“Corvo, if only there was someone else I trusted to send, so that you could remain near. But there is no one else, and the Spymaster was right to insist that I send you. The plague has taken so many and we must find a cure. When you are near, my heart is at peace.”
Dishonored is a first-person stealth action adventure video game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.
Corvo Attano, infamous Lord Protector (bodyguard) to the Empress Jessamine Kaldwin of Dunwall, returns from a diplomatic voyage to seek aid from neighboring countries in dealing with a deadly plague that now ravages the once proud city. While delivering his report to the Empress, they are attacked by assassins who manage to restrain Corvo long enough to murder Jessamine and abduct her daughter Emily. As Jessamine draws her last breath the Spymaster arrives and immediately imprisons Corvo for the crime.
Six months have passed and the Spymaster has seized control of Dunwall as Lord Regent. Locked within Coldridge Prison, Corvo is tortured daily for a confession to the assassination of the Empress. The night before Corvo’s public execution the Lord Regent reveals that it was actually he who masterminded the coup, that Corvo’s presence there was a convenient scapegoat. Dismissed and returned to his cell, Corvo is smuggled a letter from loyalists to the Empire and given the means to escape. Following his escape he is ferried to the Hound Pits Pub by a man named Samuel to meet the loyalists, led by Admiral Havelock.
Aided by the Loyalists (a resistance group fighting to reclaim the Empire) and the Outsider (a powerful enigmatic being who imbues him with magical abilities); Corvo is sent to eliminate the conspirators behind the Lord Regent’s plot by lethal or nonlethal means and to find Emily, rightful heir to the throne.
The game’s world is a series of independent, mission-based sandboxes designed for multiple tactical options in terms of in-game movement and powers, with an emphasis on player’s choice. Missions can be completed through stealth, combat or a combination of both. Exploring each level is highly recommended as it might open new paths or alternatives for accomplishing mission goals. Magical abilities and equipment can be combined to create new and varied effects.
Between missions the player is taken back to the Hound Pits pub, a central hub. At the pub and within the immediate surrounding areas Corvo can meet with and investigate his allies, receive mission briefings, side missions, and purchase new equipment/upgrades. My favorite upgrade allows for sleep darts to affect a target while in combat, making it much easier to proceed through each mission without killing anyone.
It is possible to complete all missions, eliminating all of Corvo's targets, in a non-lethal manner. The story and missions are altered based on violent actions, or lack thereof, committed by the player. Non-lethal actions are rewarded more so than lethal actions, but actions committed by the player are not judged to be of a good or evil morality. The player’s actions are instead tracked by a "chaos" system that records how much collateral damage, violent actions and deaths are caused by Corvo. The game world is modified by how much chaos is caused, affecting story decisions while not punishing the player or forcing them to choose one style of play over another. The game reacts to the chaos caused in scripted ways (dialog) and dynamic ways (increasing the presence of rats and plagued citizens, adding new scenes). The chaos level also influences the two game endings obtainable, with variations based on which characters live or die.
I have always been partial to stealth action games; I prefer to see my enemy before they see me and proceed at my own discretion with little to no struggle. Dishonored is a great game for players who love to challenge themselves and leaves little to be desired in terms of gameplay and environmental execution. The plot and lore are very intriguing, but a great deal of it had to be gleaned from reading books and documents spread throughout the game, which could get tiresome. I enjoyed what I was able to experience and recover so much; I was left at the end wanting more. I enjoyed myself and I can honestly say I am very interested to see if they will indeed turn this into a series in order to flesh out the characters more deeply and allow us to revisit this dark and intriguing world.
Check out The First 60 Minutes of Dishonored!