It had been a long time since I’d played a good story-driven FPS. ‘Dishonored’ designed & developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda caught my attention from the word go. It had been doing rounds with gameplay & cinematic trailers for some time now. I don’t know what exactly caught my attention; was it the unconventional graphic style/art direction? Or the name Bethesda, who gave us the ever-amazing ‘Skyrim’, attached to it? Or was it the very Bioshock inspired gameplay? I just had to see for myself; and “SEE…I DID!”
The first thing you’ll notice about the game is that it felt a lot like Bioshock and I’d like to quickly add that it’s not a bad thing. A few minutes into Dishonored and you’ll know that the gameplay only remotely resembles Bioshock. There is a good chance that you’d find the design and art direction more akin to Bioshock though, coz Arkane studios did previously work on the same in Bioshock. Comparisons aside, Dishonored puts you in the shoes of the royal assassin ‘Corvo Attano’. Framed for the Empress’ murder, a rage-impelled Corvo is propelled through a plethora of brilliantly designed levels for getting revenge armed with both mordacious arsenal of guns/arrows/grenades & supernatural powers. The plot really drills forward with enough twists and turns to strangle yourself in. “Set in the fictional industrial city of Dunwall, modeled after Victorian London, Dishonored follows Corvo Attano, a legendary bodyguard to the Empress who is framed for her murder and forced to become an assassin to seek revenge on those who conspired against him. Attano is aided in his quest by the Outsider, a powerful being who imbues him with magical abilities.” – Wikipedia
On another note, I don’t understand why all FPS games are going the RPG way these days. Even veterans at id adopted some role-playing elements for their last IP ‘Rage’. I do understand nobody prefers just run-n-gun FPS games now and even I, myself wasn’t so thrilled playing Serious Sam 3! Recently almost all FPS games are ridden with RPG elements. It’s a boon to games like Dishonored and I promise I’ll get back to that, but I miss those story-oriented linear games of the yesteryear, ala ‘Return to Castle Wolfenstein’.
I have to say the graphics is stellar, courtesy of a modified Unreal Engine. The amount of textures and special effects floating around is impressive to say the least. It almost feels like a living painting: the sunbeams, the water, the caricaturistic character models, everything seem to just liven the Dishonored world beyond anything. It just screams how gorgeous a game could be rendered using the Unreal engine. I was very impressed with the load times especially when it renders the whole of a mission in just one load. There are usual flaws like miniscule texture loading issues and invisible walls but it never hinders the experience. It is not a sandbox game and hence the invisible walls but consider Dishonored a playground where you can play according to your choice. You can either go guns blazing in all 9 missions and kill everybody in sight which will cause a ‘High Chaos ending’ or go about stealthily and cause a ‘Low Chaos’ ending. The sheer number of alternative routes to complete a mission in this game will boggle your mind and here Dishonored shines. The game encourages you to play without killing a single NPC/Enemy. Yes, it seems it’s possible to complete the game without any fatalities but it was tough for me to use those immensely satisfying powers and weapons. My fingers were almost twitching to use a spring razor or an explosive arrow. At its core Dishonored is still an FPS/RPG, just like Bioshock. Instead of Adam and Plasmids you have Runes and Bone Charms and yes it changes the way you play the game drastically.
The music and ambience added plentiful to the already gratifying experience. From the eery ‘Drunken Whaler’ theme to the grim sewer ambience everything rocks.
Clocking at 9+ hours I played and reveled in Dishonored and yes I am happy to say that it deserves the best new IP awards this season. Dishonored promises great and varied level design as well enemies, an interesting plot, good gameplay innovations and gorgeous set-piece moments. Revenge as it seems can be very satisfying. All thanks go to Arkane Studios for this sweet sweet game. This is exactly how a good game should be!