29 Oct 2012

Monday Media Fun - Dishonoured

I’m moving along the side of a building rooftop. The area is in some need of repair and the dirt from the rapid industrialization is everywhere adding a ‘shine’ of filth and grime to every surface I can see and touch.

By the time I reach the fancy party I’m no longer under threat of violence. I gather near a group of other masked guests as I look around hoping to pick up some information from their conversation. Instead I’m rewarded with a gust of wind blowing a invitation out of one of the guest's hands.

I quickly go pick it, up get out of sight and move to the front door. I present the invitation and walk into the mannor.

I have a feeling the rest of the mission will not be so easy.

Dishonoured - This is gona be fun
I’ve played Dishonoured on the hardest setting and I never killed a soul. Not bad for a game of vengeance and mystical, steam powered assassins.

First off, this game is put out by Bethesda those friendly folks who made Fallout 3 and Skyrim. They are very poor games - if you lived in a room of gold and slept on top of a large pile of money with many beautiful women.

Since I don’t live as such, I think those two games are awesome and I think Bethesda publishing Dishonoured is a smart move to establish themselves of being only producers of quality and unique vision.

You see when I looked at the games coming out this season, everything was a remake or had a number slapped on the end. Iterations of current IP’s flooding the shelves is the warning sign that new Ideas are hard to sell, expensive, and rarely get the attention that they should.

The last big AAA game innovation I can remember was Assassins Creed with the crowds, open cities, and the movement. Oh getting around the place was awesome. That same refreshing breath of innovation returns with Dishonoured.

The first and only power you ‘need’ in the game is the ability to ‘blink’. Blink is a 'teleportation' power that allows a player to instantly move and cross the space from their current location to another within the range of the ability and their line of sight. You can’t blink through things and when you finish gravity will take hold of you once again.

A very neat idea in a well presented game.

The blink power is just one of the neat ideas presented in the game. Others like the ability to turn corpses you ‘make’ through unaware attacks into ash. Very handy if you make lots of stealth kills. Developing the idea turns all corpses into ash no matter if they were aware of you killing them or not. Physically possessing someone is very cool. At first you can only possess animals like fish, rats, or dogs; giving you more options of movement, and possible points of entrance and escape. Developing the ability further allows you to control people and move around unmolested is handy when the time comes.

Imagine you’re about to be spotted by a guard. In games of the past you'd attempt escape, activate a distraction, or kill them before they come upon you. Now you simply take over, walk them somewhere else and leave them wondering what the fuck happened.

Once again another neat idea.

This game is all about the ideas. From a fresh IP and setting that’s presented with great fidelity, creative mechanics that are allowed to be used in as many creative ways, and abundant options in progression through the missions. Dishonoured is all about choice more then vengeance. I really like the way information is gathered. You hear things and certain information is logged in your mission files if it's pertinent. Wow... just by overhearing.

Speaking of overhearing, the game has some neat voice acting, some odd ball and interesting characters, great visuals and details across the various settings. Add in the responsive controls and creative abilities and you have a great game that earns a 4. I want to give the game a 5 but my issues, small as they are, are plentiful enough to move the marker.

The levels are short and in many places unforgiving unless you take the time to complete the side missions or explore. I’ve played the game all the way through on the hardest difficulty without killing anyone and the achievement has yet to materialise on my account. A one time glitch has ruined a almost perfect run and I’m not sure where so I feel like I’m forced to go back and redo the whole game again to get my score. Lame. Getting spotted by enemies through objects is frustrating.

I like the no stick stealth system and the organic feel to hiding. I understand the enemies getting longer and wider fields of vision on harder difficulty levels. I dislike suddenly alerting a guard on the street while I’m in the back room of a apartment building above said guard. It happens rarely but I dislike it so much that working the never get spotted achievement is more of a chore of saving and loading at times.

The fact the games tell you to save often to reload and avoid mistakes is not a good habit to enforce when the rest of the game is so organic in its core mechanics like stealth, choice, and movement.  

My largest issue with the game is the result from the neatest but poorest executed idea in the game; Chaos. If you cause a shit, leave piles of dead bodies and make choices that create unrest you develop chaos. This mechanic entices players to become more surgical in their efforts and avoid collateral damage.

The mechanic is brilliant during the game. The areas dynamically change. More guards, ‘weepers’ (infected citizens of Dunwall), graffiti, security measures, and changes in passing conversations are all well done. Going through the game I felt as if I was changing things through my actions. When I played the second time through, moving from hard to hardest in the difficulty settings, I noticed the differences in the levels as I worked to not create a single corpse. One whole level my first time was filled with ‘weepers’ while my low chaos pacifist had an easy walk through a colony of survivors eking a life in the bowels of the city.

It sucked when there are only two endings with no variation based on my actions outside of the chaos. I felt disappointed that this is where the game fell short after such a brilliant pair of plays. My other choices might have had a vissual reference but otherwise it was one end or the other end. The small choices had been represented so well before and yet right in the grand finish they become wattered down to high or low chaos (another acheivement I've not yet received)

The above coupled with the minor glitches forces me ever so much to drop the game from a 5 to a 4. Play this game, if you're a fan of the genre you'll love this game.  

Will I play Dishonoured 2? Fucking right I will. Until then Dishonoured is all I have and I’m very much glad for it.

Great first game and the future looks brighter because of it.