Corvo Attano is a man on a mission. The newly-Ex Lord Protector of the Empress of Gristol, wrongly accused of murdering the very woman he was charged with protecting but rescued from execution by a shadowy rebellion battling an even more shadowy conspiracy who were really behind the death of the Empress. Phew. His mission now is to find out what this shadowy conspiracy is up to whilst, hopefully, putting the rightful heir on the throne and clearing his name.
At its most basic, Dishonored could be seen as just another first-person shooter but it has so much more to it than that. Dishonored oozes with steampunk charm from the port filled with whaling ships whose whale oil fuels the very industry of the island to the city streets where citizens’ movements are controlled by “Walls of Light”, vast electrified gateways that threaten to disintegrate whoever dares to step through at the wrong time. From the lush, extravagant palaces and “pleasure establishments” to the creaking, robotic “Tallboy” units and electric-crackling Ark Pylons, the city is run down and under the thumb of a rat plague, and the City Watch march the streets keeping everyone under a strict curfew. The main location, the city of Dunwall, was apparently influenced by paintings of 17th Century London, ravaged with plague and fire and then sprinkled with sci-fi weaponry and fantasy magic.
Corvo is aided in his quest by a group of rebels, fighting an oppressive new regime; his most notable ally being Piero Joplin, an inventor who can supply Corvo with new gadgets and upgrades, voiced by Brad Dourif. Corvo is also assisted by the mysterious Devil/God character of The Outsider who only visits Corvo in his dreams and imbues him with magical abilities as well as a mechanically altered heart that can help Corvo find magic items as well as telling Corvo secrets… Come on, who wouldn’t want one of those?
This game takes time, well, for me it does anyway. I like to creep around and take in the scenery, revelling in finding all the different ways I could execute a mission before moving ahead. But Dishonored rewards you for taking your time. You don’t have to mindlessly slaughter everyone in your path to reach your goal. In fact, doing that just creates chaos in the city, instils fear in the citizens as more rats swarm through the streets in search of more dead bodies to gorge themselves on. Dead bodies that you have left behind, if you go down ‘that’ route.
But I sneak around precariously on rooftops, avoiding conflict and only knocking folk out if I have to, rather than killing them. These guards are just innocent folk trapped in the system, doing a job, after all…
However, this game is a rarity. It’s one game that I already want to play through again, after I’ve completed my initial stealthy route. I’ll go in all guns and crossbows blazing next time and pay the price for doing so. Arkane Studios have created an immersive, richly detailed world where I want to play all the options through – a rare achievement in gameplay, which is something many games try to provide but not always as successfully as this. Dishonored is well worth the entrance fee, I heartily recommend it.