I have a digital copy, all neatly installed via Steam. It works perfectly well. The controls are nothing I can’t handle, and I have the long patience for a game full of stealth. I play nearly every game slowly and stealthily! This one was practically made for me, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on it for months.
But Dishonored, sadly, makes me sick.
It’s not the swarms of man-eating plague rats that do me in (although writing that, maybe it should be). It’s something far more fundamental: the first-person perspective. I, it turns out, am prone to motion sickness while gaming, as are many others.
The first time a video game ever made me ill, I was a teenager, babysitting. My young charge, with whom I had played Nintendo games in the past, excitedly showed me his brand new Nintendo 64 and Super Mario 64. The wavering camera, meandering through the 3D world, turned my stomach embarrassingly quickly. I buried my nose in a book to avoid looking at the screen while the kid bounced his way through the game.
In the years since I have learned the hard way that while I can play Mario Kart on the DS, I can’t do it in a moving car or train, and that Mirror’s Edge is a story I will simply never be able to experience. The demo of that one did enough damage.
After gaming successes in 2007, though, I started to get cocky. For whatever reason, I was able to manage most of Portal, although I still had to pause the game and take some long breaks during particularly twisty levels. BioShock, too, I could handle in 1-2 hour chunks. As the years went on, I played hundreds of hours of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, in first-person view probably 90% of the time.
I thought that my susceptibility to motion in games was a thing of the past, and that I could move on with a happy, well-rounded gaming future. I was wrong. I had to hand the controls over to my spouse when it came time to drive the Mako in the original Mass Effect, by the time I finally got around to trying the game. Shooting and dialogue I could handle, but a space dune buggy, peacefully bouncing among the craters? Not a chance.
Portal 2 came and went without incident and I hoped, once again, that I might be safe. Then came Starhawk, which I had to see through for review. For a week, I lived on Bonine tablets and scheduled myself an hour of lying down with a pillow over my head for every hour of play. Never has 10 hours of playing what’s actually a pretty good game felt so hellish.
And now, Dishonored.
I want to love it. But before I can decide how I feel about Dishonored, I have to play it — and I was barely even able to scratch the barest surface of the tutorial and introductory level before I had to walk away and go sit quietly with my head between my knees. My second attempt ended the same way as my first, and I haven’t yet been brave enough to sit down for a lengthy empirical session with the thousand different settings to see if I can make it less stomach-churning.
It seems that perhaps my fondness for 2D and third-person games is as much a matter of self-preservation as anything else. Still, I have high hopes for Dishonored. It does have so very many settings to change that I hope, eventually, I can tweak it to the place where I can play for an hour or two at a time.
And if not, well, at least I’ll always have XCOM.