Dishonored Impressions

Dishonored‘s premise is as simple as it gets. Corvo, the empress’ bodyguard, gets framed as her murderer as part of a plot to take over the throne. In the process, the empress’ daughter gets kidnapped. Now he’s out to save the girl, avenge the empress and clear his name.

The game at first blush was far from that for me. Struggling to grasp the game’s systems early on, I fumbled my way through the first mission; killing everyone in my path. Despite eventually completing the mission, the game’s heavy hand on leading you towards the stealthy route sure made me feel like a failure. Having killed 14 bodies in cold blood and the chaos level on high due to those actions, I feared that this wasn’t going to get any better.

I heavily contemplated dropping the game completely at this point, though things would start to turn around within a blink. Well, with the Blink maneuver that Corvo learns early on. With it, he can warp short distances, which opens up his movement options dramatically while addressing some of the things I struggled with before. Instead of constantly feeling underpowered with no other option but to fight head on, I could simply warp in, choke out a guy, then warp out before anyone noticed.

Adding to that sense of power is how the game gives you more weapons while being a bit more lenient with the amount of dead bodies you can leave in your wake. Though I wasn’t afraid to kill when it was convenient for me, my next few missions showed that I still kept the chaos level down. Stealth perfectionists will still get rewarded for ‘ghost’ runs, though I’m fine with the game not punishing me for my particular play style.

Understanding its level structure took a bit of time to understand, too. You’ll flip between missions in the open world of Dunwall and your home base at the Hound Pits Pub. While the levels are presented in a linear fashion, many of the missions are very open in nature. You have many different ways to approach each level and many missions have branching paths that can wildly change the outcome of your journey. Considering the fact that this is a Bethesda-published game built on what appears to be the Skyrim engine, it’s no wonder that openness is a commonality they share.

Unfortunately, I would eventually end up dropping Dishonored. My issues with feeling like I was playing the game wrong combined with a tough segment where stealth is the preferred way to go eventually drove me away. I could have also dropped the difficulty, but I had my fill at that point. The game has been sold as one you can play as an action game or a stealth game, though it’s really not built that way. It was fun while it lasted, though for someone like me whose tolerance for stealth gameplay is low, this ultimately burned out before completion.

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