Community Review: Dishonored

It happens every now and then. We're busy talking up the big franchise games, and one sneaks under the radar. The last new IP I remember receiving this much buzz early in the holiday period was BioShock. Game of the year plaudits are already being thrown around for Dishonored, but just how good is it?

Well, pretty damn good.

Dishonored, on multiple levels, is a game about the choices you make. Dishonored allows you to create your own path, it allows you to deal with enemies in multiple different ways — it gives you a broad toolbox and gives you a playground with which to utilise them. This is known.

But on a different level, it's also the most customisable console game I can remember playing. The HUD is almost fully customisable, you can turn markers on or off, you can make it more difficult to find the game's secrets, you can turn auto aim on or off. In short, you can make the game almost artificially difficult for yourself.

To begin with I found this a little intimidating. With a limited amount of time for games, it's nigh on impossible, to create for yourself, the 'optimal' Dishonored experience. And while that's kind of the point, I did find it a little frustrating.

Particularly with the waypoint system.

With the waypoint system 'on', Dishonored becomes a relatively flat game of traversal. There's no need to explore, no sense of discovery, and missions can be completed relatively efficiently. Turn waypoints off, however, and things become entirely more vague. You will often have nothing to go on, you will get lost, you will become frustrated. I found the lack of a middle ground a little irritating.

Surely Arkane Games could have come up with a waypoint system, or something else entirely, making things a little more accessible, but still rewarding? At the moment I'm playing with the waypoints off — which is what I would recommend for most folks — but there definitely have been times where I've had to quickly turn them on to make sure I'm heading somewhere in the right direction. On a few occasions I've missed a subtle cue, and gone right past something important and had to track back.

So far, this has been my only complaint, and is one which can easily be explained away. Dishonored is a game that provides choice in every possible facet, so the less intrusion the better in a number of ways.

It's also the kind of game I imagine I'd enjoy more on a second playthrough, which is annoying, because I most likely won't have the time for that!

Anyway, I've rambled for too long — this is a Community Review! I'd like to hear your thoughts on the game so far, so drop them in the comments below!


Comments

    It was my birthday on Friday morning. I got up early to try and sneak in a couple of hours before the gf woke up. I boot the game, watch about 30 seconds, then my brother storms into my room drunk as a skunk ranting about Guv'mint. Game over. Didn't get another chance to play over the weekend due to the flu.

    It was an awesome 30 seconds. I found out the player characters name. 10 out of 10.

      Could you tell it again? Do you have the time?

        It's text, why don't you just read it again?

      Damn the man

    I've enjoyed it, but it does have a few shortcomings. I see where you're getting at with the whole waypoint thing, but my real issues were with... dialogue.

    Often I didn't think the writing for dialogue was up to scratch, nor was the silent protagonist pulled off successfully in the slightest. It also felt forced and clingy in that you either sit there jammed into a cutscene talking to someone or you use the option to skip it and end up missing some pretty juicy facts. I'm not normally impatient, I just feel the dialogue could have been presented to me a bit better. That and the writing isn't exactly too snappy nor clever.

    Apart from that I've had great fun with the game. I'll admit the waypoints have kinda had me making beelines for objectives in missions, but I hadn't thought of turning them off :-P
    Middle ground sure would be great.

      Agree, I'm enjoying some elements of it but the way dialogue is forced on you combined with being a silent protagonist does not work well.

      I dont like the 'badass cool-lookin character with a mask and outfit' combined with him being a silent protagonist. - to me it screams of making IP for its own sake rather than what is best and relevant for the story they are telling (and cosplay fodder to boot)

    Played for 5 minutes then returned to xcom

      +1, xcom is sooo addictive, "just one more mission"

      +2!

        Returned and swapped for xcom

    First thing I did was turn the objective markers off - have only been confused by what to do once where the option objective couldn't really be located without the map marker telling you where to go (depositing a body) in a garbage bin). Still not sure about the game - lots of shortcomings but I'm still buzzing to play more and finish it. Graphics are still disappointing despite the awesome art direction the game takes - some really low res textures. While good it's also derivative of so many other games it's hard to ignore.

    I never got lost when I had the objective markers turned off, it reminded me of Thief, how I actually had to be mindful of what the NPCs actually said to be sure of where I needed to go. And beside that, a lot more of the game reminds me of Thief, both games took an approach to level design in way that lead to the creation of a world that was believable and immersive, compared to the more gamey feeling worlds of Deus Ex, Metal Gear Solid and other such stealth games.

    The thing I love most about it though is just how smooth the whole experience is, you can flit in and out of combat and stealth with absolute ease which lends so much to the game's wide span of choice it presents.

    The only thing I can criticise is the abrupt nature of the ending, it literally is just the end of the last mission and a short cutscene, if there was a short (playable) segment indicating a progression back to normality, I think that would have set a better pace for the ending.

    Overall though it definitely is the best game I've played in the past 5 years, and though it doesn't reach there, it does hold a candle to Thief.

    A complaint that I have - and I'd be very interested in their reasoning on this - is that there is no feedback for when you're 'hidden' and, conversely, 'not hidden'. A subtle shift in reticle colour, or other HUD element, or colour saturation in the environment... Or something, would have allowed me to understand when I am in control and when I need to feel vulnerable.

    Sometimes I feel that I'm in the same hue of darkness as moments before, where I was indeed hidden, only to have a guard spot me and start flailing his stabby aperatus at my face.

    Since I am trying to complete the game with zero accounts of alerting enemies, this is quite frustrating.

    Also some feedback on whether or not I have indeed checked the box for 'spotted' or 'enemy killed' so I'd know when to re-load. Yesterday I put Sokolov on an elevator and, upon using it, some physics bug killed him.

    Moments later I tried to hide an unconscious body on a box, on a catwalk over water, the body disappeared - I suspect I was too close to the box and the collision failed to catch it - and the body fell through the catwalk and I heard a splash. It's so hard to know what counts as a kill and if weepers seeing you counts as being spotted (which it does).

    Otherwise, fantastic game that succeeds in making me feel like an assassin... Not like another aptly named franchise that sells that idea but really makes me feel like a white, parkour, gymnast-ninja.

      Re: first point
      Yeah. I know the devs said stealth works on some sort of true line of sight sort of thing; I can dig it, but it's also a bit weird when you can lean around the corner, see them completely while they can't see you because your main (unleaning) body is hidden behind something.
      Knowing how stealthed you are is really difficult to convery in terms of video game mechanics in a way that's intuitive, and I don't think this version is quite right.

      Re: second point. This morning I snuck up behind a guard an choked him unconscious, only for him to fall through a sky light and splat on the ground.
      Aaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwkward.

        Knowing how stealthed you are is really difficult to convey in terms of video game mechanics in a way that's intuitive, and I don't think this version is quite right.

        Splinter Cell Conviction did this perfectly, the game went black & white when you were perfectly hidden, if things were colour then you were exposed but if a guard noticed you then a directional marker in the middle of the screen would light up along with an alert sound.

        Finally, if you spotted a white ghost of yourself appears in your last known position.

    Not advertising (don't check it out if you don't want to, obviously), but here it my write up I did on Gamespot:

    http://au.gamespot.com/users/DigitalExile/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25996168

    tl;dr:

    Overall I enjoyed it immensely. I wasn't a fan of the story or writing though (even if I thought dialogue was pretty good). It was a bit frustrating not being able to take the Hitman route and "blend in" to the crowd. There were a few areas that you could, particularly the dinner party mission, but that was more or less forced upon you in a linear way. I agree that the waypoint system made it either too easy or too difficult and really limited the scope of the game in both directions. But for me it was all about the art style and the setting. For me the look and feel of the game was the focus point and EASILY outweighed any gameplay issues I had - not that gameplay is bad: gameplay is really fun it's just very easy to find flaws in a system that was obviously striving to be much more. Game of the year? No, probably not but I would like to see much more* of this world and at least some expansion packs with expanded gameplay. Unfortunately I suspect I'll see neither.**

    *And isn't that a good business ideal - getting loyal and repeat customers? **In light of the fact that I actually want to see more and would be willing to pay to do so it's a shame that I won't get that chance, especially when other games I have no interest in are spitting out content like a fricken garden hose that's been left on over night.

    I would have prefered a map over a waypoint system my self but i've found its a good game overall

    I enjoyed this for a day until XCOM sunk its hooks into me.

    The dinner party mission had so much potential that I feel went untapped in terms of ways of completing the goal. I was expecting having to work it out through a series of clues; not the 2 ways it is possible to find out very quickly and easily. Loved the masks on that level though; some fantastic art design.
    Also teleporting whilst having a duel with someone is cheating and witchcraft apparently :(
    Other than that, greatly enjoyed my time with the game- I do feel like a badass ninja; teleporting around choking folks out, then bamfing behind my next target to repeat then; escaping as a fish. It's clever design; and does give a lovely open feel like the original Deus Ex did.

    Definitely a game worth multiple playthroughs, just to try out all the different things available.
    Also, the end cutscene was disappointingly short and minimal.

    Well I played it for a few minutes, than my tv starts flashing. Long story short, need a new Xbox 360. This will be number 5 :(

    I've gotta say I'm loving it so far. I'm only halfway through the first assassination mission though so I've got a long way to go. Once you get the blink power the whole game changes. I agree with what other people have said regarding some of its flaws. I would love to see a sequel, just to see the same great game but without the flaws.

    In just about every RPG I play, I attempt to go as close to a mage/rogue as possible, because it's just an awesome combination. It's the skillset I default to. So, when I first heard about the concept of Dishonored, I was pretty hopeful - a game designed entirely around the mage/rogue class combo.

    First thing I did was turn objective markers off, and I love the way that encourages you to explore and piece together the specifics of what you have to do. I saw some gameplay yesterday of the first mission with objective markers on, and it has a completely different feel - they give you an idea of exactly where and how far away the objective is, which eases a lot of the tension that comes with the uncertainty of what lies around the next corner. Not having the objective markers on was annoying precisely once: that optional thing in the second mission - I had no clue where I was meant to dump the body ("a safe place" isn't very descriptive)... But that's the only time I've had difficulty. Having a blast just exploring - 14 hours in, and just completed the first optional objective for mission 3 (so note that my opinion is somewhat limited, and most of what I'm saying is based on the assumption that the first two missions are representative of the rest of the game).

    I'm a little disappointed that the non-lethal offensive track is so sparse - lethal tactics have a huge array of supporting hardware - crossbow bolts, incendiary bolts, pistol, springrazors, grenades, sword... Non-lethal has sleep darts or choke takedown. I suppose this is offset by the powers you get that allow you to bypass enemies entirely, but I like to remove enemies from an area so I can be free to explore it (read: "loot everything"). In a similar fashion, I'm disappointed you can never swap out your sword for something else (say, dual-wield blink and the heart), because the sword is completely useless for a stealth non-lethal approach.

    The story is rather derivative, but the way it's told (and the way the world is fleshed out) is amazing. Ambient chatter is pretty good, but the scripted dialogue between random characters is pretty amazing - the maid and the guard in the Doctor's house in Mission 2, for instance, or the way your allies confide their misgivings about your motivations to each other when they think you're not around... the guards that note what you did in an earlier section (amazed at either your combat skills or your invisibility). The books and notes left around give a huge amount of character to the world, too.

    The level design, from what I can tell, is awesome - every objective has at least two entrances, and everything screams choice. The way the game changes based on how you fared in a previous area (did the second mission twice because I'd missed an optional objective, and managed not to trip the alarm - the escape was distinctly less hazardous the second time round). The aesthetic is also very well chosen, the bright watercolours contrasting nicely with the ugliness of the characters.

    Overall, it's (thus far) my goty (however with games like AC3 and Halo 4 around the corner, it's got some tough competition).

    Bought this the other day. Played the opening mission, which I've heard is rather generic. I'd play it on that alone, and am looking forward to getting further into it, but I've been too busy to give it a further look. Perhaps I can convince my wife to go to bed early tonight... ;)

    What REALLY irks me about this game is it constantly telling me that I will get a "darker outcome" if I kill more people. There is something incredibly off-putting about it and it completely undermines any sense of immersion in the story or world for me. Why not just let me naturally experience the result of my actions?

      Agreed. I really want to try all of the lethal options in the game, because it looks like a lot of fun, and a lot more flowing than having to constantly creep around and saving and reloading, but I keep feeling like this is the wrong way to play because it will affect the outcome, and so I keep to the shadows, missing out on a lot of fun. I would much rather they didn't tell you about this at all, so we can all just play the way we like without feeling guilty.

    I am supposed to be playing with markers off? I didn't know this and I am still enjoying it quite a lot. It deserves a lot of the praise it is getting but I don't think it is quite Game of the Year material. The choice is a huge thing, but I have found the level design to be quite good as well.

    Of course, what interests me most is the lore of the world and I must commend arkane on that. All the books and whatnot? So awesome.

    I completely love this entire game! Only thing that annoys me is... KICKING! Why arcane studios left out a kicking mechanic is beyond me! I kicked my way through most of dark messiah of might and magic and loved every second of it!

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