• Do you remember last year when a mysterious site appeared in black with the name ‘Dishonored’ on it?  The press and build up to this game has been immense.  With good cause I might add, as this is a wonderfully expansive game.  The idea of freedom has been given a new name in gaming terms.  You can literally have complete control on how to approach missions.  The tutorials that pop up during play even suggest a few ways to approach certain missions and then you’re left to your brain and all the good/evil it comes up with.  The various weapons and powers you possess are just perfect, as you can be stealthy almost invisible, become a tank or anything in between.

    The setting for Dishonored is the city of Dunwall, sort of old time industrial England in the early 1900s.  You play as royal body guard Corvo Attano, who’s main responsibility is the protection of the Empress and her daughter Emily.  We join the game as Corvo returns from an errand sent by the Empress as the city is in the clutches of a deadly plague via rats.  You were sent to seek help from the neighboring towns only to return with sad news that Dunwall will be blocked away and all inside will be left to die.  So not great news to return with really.  This is where you meet Emily and are given the basics of the stealth system and movements.  Then your off to meet the Empress and give her the sad news.  She reacts and before you know what’s happened magical assassins teleport in to kill the Empress, kidnap Emily and leave you for dead.  Of course you crawl over to the dying corpse and when you wake up you are framed for the death and sent to be hung.  Fast forward some time and it’s the day of your hanging when suddenly with your last meal you find a letter, a key and a way out.  You escape and the story begins with you after the people that framed you and getting Emily back.  Fortunately you have allies with the same goals as you and off you go.  So the story is not revolutionary but the motivations for your revenge is clearly set out.

    The first aspect I want to mention is the graphics and art direction because this is a work of art.  Dishonored is almost like an oil or watercolor painting that you play in.  The detail is great but what jumps out is the use of color, light/dark and textures.  The dank, lowly, death ridden streets are perfectly captured.  Contrast this with the affluent mansions of the rich and you have a great mix of rich and poor.  The various locations you visit are all amazingly beautiful and crafted with so much care; it’s rare to play a game where you look around not only to find your next route but to actually just look around.  The characters themselves are richly made, some are clichés granted but most are lovable and actually draw you into the story wonderfully.  The voice acting is first class here as even the guards deliver their lines with such enthusiasm and realism you wait to listen to them.  Also you have to listen to them as the conversations give you lots of detail, a lot like Assassin’s Creed.  The base characters are driven by greed, loyalty, love, fear and ambition…basically like the diverse range of people we find on our planet.  This game accurately plays out the story with each character having an important role in the story.  The cogs all fit together here and create an immersive, expansive and engaging story.

    For me the best aspect is the gameplay.  Variety is the spice of life and this is the theme of this game.  Your right hand contains your trusty sword with which you dispense quick death and also has a carry system.  This is great for blocking attacks then unleashing hell on to your enemies.  Your left hand is basically your badass hand.  Not only do you have a gun but you have a cross bow with an assortment of darts and magical skills.  Very early on you are greeted by a magical being in a dream who gives you the ability to use runes to develop powers and abilities.  The first you get is the ability to blink to places, cross buildings or short distances at pace, a mini teleporting ability.  The abilities you have at your disposal are key for this game.  Dishonored encourages player to use stealth but it’s up to you how to play.  The stealth method rewards you with less rats and less people during the later missions as well as a different ending, whilst running and killing gives you a darker world and all your choices are rewarded with different actions during play.  This is called the Chaos system and you can decrease your Chaos rating by not killing people, or saving a character who is in need of help or basically using the non-lethal approach.  Much like Dues Ex, this game is about choice and consequence, you could choose to kill everyone, or sneak past or use the various wonderful powers to possess rats, fish and even people to gain access to places.  Slow time and run past people, or set traps such as the devilishly named spring razor.  You could use these in combinations as well; for example slow time, put a grenade down, close the door then watch from the keyhole as your trap kills the target.  Or use a gust of wind to throw them off the balcony, possess them to commit suicide and frame someone else for their murder.

    Literally whatever you can think of doing with the powers and gadgets, you are allowed to do in this game.  Bethesda and Arkane Studios have really given us a gem of a title as choice is king.  You will have to wait behind closed doors, using the Dark vision power to see through walls and see where the guards are and their cone of visions.  You wait, strike, hide the body and go again. This game really gets the heart going as it’s so satisfying to complete a mission differently then someone else.  It’s basically your very own game, but be sure to save frequently because if you die your back to the last save game.  Other great powers include the Devouring swarm ability that summons a pack of plague infested rats to munch on the target or Shadow kill that turns killed victims into ash.  There are also upgrades to your weapons and powers as well as other passive abilities that increase your health, ability to run and jump and decrease the damage you take from falls.  In addition to the runes which you collect to power up your abilities there are bone charms which you pick up that grant you ability and stat increases as well as bonuses.  You are given a heart with biotech inside it to search for these runes and charms which beats faster the closer you get.

    This is one of a few games where once you finish you will start again and again to see what happens if you approach a mission differently or use a different power.  During a play through you won’t max everything out and you really won’t want to.  It’s best to  focus on a few powers and see what play method is best for you.  Each player will be different and this game allows for these differences and it’s a joy to play this game.  You’re asked to actually play this game, think of your choices and watch as you execute them.  One of the best games of the year by a mile in my opinion, this is a must buy for anyone that plays video games.

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    The TotallyGN Verdict
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    • Rich gameplay and deep mechanics that beg to be played
    • Deep characters with a vast of knowledge and information to dispense
    • Stealth may not be the way some gamers want to play a game

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    Summary:

    A wonderfully rich game, perfectly realized and immensely fun to play. A real winner.

    [note class="alignright"]9[/note]
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    • Format: PS3
    • Developer: Arkane Studios
    • Publisher: Bethesda
    • Release Date: 10/9/12

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    About The Author

    A gamer that loves to play games and write about them. Just living the dream.