The city of Dunwall, residing in the only civilized part of the world, The Isles, is littered with corruption and disease. The whaling industry, being the primary source of energy for The Isles, feeds directly into the pockets of the rich and powerful. The poor suffer on the streets, which are filled with plague ridden rats. Once bitten, the plague causes blood to run from the eyes of the infected, transforming innocent people into what the government calls “Weepers.” Dunwall, the once prosperous center of civilization, seems to be on the verge of destruction – and Corvo Attano is at its epicenter.
Dishonored sees the player taking control of Corvo Attano, the once trusted bodyguard of the Empress, Jesseamine Kaldwin. The Empress is now dead and Corvo has been wrongly accused as her murderer by the Spymaster, Hiram Burrows. Sentenced to what seems an inescapable death, Corvo gets an unexpected message from an unknown ally. Once escaped from prison, Corvo joins the Loyalists, a group of rebels who know that Corvo had nothing to do with the murder of the Empress and seek to return Emily Kaldwin, the daughter of the Empress, to the throne. The Outsider, a mysterious figure who resides in the Void and possesses supernatural abilities, grants Corvo his mark, giving him supernatural powers of his own. With powers in hand, pun completely intended, Corvo promptly decides to join the Loyalists and use his gift to seek revenge on those who have wronged him.
Unlike many games that come out now, striving for photo-realism and super high-resolution, Dishonored is pure art. The entire world of Dishonored is absolutely beautiful. The urban-Victorian-steam-punk environments come alive with the extremely stylized artistic look that really only this game offers. Whether exploring a masquerade party, the back alley’s of a broken, crumbling city, or even venturing into the sewers, there’s never a lack of something pleasant to look at. The clothing and aesthetic of the buildings and characters remind one of Victorian era London. At the same time, the machinery and tech go far beyond that, blending future with past seamlessly into a world that begs to be explored. Each character is a joy to look at and when the going gets tough, stabbing, shooting, and strangling them looks just as wonderful. The world is so fantastic, beautiful, and most importantly, believable. The simple act of exploration leaves the player wanting more.
The sound in Dishonored is top-notch. The ambient music, while exploring, suits the gameplay superbly. While playing the game, at times I even jumped when the solitude of stealth and exploration is suddenly shattered by a wandering guard accompanied by the noise of piano keys sharply sounding off. When the player does get spotted and is forced to fight, the clanking of swords and banging of gunshots, sound fantastic while never missing a beat. The matching of word and mouth could be better here, but nonetheless, the voice-acting is done with notable actors and actresses, bringing each character to life. Making them worth listening to rather than just skipping their lines.
The pure gameplay of Dishonored is simply perfect. The levels are very large, and always have multiple paths through them. The player can choose to be a ghost and not be seen by a single enemy, or they can go full-blown action game and murder the lot. Each are accompanied by their own consequences, being in the form of Chaos. The level of Chaos a player has, being either low or high, determines the amount of rats, guards, Weepers, etc. that are in each level. Even the ending is affected by the Chaos system, which lends to a high replay value. Every control is tight and responsive. The player chooses between stealth mode, or not. While in stealth mode, Corvo makes much less noise which is useful for silent take-downs. While not in stealth mode, Corvo can be heard when approaching enemies but is much more agile.
Corvo always has his trusty sword in his right hand. Along with his sword, Corvo comes equipped with a nice selection of weaponry that can be wielded in his left hand. These include a crossbow that fires regular bolts, sleep bolts, and incendiary bolts, a very noisy pistol, and even some projectiles like grenades. One of the first powers the player receives is Blink, a short-range teleportation ability that is useful whether the player is being stealthy, lethal, or a little bit of both. Both weapon and power can be selected from the weapon wheel and further be placed in four separate quick-selection buttons on the D-pad. Most of Corvo’s equipment can be upgraded and modified as well. More powers can be unlocked, ranging from a wind-blast to possessing living creatures, by searching for Runes throughout the areas. These can be located by using the Heart, an object that The Outsider gives and apparently made for the purpose of finding these Runes. The Heart also locates Bonecharms. The Bonecharms add a permanent status effect to Corvo, such as raising his mana or making him quicker while sneaking. But the Heart’s abilities don’t stop there, it can also be used to hear information on any character. These abilities are simple and easy to use and using them couldn’t be more fun.
Dishonored is a really fantastic game that is like nothing else I have played. An engrossing world and experience have been created here. The story is gripping and takes enough twists and turns to make the player want to progress further. And with a nice cast of voice actors to accompany the story, a scene should never be skipped, at least not the first time through. The city of Dunwall is vast and beautiful, just begging to be explored. Everything about the gameplay is amazing, from sneaking past the many guards that protect high-profile targets, to slitting, stabbing, and exploding a path to them. Dishonored gives the players many choices and leads them down many paths, providing a great sense of wonder and freedom. And, honestly, who doesn’t love wonder and freedom?