Why It’s Okay If You Dislike Dishonored

The first wave of reviews for Dishonored praised the game pretty much universally. I was right there with the bulk of the gaming journalism community — I love Dishonored, I had great fun playing it, and I’ve played it again since writing the review. It’s been on my mind a lot since it released.

But I realize that while I might be in the majority, there are a lot of people who don’t like the game. A second wave of reviews tended to be more critical, with more players and critics taking issue with Dishonored. Some, maybe most, of those reviews were met with lots of rough handling from commenters and players.

Here’s a news flash, however: It’s okay to dislike Dishonored. It doesn’t make you an idiot or crazy or ignorant of the history of video games. It just means that some of the game’s key elements — the bets upon which the developers placed all their chips — failed to resonate with you.

Your viewpoint of not liking Dishonored is entirely valid, and talking about the game’s flaws, and all games’ flaws, is a worthy discussion.

Here’s my theory about Dishonored: it’s all about the world. That’s clearly where the developers put the lion’s share of their storybuilding effort, and something they’ve said repeatedly was very important to them. Arkane Studios opted to tell a fairly simple revenge story, but to make the world of Dunwall as immersive as possible. And it is immersive, beautiful, awful, deep, strange, and filled with its own history. There’s a huge amount to discover about Dunwall.

The best story moments of Dishonored take place without Corvo’s interaction. Reading books, finding journals, and (more than anything) overhearing conversations are the things that give Dunwall the kind of breadth that makes it feel real. I loved this about Dishonored, and I spent a lot of time reading books and listening to conversations and just watching.

Dishonored’s world grabbed me, brought me in, kept me interested. No, I wasn’t all that enthralled with the revenge elements of the story — after all, what did I really care about the Empress, or my supposed torture at the opening of the game? Those things happened to Corvo, not to me.

The developers put their efforts into building the world, but if the world doesn’t interest you … what then? There seem to be plenty of people who aren’t all that smitten with Dishonored. These people tend to find the game a lot shorter because they don’t care about exploring it as much, or reading so many books, or listening to so many conversations.

These people aren’t wrong about the flaws they perceive in Dishonored, about how they’re too powerful as they hack through all the enemies with a series of crazy powers that render most battles fairly meaningless, or how they have no real reason to do all the murdering they eventually do. For them, the thing that the developers hoped would draw them in — the world — isn’t doing the drawing. And so they’re not nearly as interested in Dishonored, they finish it faster, and they don’t get what all the fuss is about.

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11 Comments on Why It’s Okay If You Dislike Dishonored

bfskinner

On October 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm

nice op-ed type article. I think we pissed the haters off the most (me included) was that the first wave of fellating reviews did not mention the flaws. The three biggest being the dreadful game balance which made the actual playing of the game as much fun as pitting yourself against a worm on a sidewalk, the length of the game, and the cost. As a full priced $60 game, it is objectively overpriced.

Phil Hornshaw

On October 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm

@bfskinner

There are definitely a lot of people in your camp. Here’s what’s interesting about it: I had the exact opposite experience from you. I often got my ass kicked by guards and found the game to be plenty long for the cost (put in 16 hours in my first run). A lot of reviewers, I think, had the same experience. It really is intriguing how different the experience seems to be based on play style.

Luther

On October 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I have yet to play this game but for me if a game costs 60 dollars then it needs at least 60 hours of gameplay ( 1 hour for 1 dollar), So if people are finishing the game in 16 hours and not picking it back up then I suppose I better wait for it to go on sale.

Air Jimma

On October 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm

It’s unfortunate that it’s gotten to the point of writing articles justifying negative reviews. Shouldn’t the negative reviews justify themselves?

Phil Hornshaw

On October 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm

@Air Jimma

One might think, but from the comments I’ve seen…felt like it needed saying, especially in this case.

folklore

On October 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Nice article. Was a really good read. Dishonored is a gamer for a certain kind of gamer. Those it plays to will like it. Those who don’t well, they don’t like it. That’s their right.

Danny

On October 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I know I will be in the minority here but I like Dishonored but I am so sick of the highly “stylized” worlds that look like a goofy cartoon.

lol

On October 23, 2012 at 12:08 am

I don’t get how people are still angry about the ME3 ending, complaining about recycled content in Doom 3, but are still praising Skyshock, I mean Biorim, I mean Bioshock Infinite… I mean this game;

http://assets1.ignimgs.com/2012/10/22/3gif-0814fb.gif

Dishonored.

Kyle

On October 25, 2012 at 9:51 am

I wasn’t happy with it because of the wonky stealth mechanic. I bought the game to try to play a completely stealth playthrough. Often I found that I would randomly spotted by guards, reload the save, commit the same action and viola not spotting by the guards. Also I really hated how if you alerted one guard it alerts every guard in the area.

Ebalosus

On October 30, 2012 at 3:34 am

I personally loved dishonored, but in saying that, a lot of the criticisms of the game mentioned by gamers and reviewers/critics are quite valid. The shortcomings (pun not intented) of the game aren’t a deal-breaker for me, just like the shortcomings of Mass Effect 2 weren’t a deal-breaker either.

That said, one thing I am sick, SICK of hearing from primarily american gamers is sumed up in the title of these steam discussions of the game:

“Is this game worth the $60?”

or

“Not worth the money”

I’m having to hold myself back from belittling those whom brought up those topics, because it really aggravates me. Why? Because I live in New Zealand, and as such, for digital distribution, the publishers have a habit of overcharging us. On average, we are charged at least 20% more for the exact same product.

So yes, if you disliked the game: fair enough, I have nothing against you or your choices, I mean that sincerely. But please don’t complain about the price of a game around either us or australians, because we have to put up with paying a lot more than you lot do, even though technically, we aren’t as rich as your country.

Red Menace

On November 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm

NO, IT ISN’T OKAY.

But, I don’t $59.99 game money.