Dishonored 2-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - February 25, 2014
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Dishonored is an action-adventure game and actually does a very good job with the adventure part. The world is not as big as some games, but on your way to some missions, you could easily get lost doing other things for half an hour or more. Even the main missions allow for a fair amount of adventuring as there are many paths to your goals. Of course there is the direct path that will have you slicing your way through your opponents, but there are other paths that allow for some secrecy, either to avoid enemies altogether, or eliminate them in the most efficient way.
Helping you explore the world and complete your missions are a variety of weapons and powers. The weapons include a pistol, a crossbow, and a mine that will throw up razor sharp shrapnel, shredding whoever comes across it. All of these can be upgraded in one way or another, and the crossbow also features different kinds of ammunition, including sleep darts, which can be very useful if you are trying for the non-lethal route.
The powers are even more varied, as some are more utilitarian or offensive in nature. The Blink ability would definitely be utilitarian, as it allows you to get to otherwise unreachable places. Summoning a swarm of rats to devour your enemies is obviously offensive, but the rats will also consume bodies, thus preventing enemies from finding them and growing suspicious.
One thing that is definitely nice about all of the abilities is how your mana works. When you execute an ability like Blink, which has a low mana requirement, you lose a chunk of your mana, but it will actually regenerate pretty quickly. After a moment you will return to the mana level you had before Blinking, unless you activate it again too soon, or use another ability. This cuts off the regeneration early, and you will not get back all of what was used. It is worth noting that some abilities have a high mana requirement and you will not regenerate all of that.
To unlock and upgrade your abilities you need to find Runes with The Outsider's mark on them. These do put out a telltale sound, but the most efficient way to find them is with a heart The Outsider gave you. Yes, at times you will be walking around holding a heart in your hand, and if you activate it, it will actually tell you about your current setting, the person you have it aimed at, and maybe even itself. One thing that disappointed me was that other characters never react to this and ask where you got it, or the tattoo needed to wield your powers.
When you get used to your powers and weapons, you will find Corvo can be a very effective killing machine, but that does not mean he is invincible. You will die to large numbers of enemies if you are not prepared, so either avoid large groups or run.
Another collectible type is the Bone Shard, which offer specific effects, such as improved health from eating food or an increased likelihood of enemies missing their shots. These are located with the heart, like Runes.
A fairly useful mechanic is the ability to rewire certain devices. For example, a watch tower with a rocket launcher can be made to shoot your enemies instead of you. There are other, equally useful weapons you can turn on your enemies, but this is the most entertaining. Sadly the developers did not make NPCs respond to it very well. I mean it does not make sense that your enemies start yelling about what they will do when they find you, when they have neither seen nor heard you.
Another piece of technology you can turn on your enemies is the Wall of Light, which will incinerate anyone but your enemies when they walk through. Despite this though, your enemies will never actually walk through them. This makes rewiring them a waste in my mind, because the only way they will kill anything for you is if you grab their attention and get them to chase you through it. Considering you have to be stealthy and avoid raising the alarm to rewire these things, it seems silly to require you to jump out to make it worth the effort. To be honest though, considering other aspects of the game, this is not as surprising as it should be.
Simply put, the stealth in this game is mediocre at its very best and averages more at inconsistent and poorly implemented. The basic stealth mechanic of crouching is the same as what you find in many other titles, but those other titles are not described as stealth games by any stretch. Such a mechanic is more in place so you can get around specific threats to take up a more strategic position, and not to actually creep around a game, avoiding threats. For that you would require some kind of appreciation of sight and hearing, and Dishonored lacks that.
During my playthrough, I was careful to silently take out an enemy who was alone on an elevated porch with a stone border around it. For whatever reason the game decided that another enemy, in an adjacent building should respond to my action by running out of the building, through a doorway, and up two and a half flights of stairs to reach the unconscious body. All told I would put it at a minimum of a hundred feet the guard had to run after hearing a sound at least thirty feet away, through a wall. However, later on when I deliberately make noise on the other side of a door from two enemies, they will not even open it. I had to make a noise twice to get them to move. Throwing and breaking bottles has a similar non-effect.
The vision of enemies is equally inconsistent, as plenty of times they would look directly at me, in daylight, while I am crouched on some platform above them, and behave as though nothing were there. I am wearing the mask of the assassin wanted for the disappearance and deaths of numerous people, and they just turn away. If you are crouched behind a barrier and lean to the side you are again invisible, despite the fact that to be leaned that far should have your entire torso exposed.
In other situations though, an enemy down the street will become suspicious or will spot me crouched in a shadow from at least ten feet away and become alerted. Also, using abilities in front of people, which could mean you have teleported across the map or spontaneously formed out of the creature you possessed, does not necessarily warrant a response from them more than exclaiming, "black magic"'
With all of that said, Dishonored still offers a fun and very enjoyable action-adventure experience; just not a positive stealth experience. One way to put it is that I will never refer to as a stealth game because it just does too bad a job of it. (Perhaps if there is a sequel the developers could do a better job of it.)
To complete the campaign, every side quest I came across, find every Rune and Bone Shard collectible I could, and make the non-lethal choices concerning my targets took me fifteen hours of gameplay. For an action-adventure title, that is actually pretty good, as I have gotten use to those being more around ten hours. Of course some time was added to that by my exploring and reloading. I would estimate a more direct run through would be around thirteen hours, which is still pretty good.
Of course with the multiple endings, there is some replayability to Dishonored, but I will not be replaying it. It never really grabbed me enough to make me want to complete it all over again with different choices. Also it does not offer any kind of New Game+ mode. All of those abilities and items you have picked up while playing cannot be brought back to earlier missions. You will just have what you had then. I must admit, I am disappointed by that as experimenting with your late-game abilities in the earlier missions could have been a lot of fun.
I should also mention that there have been three pieces of DLC released for Dishonored. One just gives you challenge maps while two have you playing as Daud, the real assassin of the empress. I put about ninety minutes into the Knife of Dunwall before I stopped playing it, because I was just not enjoying it much. Partly this could be because the difficulty felt off to me. It felt like the difficulty I was getting in late-middle of the main game at Normal difficulty, but Daud is considerably less powerful than Corvo is at that time, making the challenge much greater. Also having just played as a well-equipped and upgraded Corvo and going to the relatively green Daud is not much fun. There was nothing to show for my efforts in the base game, or the fact that Daud is a master assassin and has been for some time. Seriously, you would think that such an experienced assassin would be better equipped and more powerful than he is when you start that DLC.