Dishonored was certainly enjoyable, but I only rented it so overall I was trying to get about $7 worth of enjoyment out of it. Not a high bar.
I wasn’t able to beat it, I only had a weekend and I actually used a pretty good bit of that time for writing. I want to rent it again and go ahead and polish off the last few missions. Overall, I did feel like I got a pretty good impression.
First, the game play is solid and enjoyable, but not nearly as imaginative as I had originally thought. Okay, that’s not true, in the actual levels and what you’re doing, it’s well done. It’s the spells and your equipment. They have six powers, which are good, but they have some pretty specific uses and the levels are built that way. You hit moments where you’re like, oh this is a possession moment, oh this is a rat swarm moment. More often than not, each situation can be approached with whatever you want.
They make a big deal about being able to solve things in a dozen different ways, and that’s true, it’s just that every situations seems pretty easily resolved because there are so many options. You could never be seen and just sneak through the world, or you could use this vast arsenal or arcane and martial skills to obliterate everything in front of you. I wanted to go in through stealth, and could pretty much, but any time I needed to be in combat I was effectively invincible. The sword play in the game is terrible, but I didn’t invest in the fatalities. It seemed clumsy to me, but it might have been better if I had. It just didn’t seem to matter. If I ever got into a hairy situation, between the pistol, crossbow (with both normal and explosive arrows) the ability to literally, blow everyone away, stop time, or feed them to a swarm of rats, nothing ever felt that dangerous. Half the time I could eliminate one guard because he never knew I was there, pause time, kill everyone else, and be gone before anyone knew anything had happened. If that failed, or I was caught by surprise, wind blast evens out everything.
To me, the spells have the issue of there being either too few, or too many. There were not enough to really make me have to pick in between them, but so many that there was no one situation that I was overpowered. If you’re going to play either pure stealth or pure combat, you only need two or three of the spells and you’ll be fine. As it was, I had all of them and still had spell points (runes) left over.
That sounds like a complaint, and it is sort of, but it’s also really, really fun. They do a really good job of making you feel deadly. To the point that it seems ludicrous that any of my betrayers would have ever thought to leave me alive.
The story is what disappointed me more. The world is really, really interesting but we don’t ever really get to do anything with it. The Outsider, who plays out as a cross between ancient paganism the Devil Himself, is just an excuse for your character to have magic. He gives some nifty speeches every now and then, but overall his presence is just to satisfy game play. The amazing trailer where he give you your power isn’t even canon, he does it through a stupid dream that serves as a tutorial for your teleportation spell.
There is a lot of talk about storytelling in video games and how as long as story elements serve the mechanics of the game, it will never be able to reach its true potential. Overall, I don’t agree with that, but this is one case I feel that it happened. What really gets me is that they didn’t have to do it this way. They put this in there for the lowest common denominator player who needed to have their hand held. In a game that acts as such a playground, and where they had actually done a pretty good job of making the spells intuitive, there was no reason to relegate a deity’s blessing to a tutorial.
On the other hand, there is an item that is only there for gameplay that I think is pretty cool and plays into the story really well. I have some suspicions as well as to who it came from…
I would have liked to have seen more lore about the world as a whole. The whale oil that powers everything is just an excuse to give things a bit of a steampunk angle and for some really, really annoying puzzles. Because of the guns and magic and world, it feels a lot like Bioshock, but I never get that sense that they really wanted to explore the world, that it was a character. There are a lot of lore books around, but they just slowed down the gameplay. I would have preferred everything to be read aloud so I could be doing what I needed to while listening to some exposition about the world.
Lastly, the plot is typical, but well done. I never got invested in Corvo as a character, mainly because of the whole silent protagonist thing, but the other characters are well done and at the point I got to, I was pretty invested. There is a plot twist that, if you’ve ever read a book, will see a mile away, but even then, it got a reaction from me. Like I said, I have’t been to the end so for my to judge the plot wouldn’t be fair.
Overall, this is one of those I would buy when it hit a certain price and not before. It was a fantastic rental and I would be very interested to see some more in the series. It’s had enough publicity to sell well, and Bethesda is involved, so I’m sure we’ll see more, I just think there was some unrealized potential here.