I have to add to the rousing chorus of appreciation for Dishonoured.
Arkane Studio’s first person assassin-em-up is a glittering jewel of game play in a world full of Call of Duty. I’m not sure any one aspect of it is truly, individually superb – although none of it is less than supremely competent – but the chewy bundle of goodness into which it’s all been squished is something special.
Set in an industrial, steam-punk dystopia, framed, betrayed and cast out, you are given your choice of approaches to wreaking your rewengay*. Sneak or storm, ghost or gun, magic or good old-fashioned peering around corners, it’s up to you and the entire game world is set up to provide you with opportunity and challenge in whichever path you chose. The mechanics work near-perfectly; a particular achievement when so many of them are either new, or at least rarely seen in gaming today. I can only think of two slight control quibbles and they would both be unworthy.
The world is rich, dark and chewy. It reacts to you and to your actions. Rich history is all around you, not only in books, but written on the walls and scribed in the architecture. The plot is perhaps the weakest point; it barrels along and visits all the necessary highs and lows, but there are points left unmade, questions unanswered. I can only hope that DLC will follow to fill in some of the gaps – not because I feel aggrieved by what I’ve been given so far, but because I really want to know!
In a great many ways, this game claims the crown that Deus Ex should have worn. I loved most of Deus Ex, but the repeated and terrible boss-fights stopped me from ever finishing it and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. There are no such concerns with Dishonoured; however you chose to play, there are options for you to complete the entire game in that manner. It’s perfectly possible to finish the plot without ever taking a life, without ever being seen, or you can click your fingers, stop time, messily slice up half a dozen guards and then watch as time starts running again and they all fall to the ground in a bloody heap.
Even if you’re not a first-person gamer, give this a chance. Rent it, or wait for the £5 bin. Do yourself a favour and take the chance to indulge in one of the finest, most competent, original and liberating games you’ve ever played.
*: watch some Blackadder, damn you!