If there’s one thing Dishonored has done, it’s made me lose hope in the gaming industry.
Close to every time a bad game has been released, it has been given good reviews by the major review companies purely because it comes from a major developer/publisher. Dishonored received so many awards and positive reviews that I’ve begun to question whether these companies actually play the game or whether they’re given incentives for good reviews.
There was just so much wrong with the game that it’s taken me close to 4 months just to complete it. In fact the last few hours of the game were played in 20 minute segments because I’d either fall asleep or de-install the game from Steam in a rage. It’s not just the review companies though, gamers as a whole enjoyed it tremendously, heralded it as a beacon for stealth games. Am I just that cynical or am I just that hard to please? Granted this review will probably bring down upon my head more fury than if someone decided to make a sequel to Ninja Gaiden 3, but someone has to stand against this atrocity.
I remember stumbling across Dishonored on YouTube when I was looking at upcoming release and it looked rather good. I saw that Bethesda were involved and thought it would be another dust covered open world RPG, but something about the trailer gave me some hope. When the game popped up on Steam I quickly downloaded it and waited to be amazed. Within 5 minutes I was disappointed, was I playing some sort of Fable remake? I had to double-check that I hadn’t downloaded some sort of DLC for Fable 3 instead. I decided to give the game a chance though, I’d fallen for the trap of dismissing good games with bad starts before.
You play as Corvo Attano, a bodyguard to the Empress of a plague-ridden industrial cit–hang on I need to check this…no definitely not Fable 3. You’re framed for the murder of the Empress and have to escape the city through the sewers. If I may go off on a tangent here, can someone tell me whether there’s a clause in Bethesda’s contract that game’s must start in a sewer on underground? Why can’t we have a game whether the characters is enjoying a Sunday roast with the family before he’s attacked by a dragon or he’s sitting in an exam hall before being approached by an old man and being told he’s the saviour of humankind. I digress though, after fleeing through the sewers and being taught the basics of the game (nope, you’re not playing Oblivion) you’re met by a group of loyalists who wish to aide you in rescuing the kidnapped princess and restoring her to the throne. What follows are a series of missions where you eliminate members of the rebel hierarchy in a bid to find out who framed you and kidnapped the princess.
Well, now you know what the opening of the game is about let’s start tearing it to shreds. The first thing I notice about the combat and gameplay is that I’ve seen it before. It’s not just similar but exactly the same as other games. Remember holding a sword in one hand and casting magic with the other in Skyrim? Dishonored does. Remember having the option to either kill the target or reason with them in Human Revolution? Dishonored does. Remember the different alert levels in Assassin’s Creed? Dishonored does.
Granted, it may seem like I’m grasping at straws here, but it really hits you when you’re playing the game and performing an action to have a sense of déjà vu. I full expects at points for a dragon to appear over-head or to have the character whisper “I never asked for this” in a raspy voice. I’m not saying these game elements were implemented badly, but it did feel a tad cheap that something new wasn’t used.
If there’s a good thing that can be said about Dishonored, it’s that it uses the environment well. Unlike other stealth and even RPG games that only offer you one or two routes to complete each quest/mission, Dishonored offers you so many ways to continue ahead. It’s not just a simple “Well you can jump over the fence and knock the guard out and go through the door”, each section of the quest has multiple choices. For one mission I’d set rats on the guards and attack them using my arsenal of weapons, for another I’d distract them and quietly slip by them. It was this one thing perhaps that made me go back to the game each time and force myself to complete it. The Thief series were one of the few stealth series/games that worked and it seems Dishonored learnt a few things from them, but sadly not enough.
Just like how the gameplay reminded me of HR and Skyrim, the graphics reminded me of the fable series; in fact not just the graphics but the entire story-line. The way that all your decisions furthered you down the good or “chaos” paths had me wondering whether they’d just copied Fable 3 entirely. Whilst an argument can be made to defend the different endings I feel as if the build-up to them wasn’t good enough. It’s as if the team realised they’d not cooked the meat of the story enough and decided to serve all sorts of sides in a form of endings to hide it. In the last bit of the game so much was going on that I was completely lost, I had to get a notepad out just to work out who had betrayed me or who was dead. The epilogue didn’t even feel like one it was more of a “Thanks for the cash, cheerio” and for the price I paid for the game as I was severely disappoint by it all.
I could have had a lot more fun for the same experience if I’d just re-played Fable 3 whilst listening to Adam Jensen monologues and having the odd calls from Ezio to tell me that nothing is true and everything is permitted. I can’t understand why people enjoyed this game, I’m sure people will say “You just have no taste” and “You’re not a true RPG gamer” but the truth is, perhaps I’m not.
There are so many games out there now that are like Dishonored, both RPG and other genres that are following the same trend. It seems that developers and publishers and have seen that with games like CoD you don’t necessarily need to create a good game you just need to keep pushing them out until one of them sticks and then milk that baby dry. Perhaps I should cancel my pre-orders for The Last of Us and Tomb Raider and just stick to the few games I like, because if Dishonored is an omen for the future of gaming the future is definitely not bright nor is it Orange, it’s rather grey and looks a tad dusty.
What did you think of Dishonored? Share your thoughts below.
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This article was first posted on January 22, 2013