Dishonored Review: Revenge is Almost as Good as Freedom
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In terms of gameplay, it’s hard to criticize because Dishonored gives you all manner of power, while doing well to balance the challenges you face in the game and in its AI to make sure that you aren’t able to walk all over everyone with no resistance. It would have been nice for Arkane to break things up a bit, however, as every mission basically has you doing the same thing. My go-to comparison for the experience has been Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which delivers a lot of the same kind of experience. That game also includes things like its intense conversation battles and additional bits like hacking. Whether you like those things or not, they do stand to add a few other activities to the core formula of sneaking and/or killing, and Dishonored might have benefited from the occasional shift of focus as well.
I haven’t had a chance to compare the console version of Dishonored to its PC counterpart, but Arkane Studios has made sure to take care of the PC side pretty well. The game is optimized for PC, with plenty of additional options that console players don’t get — things like additional graphical adjustments, a field of view control, and the ability to alter the entire head’s up display information that appears on the screen. You won’t just be getting a straight port of a console title, in any case, which is much appreciated.
Possibly the best thing about Dishonored is that it provides the sort of deep and immersive world that makes Deus Ex and BioShock so engaging. There’s a huge amount of background information you can glean just by being observant as you move through the game, reading book excerpts and listening to people talk. A lot of the story of the game happens around you, rather than to you, and that always makes games like this feel like they live and breathe.
The game excels in creating interesting, rounded characters, for the most part — the conspirators, your allies, are a lot more than just protectors of the Empress’s lineage, and you’ll discover things about them that show their darkness as well as their light. I only wish there had been more of this.
Despite being enjoyable, the story lands a bit on the predictable side, and I really just wish there had been more. With such a vibrant world, it could have been cool for the story to stretch out beyond the machinations of aristocrats vying for power. I’d like to question The Outsider’s motives. I’d like to see Corvo’s drive for vengeance (if that’s even what he is hoping to achieve) challenged. I’d like to see someone point out the fact that the entire thrust of the game does little or nothing to affect the lives of the common and poor people of Dunwall, who go right on suffering until the ending.
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But all criticisms I have for the game are extremely minor (primarily my issue with Dishonored is that I want even more of it), and the groundwork is there. For as cool a world as Dunwall is, I’d love to see Arkane continue making games within it, and exploring some of the things its story hinted at but never quite addressed in the game. Dishonored as a single unit, however, is highly engaging and deep, providing a lot of creativity and freedom; I loved exploring it.
Dishonored’s creators have obviously put a lot of passion into the project, and the result is a great experience that offers new additions to some phenomenal classic formulas. The game feels like a conversation between player and creator, and those are often the best experiences in the medium.
- Lots of cool powers that allow you to do interesting things, especially when you pair them creatively
- Gives players a huge amount of power and freedom that makes exploring the game feel like your journey
- Difficulty balances well with your superpowers — enemies are capable fighters and their AI is pretty solid
- Sneaking is just as much fun as fighting
- Solid characters, good voice work, high production values
- PC optimizations and options are nice
- Story could potentially have been a bit deeper; it’s a bit predictable
- Final moments are anticlimactic
- Could have used a few more moments that changed up the infiltrate-assassinate-escape formula a bit
Final Score: 90/100