Chella Gets Her Sneak On With Dishonored

Last time we met, I was pondering the pros and cons of buying Dishonored. I was intrigued by the setting, but put off by the FPS perspective. You’ll be eager to hear that I did buy Dishonored and I have to say, I’m really enjoying it. Despite my original misgivings, Dishonored gets more things right than most games and it gets extra points for being a new IP.

Reasons to like Dishonored

First, it’s not as dark as I expected it to be. This is a good thing. Okay, so we’ve just heard that the UK is no longer in recession, but things are still pretty grim out there, in the real world. So the last thing I need is to plunge into a fantasy world of doom and gritty misery, as a way of unwinding from the perpetual turmoil of the human condition.

Sure Dishonored is set in a rat-infested city that’s been decimated by a mysterious plague. Okay, so the Empress has just been assassinated and I’ve been blamed for her death, forcing me into hiding as a fugitive. The people in power are corrupt and the general populous seems to live in a state of constant fear of death, either at the hands of their leaders or just due to a nasty bout of plague. So if you stop and think about it for too long, it’s all pretty grim. But I’m still not getting that Fallout 3 couldn’t-pile-on-any-extra-doom-if-we-tried feeling. It could be the semi-industrial, Victorian setting or just my frame of mind, but so far, so happy.

Second, this game is hard. This is no walk in the park and follow the golden breadcrumbs game. This is a game that requires some thought. You’ve got a mission. You’ve got a treasure trove of tools at your disposal and even more ways to solve a quest. Do you possess a rat and sneak in via the sewers or perhaps scale the rooftops, using your magical teleport power? Do you use gadgets to disable security systems or distract guards and pick them off one by one? The options are almost endless and no two missions will feel alike because you can just change your tactics, depending on the circumstances.

I personally try to employ the sneak strategy. I say, try. It all goes swimmingly, until a guard spots me and I panic and kill him. Then all his friends pile in and before I know it, I’ve got a heap of bodies at my feet. Oops.

Ordinarily, piles of dead bodies wouldn’t be a bad thing, but this city’s got a plague-infested rat issue. More bodies, equals more munchables for rats, which means more plague and, yes, you guessed it – more doom. In addition, more kills equates to a higher ‘chaos’ rating. Those with a low chaos rating getting a happier ending, whilst the ham-fisted slaughter queens like me, get the grim, depressing ending.

Yes, it’s the old ‘good’ ending vs ‘bad’ ending dilemma, once again. After the Mass Effect debacle, I’m not sure I can be arsed. I could creep around, restarting missions every time I accidentally stab a guard in the throat (much easier than it sounds), only to be greeted with a not-that-different-from-the-bad-ending-ending. And that would be galling. So I’m probably just going to play the game I want to play and screw the ‘good’ ending.

Reasons not to like Dishonored

What the hell is up with mute protagonists? Who thought that was a good idea and why do they keep doing it? I just don’t understand why the Dishonored team did all this world building and then couldn’t be bothered to give our main character a voice. People look at me and slap me on the back for the success of my latest mission and I just stand there, unblinking and unmoving (because I can’t move during dialogue scenes).

It’s like Skyrim all over again, except without the feeling like I’m watching open world paint dry. All the Dishonored NPCs seem quite happy to chortle on to Corvo, the silent assassin, brandishing a bloodied sword and don’t mind at all when I say nothing. It just doesn’t make sense. Developers – sort it out.

But apart from the pointless the good, the bad and the ugly ending dilemma and the silent protagonist, there’s not much not to like about Dishonored. The setting is as cool as it looks, but don’t expect to be off hopping across rooftops in a sandbox gaming extravaganza because this isn’t that game. If that’s what you’re looking for, then Dishonored will disappoint because the mission maps are fairly small, but what it lacks in scale, it makes up for in style and just good execution.

I’ll tell you all you need to know about Dishonored in three words: Buy, Play, Enjoy.

Most played: Dishonored

Most wanted: Halo 4

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