Based in a fictional setting of Dunwall, Dishonored tells us an interesting story of political corruption, betrayal, oppression and resistance, and of course lots and lots of death, whether it’s at the hands of the plague or the never-ending conflict that goes on. The immersive setting and nice story-telling are then assisted with gameplay that gives the player a chance to tackle every challenge in their own way.
What I greatly enjoyed about Dishonored is the diversity in which it allows you to approach its challenges. It’s a similar style of gameplay as the Deus Ex games. The player can go in with stealth, or they can go guns blazing, or maybe to try some diplomacy, or even to mix and match all of those. Even the primary targets can be handled in ways other than violence. That’s right – it is possible to complete the game without killing any major antagonist.
Depending on how the player handles each mission, they will acquire either high chaos or low chaos. Being merciful, using non-lethal ways of taking down regular enemies, and not triggering alarms all lead to low chaos, which in turn leads to a good ending. The opposite leads to high chaos and hence a bad ending. This greatly adds to the replayability of the game and makes it interesting to complete it at least twice.
Apart from standard weapons and equipment used in each mission, the player also learns supernatural powers throughout the gameplay. They can do so by acquiring special runes which are found in many areas of the game. Many of these powers are very interesting and provide excellent opportunities to try out new and creative ways of getting past a challenge at hand. Perhaps the most commonly used power is Blink, which allows the player to quickly teleport short distances from one cover to another, which is extremely useful for stealthy gameplay. There are several great powers to use, but the ones that stood out the most to me were Possession, which allows the protagonist to possess rats and other small animals and to get through small crawlspaces this way, Dark Vision, which allows the player to see nearby enemies through walls, and Bend Time, with which the player can temporarily slow, and with an upgrade completely stop, the time.
There are few minor things to criticise about Dishonored, like the lack of ways to take out the enemies non-lethally (sleep darts and upclose seem like the only ways), or how sometimes enemy AI and behaviour can be a bit unpredictable. The ending also felt a bit rushed, but once I got to the end of the game, I realised that it’s not so much the ending that’s important in games like these, but the journey itself. All those are just small drawbacks and were nothing compared to the unforgettable experience the game as a whole provided to me. A single playthrough may go for only 15-20 hours, but each minute of that playthrough keeps you fully immersed in the game’s rich and somewhat gloomy steampunk setting, not to mention its great replay value.
My score: 9.5/10