85 of 104 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but has its flaws
, October 13, 2012
This review is from: Dishonored Greatest Hits - Playstation 3 (Video Game)
I just finished a stealth playthrough of the game. To me, it was a somewhat frustrating experience, but still fun. I wanted the good ending, so I killed as few people as possible, but I did resort to direct combat at times.
Attacking people directly is not only quicker, but there is also a more satisfying array of options. The game gives you many lethal weapons, such as guns, traps and the ability to reprogram any enemy technology to target bad guys instead. There are also powers that allow you to summon rats that devour your enemies and whirlwinds that slam them into walls.
In stealth mode, there aren't very many ways to incapacitate the guards. There are crossbow bolts that put people to sleep, and you can sneak up behind people and knock them out, but that's about it. The option to knock people out does not always work as planned, either, and, even if the prompt comes up on screen, Corvo will sometimes raise his knife to block instead, usually right before the guard turns and sees you creepily standing behind him, which understandably freaks him out.
In a nutshell, if you're still deciding which way to play, stealth offers the good ending, and violence offers gameplay fluidity.
One decision I thought was strange was that the game always had Corvo carry a knife in his right hand, even if you are doing a nonviolent playthrough and even when you are only attempting to use a stealth skill such as blink. I never used the knife, but it was always there, in a space that could have been occupied by more useful abilities or equipment.
The area levels are relatively open, compared to some of the more linear games that are out nowadays, but it's difficult to fully appreciate your surroundings in a stealth playthrough. At some points, I just wanted to walk around and look at the city, which had a watercolor aesthetic I really liked, but guards are everywhere, and you have to get rid of all of them before you can explore openly.
I did not let that keep me from doing sidequests, though. I am very much a completionist, so I tried to explore all the areas fully before I left. There are many sidequests that don't even show up in your journal until you find a specific area, like saving a woman who's surrounded by rats or protecting an accused witch from overzealous guards, which helps with replayability. It was also fun to find the runes that upgrade your abilities and listen to the Outsider's (the guy who gives you your powers) take on in-game events.
Though I tried to be as thorough as possible, and though I played stealth mode, which is inherently time-consuming, I finished the game in about eight hours. The story was a little formulaic, and the only characters who were really interesting were Granny Rags and the Outsider. I did like the audiographs, though, which important characters used to record their private thoughts (Sometimes too private, actually. If I was feeling guilty about murdering someone, I probably wouldn't record myself saying so.)
Another thing that offers insight into the world is the heart the Outsider gives you, which can tell you more about characters and places in the game. The heart has a really cool voice and sometimes says interesting things about important NPC's. I was especially shocked at what it said about Piero, the scientist who upgrades your equipment at the Hound Pits Pub. Unfortunately, minor NPCs with similar backgrounds all have the same descriptions, like 'she hides her hands, which are red and raw from work,' will be a description for all women who aren't nobles or major NPCs.
The tall boys, which were featured heavily in advertisements, show up very late in the game, and, as far as I could tell, there's no way to incapacitate them without killing them, which was annoying. There was an interesting tidbit in one of the books at Lady Boyle's party, though, which made them way more interesting and sympathetic.
Despite my negativity in this review, I did like the game enough to give it three stars. I enjoyed playing a new IP, and I actually do like stealth games most of the time. Dishonored offers a lot of unique ways to get around without being seen, like possessing animals and stopping time, and it was fun to play with all the different options. The more destructive powers look promising too. Usually I can't stand to play the darker path, but for this game I'll try to give it a go so I can try out all the abilities.
I pre-ordered this game months ago, and I think it was worth it. It was exciting to play something so new and different, even if there were a few flaws. Dishonored is hard to fit in one category, so I'm not sure how to recommend it to others, but hopefully this review will help anyone on the fence about buying the game.
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