Dishonored is done. About 16 hours worth of a casual first playthrough. What I find fascinating is how my 2nd playthrough is more interesting than my 1st. I am finding new hidden objectives, new paths, new uses for my powers, and am enjoying the higher difficulty setting more. The game also makes a large number of concessions for those who want to do a non-lethal run, which is a thrilling challenge.
So the game is fun. Does it compare to its inspirations? I think that depends on what you are looking for. The story isn’t very developed. Your character, despite being a silent protagonist, is probably the most interesting of the bunch. Everyone else gets forced into quick and dirty character development often having characters come to some unprecedented conclusions and motivations. One mysterious character also was pretty much given very little explanation outside your random encounters with him. There seemed like a legit story there until it never materializes.
Despite the buzz words being tossed around, this is not like Deus Ex or Bioshock. It doesn’t however need to be. This is a new breed in the genre. Each mission area is a tight meal with many delicious bites based on your hunger level. You can blow through a mission rather quickly if you so desire.This game divorces the unique gameplay aspects of other similar games from most of their inherent RPG and story elements. The result is a funhouse. ie:
There is a call for you to master the world of dishonored by being a skilled and engaged player. Sure you can always find a way around doing that, but for people who want to exorcize their ‘skillz’ while blaring dubstep obnoxiously and downing energy drinks…. now you can. Its not just for the 1337 though. No, the rest of us can feel that in this game : gameplay matters. Dishonored gives you room to play around, and doesn’t really beat you over the head with it either. Its player directed behaviour with a lot of interesting outcomes.
That said I am not sure whether I will fondly remember the world of ‘Dunwall’ the same way I have fondly remembered other game worlds. While the lore at times follows through beyond its influences (Bioshock, Half Life 2) it still seems a little too familiar. Awkwardly so when you discover assets that you cannot distinguish from those in Half Life 2. Really, I am not kidding. I give them props for merging a 19th century aesthetic in there, and the visuals do sometimes take on a charming hand painted vibe. (Sometimes)
Overall however I felt like the world felt a little off to me. I suppose this is largely subjective though.
A game with a similar aesthetic I did enjoy was Arcanum. I kept thinking back to that game actually, and really want to play it again.
Despite all this, I think the game is pretty fresh in a lot of ways. It takes elements of games I love, and makes it its own thing. I can’t get the same satisfaction from playing other games in the genre. If I want the fast paced action/exploration/stealth this game is it.