Average User Score: 8.4Jul 2, 2013I had previously written a rather middling review for Dishonored, giving it a '6' and calling it barebones with potential. However, since thatI had previously written a rather middling review for Dishonored, giving it a '6' and calling it barebones with potential. However, since that point, I have come to realize that it is truly one of the most important and artistically driven games in the current state of the industry. Thus, I have returned to revoke my previous statement in exchange for a more positive, enlightened view on the game.
To begin, I would like to state that while Dishonored's core story is still, in my opinion, lacking, its lore and ambiguous backstory is absolutely fascinating, and the setting is rich in history and intrigue. Learning about Dunwall isn't as easy as picking up audio diaries or listening to conversations- you will really need to piece things together and listen to the Heart to build your own impression of what this place truly represents. The main plot remains uninteresting and somewhat half-hearted, but at least enough to keep you going along with each of your little stealthy capers.
The gameplay- oh, the glorious, glorious gameplay. Dishonored provides so many different organic choices to how you approach its levels that you feel the only way you can do the developers justice is to replay it as many times as possible. Whether it be crawling beneath tables, gunning your way through rooms, or climbing to the highest vantage point, Arkane's gem plays almost unlike any other game this generation. Your actions are performed swiftly and accurately, and for once first-person platforming is executed very well. Violent players will find a number of delightful tools to their exposure, while hardcore stealth veterans will really delve into its Thief-esque non-lethal side.
Of course, the non-lethal portion of the game is still rather bare in features- I stand by the ideas of being able to shoot sleep darts through keyholes and the ability to tackle enemies in order to knock them out, as well as shadow-based visibility and water arrows. Other sneak-based spells would be highly-appreciated, but it becomes clear the further you play that Arkane clearly intended you to discover stealthy options available with otherwise-violent powers. But even as it stands, I've come to really enjoy the option of knocking out my enemies one by one, stacking them all up in a high perch with the knowledge that they'll all eventually wake up and look around at one another, feeling awkward and terrified.
Dishonored's visual and level design are also excellent. It does indeed take time to appreciate all of the nuances, but they are there, and you will be happily awarded for relishing in them. The game does an excellent job of providing you with an environment that's a blast to explore but never dives into confusing, labyrinth territories, such as many adventure games with frequent loading screens. Its hub-like areas really help the overall package, as its easy to get the lay of the land and work out your strategies from there. Plenty of nooks and crannies can be exploited for the treasure-hunters out there, which really adds to the game's borderline love-letter degree of inspiration taken from Thief.
Voice acting is middling to top notch, with Piero being absolutely maddening to listen to, but deep, engaging characters such as Lord Pendleton having real, tangible soul. The sound effects are high-quality work, especially the change in the pitch of sounds when transitioning from Blink or Stop Time. Two major complaints that I originally had with the game do persist, however: the ending is very sudden and unsatisfying, and the lack of a New Game Plus feature is insult to injury. In a game that focuses on collecting upgrades and powers, it seems odd that this was not a no-brainer for Arkane. The already high replay value could have been made limitless if they had continued to stack the levels of bone charms and spells. Of course, these are two of only a handful of blemishes on an otherwise sparkling game. Dishonored should be recognized and praised for being one of the few truly niche games around, aiming for the audience it knows is interested in its concepts and polishing all of those concepts to a fine sheen. Hopefully, for the sequel, Arkane will up the intrigue, go open-world, and further increase the arsenal of powers, weapons, and sneaking moves at your hands.… Expand