Dishonored sees players take on the role of a super-powered assassin at the centre of a conspiracy for the control of a kingdom in a steampunk universe
Dishonored is the sort of game that critics cry out for every year. As the Christmas retail rush begins and publishers start kicking out the latest sequels in their globe-conquering franchises, here is a brand new IP offering a dark and intriguing world for players to get lost in.
In Dishonored, players take on the role of one Corvo Attano, a bodyguard of the Empress of Dunwall, who, in the opening scenes sees his charge killed and then is unfairly blamed for her murder.
After been chucked in the clink, Corvo is sprung by a group of Dunwall’s social and military elite who don’t believe the acting Regent’s rather shady explanation of the Empress’s death. Armed with a batch of new lethal gadgets and an array of supernatural powers, Corvo sets out to erase some of Dunwall’s more corrupt elements and prove his own innocence.
It’s hard to write any review of Dishonored without mentioning its gorgeous visuals. The action in the game takes place in a warped, steampunk vision of Victorian London called Dunwall. Here, clockwork weaponry rubs shoulders with whale-oil-powered carriages and the Gothic, gas-lit streets run rabid with rat-driven plague.
The developers have gone to great lengths to make Dunwall feel like a living breathing city. Naturally, the player will spend a lot of time evading – or fighting – city militia, but Dunwall is also riddled with colourful characters, warring factions and poor souls struck by plague. The cityscape is also riddled with hidden paths and walkways.
Players don’t have to take the most direct route to their objective; thanks to the game’s mechanics, they’re able to sneak through Dunwall’s infrastructure using myriad back passages, vents – and even alternate forms.
And here is where Dishonored’s third trump card comes into play. Players have a ton of powers and weapons with which to navigate each of the game’s levels. Corvo dual-wields a switchblade with either a crossbow or flintlock, and as the game progresses, players are given an increasing list of ammo – ranging from high-calibre bullets, to sleeping darts to incendiary bolts.
Corvo also has a handy array of magical powers, that allow players to slow time, see through walls, teleport over short distances, possess other living creatures – even call in a swarm of rats to eat targets alive.
On top of all that, each level in Dishonored is open-ended and can be tackled any way the player desires. Every mission requires Corvo to get rid of at least one human target, but players are given absolute freedom in how this is accomplished.
Fancy hurtling through a level with guns blazing like your proverbial John McClaine? Go to it –just be aware that not only is this not the easiest way forward, it’ll actually make future levels harder.
If you want to tiptoe through a level, avoiding conflict and take your target like some lethal apparition, you can do that too. Heck, it’s even possible to finish the game having never taken any human life at all.
Dishonored has a couple of niggles; it’s strange there’s no easily accessible in-game map in the player-menus, and the auto-save means revisiting any earlier level wipes out saves in later levels. But in light of Dishonored’s strengths these weaknesses pale into insignificance. This is easily one of 2012’s best games, and if you’re serious about gaming, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy..
Dishonored release date: 12 October 2012
Dishonored price: £39.99