As it may be evident with other games in the "First Times" series, I have a mission to go out of my way to play specific games that people talk about for years. But Dishonored was a different story.
See, I woke up hearing the fantastic news that Skate 3 finally joined the list of backwards compatible games on the Xbox One and with that still ringing through my ears I purchased it and watched as it began to download. Growing impatient I booted up Dishonored: Definitive Edition with the intention of playing until Skate 3 finished.
Clearly that did not happen as I beat the game in one full sitting. It's not such a sad thought when you consider that I can write this now. As always, SPOILERS ARE INEVITABLE AND THIS ISN'T A REVIEW
First off and easily one of the best parts about the game is the main protagonist's name: Corvo Attano. What a beautiful badass name but that isn't the only beautiful thing in the game. The setting of Dunwall is beautiful in a weird way. I get that there is a plague that infests the city with rats running amok and infected citizens hiding away. Filthy, but it manages to make Dunwall feel alive. The grotesque and rundown nature of Dunwall provided me with a reason to open every book, read every letter, and listen to every conversation within the city. I was more enthralled with Dunwall as a character than the actual characters the game provides.
The story didn't grip me at first with the whole being framed for murder plot but as the hours ticked on I somehow managed to keep up and enjoy it. After I rescued Emily I knew some type of twist was inevitable it was just a matter of when. How did I predict a twist? Because everything was going swimmingly and nothing had come back to bite me in the butt. The Loyalists immediately put their trust and confidence in me, a man who is wanted for supposedly murdering the Empress, without hesitation or thinking twice. They tasked me with disposing of high ranking people to get Emily one step closer to her rightful throne and as soon as I returned from getting rid of the Lord Regent I noticed something had changed. Before and after missions, Samuel would often strike up a conversation with Corvo, giving me some useful tips and congratulating me on completing my objectives. But the boat ride back to the pub after getting rid of Lord Regent was dreadfully quiet and as soon as the Hound Pits pub was in sight, Samuel spoke up saying there would be a celebration for what I have done but he cannot attend due to other matters. I was expecting to walk in the pub and promptly knocked out by Havelock but instead I was poisoned and tossed away as the now villains got away. Perfect. What followed was a dumb trek back to the pub but not without going toe to toe with the assassin Daud, the real culprit behind the Empress' murder, and his clan. The final mission began and I was to climb to the top of the lighthouse to defeat Havelock and rescue Emily which is precisely what I accomplished. Happy ending.
I played the game primarily non-lethal and I managed to kill maybe 7 people total which still gave me the low chaos ending.
The level design works in tangent with the gameplay mechanics but I was not truly impressed by the level design as a whole. There was usually a somewhat non-linear path to get to the mission area which was primarily a big building. For the first few missions I was fine with this approach as it allowed me to explore Dunwall as well as complete optional objectives. But once I reached the mission area I was able to flex my stealth muscles fully. I would not have minded if for one target I had to follow them throughout the city while sticking to the rooftops or streets until I gained the upper hand and by waiting too long the target would eventually wind up in a mansion or someplace heavily guarded, making the mission much more difficult.
The masquerade ball mission is the only mission that stood out to me. I felt like I was one with the crowd and had to evade both them and the guards without giving myself away. Having to find clues on which of the sisters was my target as well as disabling security systems was surely a rush. I wound up talking to a guest who was in love with Lady Boyle (the target) and begged me not to kill her. Before I confronted Lady Boyle I came across the guest book and like a badass, I signed Corvo's name and walked away. I managed to sweet talk Lady Boyle for a private conversation in her room where I knocked her out, carried her down to the cellar, and watched as her and the lover left the area.
It was here that I had a thought to myself where I really wondered who this guy was and if I was really doing the right thing by not killing targets. His mask was disgusting, nothing fitting of nobility and as he took Lady Boyle away he spoke as if she was now his prisoner of sorts. It made me wonder, all of the targets I have gotten rid of so far, was it worth it? Is having them live in fear of someone else, or stuck working in the mines (Pendletons), are those worse than death?
Gameplay was serviceable with the multiple approaches to both combat and stealth but even in the face of battle I just blinked away until I could use stealth again, which was common with Daud's assassins. I wish the game implemented a crafting system because I was always in dire need of sleep darts. I hated how conservative I had to be with them towards the end but I guess that is my fault for not finding an upgrade for it, if there even was one. Even then, most of the tools Corvo acquired throughout the game seemed more geared towards a lethal playstyle. With nonlethal I only had the sleep darts, the chokehold, and whatever nonlethal opportunities appeared. Minimal at best but I made it work. Enemy AI was...bad. I could stare at them from across the hall and for some reason they would not see me. If I was spotted all I needed to do was run around the corner or hide under a table for a few seconds until they blamed the rats and walked away, even if there were no rats to be found.
Admittedly a lot shorter than other entries in the "First Times" series but this pretty much sums up my feelings with the game. I liked it but it has some small problems that I hope Arkane Studios fixes for Dishonored 2. Oh, and Skate 3 is still fantastic.