Take a bit of Victorian London, a dash of the black plague and a slice of steampunk, mix it all together with political conspiracy, shadowy groups and a protagonist thirsty for revenge and you have some idea of what you’re in for when you slip Dishonored into your XBox.
Some idea, but not the complete picture. the black plague may be decimating the city’s population, but the results are a little more horrific than history claimed, with some victims turning into zombie like monsters before they shuffle off their mortality permanently. And the rats themselves will sometime run in packs big enough to take down and consume a healthy human. You’ve been warned.
You play the role of Corvo Attano, the chief bodyguard of the Empress and now framed and imprisoned for her murder. Your first mission will be breaking out of the prison with the help of a shadowy group that will become your family, giving you missions to seek revenge and put things right.
Endowed with some supernatural abilities through a dream sequence, you have the opportunity to upgrade your skills and acquire new ones through a nicely implemented skill tree that lest you customise your character to the way you want to play. It’s how you upgrade your skills that sets Dishonored above most other recent games.
Though each chapter will give you a mission to complete, how you complete it is up to you, including the timeframe, giving you the option to explore the city as much or as little as you want. Side missions abound, as do supernatural artifacts that enable you to up-skill. Finding these character building treasures is part of what makes Dishonored so dam enjoyable to play. It’s like a treasure hunt, buts et in a city locked down by guards who are out to kill you, and packs of rats who want to devour you. There’s plenty to discourage you from exploring outside the mission parameters, but just as much reward to encourage you to explore every nook an cranny.
The missions themselves are open for interpretation as well, often having more than one way to solve them. In-fact the way you approach the game is up to you, but be warned, your actions do have consequences.
You have at your disposal lethal and non-lethal ways of dealing with guards, and having the ability to climb around and traverse the city in many ways – including, if you chose this particular perk, the ability to take the form of a rat to get through small spaces. It’s all to easy with the story-line – and it’s a great story, rarely does a game make me want to devour every cut scene, but Dishonored did – to be hell bent on revenge, and kill, kill and kill some more. But be warned, if you take this murderous route, the final outcome will be significantly darker than if you had kept to the shadows and killed only when absolutely avoidable.
The depth of options is such that you probably won’t realise that you’re missing out on certain ways to achieve your goals unless you read other players comments online, and it’s this open ended game-play that makes Dishonored such a refreshing game to play. Sure you’re ushered down a certain path by having to complete missions, but having each mission play-out in a total sandbox gives you control and makes you feel like you’re actually part of the game rather than just along for the ride.
Visually DIshonored is stunning. It has a visual feel all of it’s own, and isn’t without a few glitches, but it is one of the most beautifully realised games you will play this year. It’s a game that will feature highly in the end of year best of lists, a game that you don’t want to miss out on playing.