Top positive review
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Unique world with great stealth touches and combat refinement
on 29 December 2013
Dishonored is an excellent stealth game with a steampunk style, a story of political intrigue, great gameplay mechanics and clear influences from other games that it builds upon. It presents its world in a unique visual style that brings its characters and locations to life.
You play the role of Corvo, the Empress's bodyguard. After her assassination you are framed for her murder and must escape prison, seek allies and start the fight back against the plotters who have seized power.
The first-person sneaking and exploration has some similarities to the Thief series, while the range of weapons, tactics and found items feels somewhat like Bioshock. However, Dishonored always has new ideas to explore.
You come across runes that can level up your powers, allowing you to teleport, possess enemies or have them devoured by a swarm of rats. You also pick up bone charms that provide useful enhancements. Because of your powers of stealth and attack, combined with areas that have multiple routes, there are many ways to approach a mission. Combat is good and feels physical, such as blocking sword blows or attacking someone with a knife. Because a lot of your attacks are close range and through the character's eyes, taking out a target can be quite brutal. The game doesn't shy away from showing the bloody effects.
At the same time the story deals with themes of revenge, political manoeuvrings, inequality and revolution as you explore the decaying sprawl of the city of Dunwall.
Dishonored has a wonderful and unique art style influenced by Viktor Antonov who designed City 17 in Half-Life 2. It's a mix of imposing futurist architecture and 19th-century Britain, an industrial powerhouse running on whale oil and huge machines.
The effect is a bit like a 3D oil painting with soft strokes of varied colour as well as detailed shadows and bright areas highlighted. The artists have done a great job creating detailed environments such as the ragged coastline, confined streets, a palace, dark fortress, a huge bridge, the slums, prison and sewers.
The sound design is well crafted with effects for your assassinations, the noises of guards moving about their patrols and the general hum of city life. Characters are brought to life with well-done voice acting and conversations that never become dull.
There are only a few negative points to the experience. Sometimes enemy perception is a little too keen, so you can be spotted even when you think you are behind cover. The branching storyline and moral choices mean that sometimes other story elements and achievements are locked later in the game, meaning another play-through to get a different ending.
With the GOTY edition you get all of the DLC released for the game. With the Dunwall City Trials you are placed in a series of scenarios to test your puzzle, movement, stealth and combat skills in parts of a floating city.
The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches see you play as the Empress's assassin, Daud, with a new story arc as well as abilities and tactics in combat, such as summoning an assassin to help. New areas include a whale slaughterhouse, the Legal District, Coldridge Prison and the Brigmore Estate.
The Void Walker's Arsenal comprises four pre-order item packs that provide you with bone charms and money, as well as in-game books and statues.
Overall Dishonored is a brilliant title with hours of engrossing gameplay, allowing you numerous play styles and brings together the solid main story with some excellent extra content.