. +1 for mentioned CYF in a Dishonored review. haha

    What’s funny is the criticisms aren’t really different from what others have said. Stealth is a little weird, no kill is the ‘right way’ to play this, end is crappy. Difference is this review deducted more points. Which I right, I dunno right now, but I plan to play Dishonored this weekend.

  10. I’ll be getting this next week during Best Buy’s B2G1 free sale. B+ is fine by me.

  11. I guess it all hinges on what Deagle gives 007 Legends. If it’s higher than a B+, there could be outrage. Fighting in the streets.

    Ok, maybe just a few trolls, but still…

  12. Who was the other person all hyped up over this?

    I should have been one of those double reviews.

  13. Just curious how long is the end sequence.

  14. “the lack of enemy engagement can make a pacifistic playthrough a bit tedious”

    I disagree. The tension of not being seen is more intense that actually fighting enemies. Especially when you get close to finishing.

  15. Actually a really good review. I have to agree about the stealth and ending.

    Took me 8 hours to finish.

  16. Good review. I haven’t played Dishonored yet, but from what I heard the game has a few problems.I’m not sure how it’s getting perfect scores. maybe it’s good enough to see past the problems.

  17. Good review. I was really excited for this game since E3 but I’m still deciding whether to buy it or not. I might wait for a price drop. Yay for the mention of Ezio 🙂

  18. Every other Site is raving about the game. What’s wrong with you guys?