“Dishonored: Game of the Year” is the GOTY edition of the stealth action-adventure video game first released in 2012. Developed by Arkane Studios, the studio that made Bioshock 2, I found Dishonored to be a game that doesn’t change the stealth playing field but it does do a lot of things very well.
Set in the Victorian, steam-punk city of Dunwall, you play as Corvo Attano, bodyguard to the Empress of the Isles. Quickly, you are framed for her murder and the kidnapping of the young princess, Emily. After escaping from prison with the help of the Loyalists, a resistance group fighting to reclaim Dunwall, you seek vengeance on those who framed you and also come into contact with the Outsider, a powerful magical being who (for some reason) imbues you with magical abilities.
Played from a first-person perspective, the game will remind players a lot of games like Thief but with more combat. Don’t get me wrong, Dishonored is primarily a stealth game but the game does allow you to undertake the missions in a variety of ways. For example, you can carry out your assassination missions by killing no one but the target; or you can murder everyone in your path when getting to the target.
The game does allow you to complete all missions in a non-lethal manner or vice-verse, and the story will accordingly to your decisions. The variety of choice is one of the game’s main selling points and I liked it. I can complete my mission through stealth, combat, or (usually) a combination of both and the many ways for accomplishing mission goals is something I enjoy.
I also liked the very well thought-out lore. I’m not really a fan of steam-punk (never understood the fascination) but the setting of Dunwall is very good. The idea that the main energy source is whale oil is wonderful and makes a lot of sense in the context of the game. Also the idea of the Outsider is great. The world of Dishonored is basically one well into the early industrial age, so much so that most magic in the world had been forgotten and considered dangerous and “evil”.
The city of Dunwall is also one that is very well thought-out. A city ravaged by plague, Arkane Studios captured the atmosphere of the game very well. The city is stunning but it clearly had seen better days and the bright but grim city captures everything. Even the rich/poor divide of the city was well-captured.
However, I do find some problems with the game. I thought the story has some plot-holes in it. The game never told us why the Outsider chose to give magical powers to Corvo, and if you go the non-lethal, why all the Loyalists killed themselves at the end. I mean if you hadn’t killed anyone thus far, why do they think I will start now? I thought the story in the DLCs, The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, to be much better. The story of the assassin, Daud, actually makes more sense than Corvo’s and when the story of the DLC beat the main game, that’s a problem.
Still, I think “Dishonored: Game of the Year” is a good game to get. The freedom of gameplay is great and the levels are generally very clever. The game has a lot of replay value and outside the story, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not great but it’s fun and ultimately, that’s the most important thing for a video game.