Big promises were made, have they been kept?
Is impossible not to be excited for a game like dishonored; but it is also impossible not to wonder if all the huge hype that preceded was only a way to create expectations on a new gameplay mechanic that actually would not have been as promised. Luckily this didn’t happen, more or less. But let’s start from the beginning.
In the shoes of Corvo Attano your task is to avenge the murder of the Empress of which you, his bodyguard, have been falsely accused. While at the same time seek justice and the truth; in the city of Dunwall. A city of victorian aspects invaded by a rampant plague carried by rats and with an innovative technology based on whale oil and its use as a fuel. Freed just before the execution by a group of anarchists you’ll be able to use weapons and special powers to make your way towards freedom. With the very first power you’ll be able to teleport for short distances from one cover to another or from one roof to another. Going forward you will be able to acquire new powers and weapons, selectable from a radial menù, while you will always be able to rely on a blade, if something should go wrong. In the city are scattered runes and bone charms that will improve the powers and will allow to choose our own play-stile. Here comes the innovative aspect of Dishonored.
Throughout the game and each mission can be played in any way you want. You can decide not to kill a single person in the whole game, even with non-lethal options for each of your targets, or you can decide to unleash death in person throughout Dunwall. Every action has its consequences later on, so if you do not kill anyone, no guards hasten and then the guards will be less alert, on the contrary if you start to sow the dead guards will be more numerous and careful knowing that there is a lethal assassin out there.
Here comes the fact that the game has been presented as a revolution in the system of morality in video games, saying that this time the game will not judge the player for his choices. This is true but a step further would be possible. In addition to the short-term consequences the game has two possible endings depending on the overall behavior and the number of kills; a happy ending and a “punitive” final. Playing completely stealth and not killing anybody the happy ending is assured; the problem is that if you played in the most entertaining way possible, i.e. a combination of stealth, action and some spectacular murder, the end is likely to be unfortunate if you exceeded a certain number of kills. Of course, this, coupled with the characteristic of a free gameplay, is an obvious invitation to restart the game several times to see all the possible alternatives, and in the end, and in dealing with the various missions and targets.
It is inevitable that the effort to create a game without constraints has led to a story that can not keep up with the widely and well developed city, and a meager character and folklore development that feeds this new world. But one problem remains, the game is still trying to direct my actions so that I choose the ending I prefer. I don’t want black or white, good or evil. For once I would like to see a gray final, so that my actions, which will never be totally good or totally bad, could find their place. Without having to choose between one extreme or the other.
This new mechanism is certainly innovative and we very much hope that it may be a new starting point for future works to revolutionize the gameplay and bring the gaming experience to a new level.
It’s certainly started a new journey that I am sure will lead to new heights in the industry of video games; remains to be done to develop a completely free system, but this is definitely a great start, hoping to be accepted and recognized by all and not considered as a mere exercise in style, an end in itself. One day, perhaps, we might look back and say, it all started here.
+ Great world, vivid setting
+ You will continue to come back and see all the possibilities
+ Complete freedom…
– …as long as the game presents you with only a good or a bad ending
– Story does not live up