My Trouble With Dishonoured

The first of the autumn big hitters launches today in the US, and hits shops on Friday in the UK and Europe. I am of course talking about Dishonoured. This is Bethesda’s steampunk, stealth-em-up, FPS mash up. Words like ‘game of the year’ are being bandied about and it’s long been on my list of games to watch. However, I took a look at the launch trailer and something hit me; I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not going to like it.

Okay, first the good.

This game appeals to me because it’s got that HG Wells look that games have inexplicably failed to exploit thus far. I love that it’s set in a foggy, dark, sleazy pseudo-Victorian city, based on London and Edinburgh. Add weird machinery and splice it with a bit of magic and you’ve got something I’m interested in. I’m also loving the sneaking over moonlit rooftops thing. We all know I’m an Assassin’s Creed fan, so this aspect of the gameplay speaks to my inner assassin. Added to all this, the game seems to be focusing on character and story, so it should be all good. Right?

Well, I’ve been trying to decide whether I want to play it or just hold out for AC at the end of October. The thing is that the setting is just too much for me to resist, but I’m really wishing it wasn’t an FPS.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good gun-toting FPS. Halo 4 is my most anticipated of autumn 2012, so I have nothing against the FPS per se. For me Halo worked because you are a big guy in a hulking suit, so you’re going to feel slightly disembodied. You wake up as Master Chief and it’s kind of like being Robocop. Your HUD flickers into life and your view of the world is through your helmet visor. However, I think Dishonored may suffer from Bioshock syndrome. This is a syndrome I invented, so bear with me.

Bioshock is one of those games that the world just fell in love with, but I didn’t. And it’s all about the hands. I just can’t get on with an FPS that has those big character hands growing out of the side of the screen. For most of Bioshock I was holding a massive wrench, which just floated about in front of the screen and pulled me out of the illusion. Unlike Halo, Bioshock is more hands on. You’re pulling levers and there are gramophone records playing. This is olde worlde stuff ‘ no mech suit and kick-ass gun. And because of the setting, I feel I need the refinement of third-person, rather than the clumsy FPS perspective. And it’s the same with Dishonored.

I prefer a third-person view, but I know that’s not always possible or the best decision for the game and that’s fine. But I like to see the character I’m playing, so I can inhabit them. The FPS is supposed to feel more immersive, but it does exactly the opposite for me. Real life doesn’t do that weird, floaty head-cam thing that you get with an FPS. I’d much rather live with cinematic camera angles and lose the big, disembodied hands.

Give me a character that’s cool and I want to be and then let me just follow them around, helping them do awesome stuff. Don’t try to convince me that I am the owner of the weird hands poking out of the bottom of the screen because the screen is about six feet away and I’m not wearing VR goggles.

I’ve decided that I am going to buy Dishonored, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to get past the viewpoint issues because it looks gorgeous and you’ve got to love that it’s a new IP, which is a rare thing indeed these days. Fingers crossed this isn’t one of those games (Skyrim I summon thee) that I try and fail to love, while the rest of the world swoons in its glory.

Tune in same bat place, same bat time to find out.

Share this GiN Article on your favorite social media network: