In an industry full to the brim with sequels and prequels, new IPs are a scarce commodity, especially those with a unique take on the action/RPG genre. Dishonored, developed by Arkane Studios, who brought us the well-acclaimed Arx Fatalis, sees the player as Corvo, a skillful bodyguard turned assassin out for vengeance, having been framed for the murder of the Empress. Utilizing a crossbow, a sword and an array of supernatural skills including human/animal possession and short-range teleportation, Corvo must help instate the rightful heir onto the throne and bring down the authoritarian, self-serving regime.
The tale takes place in Dunwall, which can only be described as a steampunk fan’s wet dream where whale oil is the main source of energy and huge whaling ships occupy the city’s waterways. Highly influenced by Victorian architecture, the city is overrun by a gruesome plague claiming it’s citizens, and the new regime, out to protect itself and its wealthy supporters, use what little advanced technology there is to keep the poor and diseased locked away, and left to fester.
The selection of magical skills allow one to mix and match to great delight and approach each level in a plethora of different ways, whether that be remaining unseen or slipping into a murder spree. The environments also allow for a level of verticality that one rarely sees, and there’s basic but solid upgrade and collectible systems.
Aside from arsenal of skills at the player’s disposal, the setting, intriguing it its uniqueness, is likely to be the main appeal of Dishonored. The story is competent and fun, though the character writing and voice acting leave a little to be desired and feel as though they fell short of their full potential. Regardless, Dishonored is one of the most interesting games of the year so far, and well worth a try if you like open gameplay with a narrative that breaks free from the norms of games writing.
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