Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hunting Game(s): Dishonored Review

First, stop by my post last week which, among other things, contains my initial reaction to Dishonored. Read on if you want to see a slightly more in detail review!

I say slightly because I have yet to finish the game. This is due to being busy and the setup of the levels -- each mission can be quite lengthy (especially if you're trying to be at all stealthy), so I do either a mission or half a mission in one sitting.

WARNING! For you achievement hunters, I STRONGLY suggest you check out the achievement list and plan how you want to play from the get go! It will take at least two complete play-throughs to 100% the game, and it uses a strange system for keeping track of your stats. If you plan on going through the game without killing anyone  or alerting anyone, you MUST do so from the get go -- if fail to do one of them on level 2 and figure you'll just do it after you finish the game, it doesn't work like that, you'd have to play level 2 over AND the rest of the game in the same manner to unlock the achievements.

Sometimes it's just more fun to use the pistol...
I'm personally playing stealthily with a goal to keep a "low chaos" ending, which is the "less dark" for the endings provided. This means that I try to kill as few people as possible, though I'm not afraid to cut folks who stumble upon me. Also, I'm killing all the assassination targets by indirect means. Also, I'm getting all the collectibles referenced in achievements, though they are honestly easy to come by just by being thorough.

It makes for a fun play-through, but I think I'd almost rather blast through the game and just deal with the "high chaos" difficulty spikes.

The story... is nothing special, and I say this because it lacks a coherent logic:

You (Corvo) are framed for killing the Empress and kidnapping her daughter. Then you are imprisoned. A group of "loyalists" free you so you can save the daughter and kill off the usurpers. On a completely unrelated note, a mystical being of some sort, known as The Outsider, gives you magical powers. Basically, he wants to see what you'll do with them on your missions. Back to the Loyalists, they send you on a bunch of missions to kill or capture VERY high profile enemies. But don't worry, they give you a mask and a cool sword with which to do it.

My problem is that, without the Outsider (and, unless there's an upcoming plot twist, the Loyalists know nothing about him), there is no reason Corvo should be able to complete ANY of these missions or, at the very least, not any better than the next guy. And the next guy wouldn't require an elaborate prison rescue, either.

I'm assuming there will be a plot twist where the Loyalists stab you in the back, it tends to go with this kind of thing, but there really is no reason to choose Corvo for the job -- we don't see ANY of his past actions that might qualify him, and, to be honest, most of these missions would be especially difficult without powers -- conceptually impossible, I'd argue, though maybe I'm wrong.

Ignoring that (not that I personally can), the characters are interesting enough. And you have an item (a heart...) that you can use to learn secrets about them. The story is well crafted around all of them, though the art style does sometimes make it difficult to remember who is who...

What did I tell you? Creepy.
Note: about the art style -- it's bleak. There are bleak images, locales, and the overall design is dingy and dark. I enjoy it, actually, but can see people not enjoying the almost lifeless design of some of the areas and the lack of any real bright spots (there is a party, but it's more creepy than anything).

On to the good stuff, however: the powers!

The main powers are:
Dark Vision - allows you to see through walls and see where characters' line of sight is. This ability is needed, in my opinion, and should be on pretty much all the time... Except it makes everything an annoying shade of yellow.

Blink - a short range teleport. Another one to get an upgrade ASAP, though it can make the game FAR too easy. I kind of wish it was more limited (my high chaos play-through will skip it altogether)

Possession - first you can possess larger animals (dogs), then you can possess humans for a short time. Seems awesome and useful, but I've yet to upgrade it.

Bend Time - useless until the upgrade, which is VERY expensive. I did upgrade it and it is another over-powered ability. I can literally stop time (for a short span of time). No one can see me when I do this, so it allows me to run through heavily populated areas. My favorite use for it, however, is to line up shots with my sleep darts on multiple guards that refuse to split up and be taken down with a choke hold.

Yeah, I'm NOT doing that...
Devouring Swarm - I really don't get this one. You can summon rats to kill people. Which I could do with a gun, a crossbow, grenades, a sword, etc... without costing me precious runes. I assume that enemies devoured by rats can't be discovered, but there's a passive skill that automatically makes this happen, without costing mana... Needless to say, I haven't taken it -- it would be especially useless for my stealthier character.

Windblast - this is Dishonored's version of Force Push. I don't have it on this character (not really stealthy if I'm blasting everyone away), but I REALLY look forward to this ability next time.

There are an equal amount of passive abilities you can spend runes on... But I have found no reason to do so.

The powers make the game that much more fun, but they are more tools than weapons (for the most part), which is where comparisons to Bioshock fall through. I'd still suggest this game is closer to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, though I'm enjoying Dishonored more. I'd give the game an 8/10, though I must repeat I have yet to beat the game. I'll edit this post when I do with a revised rating (and any addendum that seems pertinent . For now, even with my lack of completion, I'd say the game is worth picking up. If that's rental vs buying, that's up to you, but I honestly think this could be finished successfully with a rent.

For next week, I will be writing about... wait for it... Baldur's Gate! I've dusted off the old discs in an attempt to FINALLY install and play the damn game. As soon as I pick up the expansion "Throne of Bhaal," I'll be able to play all the way from the beginning of the first to the end of the second (and expansions) in one game, which I'm really looking forward to. I'll post some thoughts on the game, the mods I'm using, and if I think it actually scratches the itch I'm having for some tabletop gaming...

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