Candle Reviews: Dishonored

Dishonored

What do you get when you take the open level design of Bioshock, add in the stealth-based gameplay of Deus Ex, and center it all around a story filled with revenge? You get Dishonored, a first person action game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. You can easily see what influences other games have had on Dishonored's development by simply asking yourself what about it is original. I'm talking about mechanics such as unlocking special abilities and perks by finding hidden items scattered throughout the world and being able to avoid fights by finding an alternate means to achieve your goal.

One thing that does seem to be at least somewhat original, though, is the setting - until you take a closer look. Dishonored takes place within Dunwall, the plague-infested capital of an island empire in the middle of a great ocean. Sound familiar? No? Ok, how about this. The society and architecture seems to be based on Victorian England, but the technology far surpasses what was available during that period. If what I just described sounds a lot like steampunk to you, you would be right. For all intents and purposes, Dunwall is steampunk, though all that advanced technology is actually powered by whale oil.

Yes, whale oil. I know it sounds crazy, but for whatever reason (which is never fully explained), whales have some sort of supernatural quality in Dunwall that allows their oil to generate electric power, and for runes and charms carved from their bones to bestow almost magical powers on certain people. People like Corvo Attano, the player character, who have been branded by an indifferent, god-like figure known only as the "Outsider."

And that brings us to Dishonored's story. Again, it is riddled with clichés. Corvo is the personal bodyguard of the Empress, and has just returned to Dunwall from abroad, where he was looking for a cure to the rat plague which has been running rampant through the city. Just after arriving, though, and before Corvo has the chance to deliver his report - which almost certainly contained only bad news - the Empress is killed, and the princess is abducted. Who is blamed for the assassination? Why, it's none other than Corvo Attano, the "Lord Protector," himself. Not much of a protector is he? Maybe his title should have been "Lord Failure," instead?

After spending six months in prison for the Empress' death, Corvo is just a day away from his own execution when he escapes with the help of a group of people who believe he was innocent. From the safety of their base, the "Hound Pits Pub," they send Corvo out night after night on missions intended to destabilize the Lord Regent, the man who had ordered the hit on the Empress, and who now rules the empire in the stead of the missing princess until she is ready or willing to be his puppet.

Invariably, Corvo's missions are to assassinate some key supporter of the Lord Regent, but here's where things get interesting. There is no "right" way to play the game. Dishonored is structured and each level is carefully designed so that people can play how they want. Want to bum-rush the first set of guards you see and lay waste to everything around you with your pistol and sword? Go right ahead. After all, Corvo was the Lord Protector, so he can go up against all but the largest gangs with no problem. Would you prefer to hide in the shadows and be the silent angel of death? With spells like Blink and Slow Time, they will never see you coming. What's that? You want to use the rats in the streets as your spies and assassins? There are spells for that, too. No matter what your preferred style of play is, Dishonored has something to draw you in.

And the concept of there being no right way to play goes beyond simple abilities. There are straightforward paths to your target as well as multiple hidden paths that are sometimes so obtuse, you might have no idea how to get there without a guide of some sort. There is also always a nonlethal way to deal with your targets if the idea of straight up revenge isn't your thing.

There is one mechanic, though, that seems to belie the very idea of playing however you want - the Chaos meter. At the end of each mission, a short scorecard will come on screen to tell you how many people you killed, whether or not you were seen, if you missed any collectibles, and so on. Just below the ticker for your kills is the Chaos meter. Based on your actions throughout the game, it will say if your Chaos is high or low. What this actually is telling you is if there will be more rats and guards in the next level. This almost seems to imply that the "correct" way to play Dishonored is sneaking around and killing as few people as possible.

Despite this small flaw and Dishonored's seeming lack of originality, it is a damn fun game. Quite often, I found myself flitting between both balls-to-the-walls action and sneaky stealth as I explored every nook and cranny of each level to discover everything I could. Sometimes I would go straight in for the kill, and other times I would plan it all out. It was this kind of freedom and all the character that went into the level design that really drew me in and kept my attention. Not even an inopportune autosave or the incredibly long load times were enough to dissuade me from coming back every time I died to see what I could do differently.

Game: Dishonored
Developer/Publisher: Arkane Studios, Bethesda Softworks
Platform: PS3, 360, PC
Genre: FPS, Stealth, Action
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Reviewer: Michael "candle" Mazzaferri
Score: 4/5

Note: This review was based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game. Any differences between consoles should be minor and inconsequential to play.

Very solid review! Really want to get this game, but I dunno if it's worth the whole £40. Hmm. I'll have to really think about it.

Really love your username btw^^;;.

candle:

There is one mechanic, though, that seems to belie the very idea of playing however you want - the Chaos meter. At the end of each mission, a short scorecard will come on screen to tell you how many people you killed, whether or not you were seen, if you missed any collectibles, and so on. Just below the ticker for your kills is the Chaos meter. Based on your actions throughout the game, it will say if your Chaos is high or low. What this actually is telling you is if there will be more rats and guards in the next level. This almost seems to imply that the "correct" way to play Dishonored is sneaking around and killing as few people as possible.

Not necessarily. Do you know how much fun it is to lure guards into a crowd of weepers?

Pardon but:

candle:
Long load times

I play on a 5 year old PC with a 7 year old HDD, load times were very short.

I don't understand why you put a transcript of the video review up.

Kellogs Fried Chickn:
Pardon but:

candle:
Long load times

I play on a 5 year old PC with a 7 year old HDD, load times were very short.

I don't understand why you put a transcript of the video review up.

... PS3 which is essencially a 6 year old pc, with less reliance on efficient hard drive infrastructure, and more of a reliance on information being read and off of a disc and temporarily chached to save space on the limited hard drive disc, which tends to be why most games that are on pc and consoles, will load more slowly on consoles than PCs, which if you honestly don't mind, tends not to bother most people on consoles who play games.

I'm a PC gamer mainly, but have used consoles in the past, I prefer PC, but I also see why some prefer consoles, to each their own.

BlueberryMUNCH:
Very solid review! Really want to get this game, but I dunno if it's worth the whole £40. Hmm. I'll have to really think about it.

Really love your username btw^^;;.

I'd say if you're unsure, either rent it first or borrow it from a friend.

deathbydeath:

candle:

There is one mechanic, though, that seems to belie the very idea of playing however you want - the Chaos meter. At the end of each mission, a short scorecard will come on screen to tell you how many people you killed, whether or not you were seen, if you missed any collectibles, and so on. Just below the ticker for your kills is the Chaos meter. Based on your actions throughout the game, it will say if your Chaos is high or low. What this actually is telling you is if there will be more rats and guards in the next level. This almost seems to imply that the "correct" way to play Dishonored is sneaking around and killing as few people as possible.

Not necessarily. Do you know how much fun it is to lure guards into a crowd of weepers?

And this is just one more example of being able to play the game however you want. Suffice it to say though, that if you go in for the fight all the time, those fights will get harder as you progress through the game since there end up being more enemies. On the otherside, it can be really annoying when you are out of ammo and keep getting killed when you go in with the sword.

Kellogs Fried Chickn:
Pardon but:

candle:
Long load times

I play on a 5 year old PC with a 7 year old HDD, load times were very short.

I don't understand why you put a transcript of the video review up.

I played Dishonored on the PS3 and don't have it for any other system, so it's possible that the long load times (which were quite often over a minute for me) were only on that system. With Skyrim for the PC, I have very short load times, but I hear people complain about them all the time on other systems.

As for the transcript, some people prefer to watch the video, while others prefer to read it.

My one problem with Dishonored is that there simply isn't enough of it.

deathbydeath:

candle:

There is one mechanic, though, that seems to belie the very idea of playing however you want - the Chaos meter. At the end of each mission, a short scorecard will come on screen to tell you how many people you killed, whether or not you were seen, if you missed any collectibles, and so on. Just below the ticker for your kills is the Chaos meter. Based on your actions throughout the game, it will say if your Chaos is high or low. What this actually is telling you is if there will be more rats and guards in the next level. This almost seems to imply that the "correct" way to play Dishonored is sneaking around and killing as few people as possible.

Not necessarily. Do you know how much fun it is to lure guards into a crowd of weepers?

Is it as fun as luring them into a nest of River Krusts?

Good review. Your review would be helpful in informing those who are in the dark about the game. I would have personally preferred you included more personal experience, more detail on how it plays and less summation of the "dry details" of the game. Less general information and more specific, detailed information on how it plays and how well its mechanics work together, than just a general overview. But that's just my tastes; not to mention, I've already beaten the game, so obviously I'd be less interested in general information on Dishonored.

"I think I hear the nitpick train coming into the station."

candle:

And that brings us to Dishonored's story. where he was looking for a cure to the rat plague which has been running rampant through the city. Just after arriving, though, and before Corvo has the chance to deliver his report - which almost certainly contained only bad news - the Empress is killed, and the princess is abducted.

I could be wrong, but:

I believe Corvo does successfully deliver his message. I remember the Empress reading it and she says something along the lines of it being bad news. Also, I believe the purpose for Corvo's journey was to ask the other three island sovereignty's for assistance in dealing with the plague, not specifically a cure. But both my who-really-cares? "points" are debatable. Asking for assistance is close enough to a cure, and I'm sure searching for a cure was not off of Corvo's radar. And delivering a report to an Empress who dies 60 seconds later could be argued as not having the chance to deliver his report.

candle:

Kellogs Fried Chickn:
Pardon but:

candle:
Long load times

I play on a 5 year old PC with a 7 year old HDD, load times were very short.

I don't understand why you put a transcript of the video review up.

I played Dishonored on the PS3 and don't have it for any other system, so it's possible that the long load times (which were quite often over a minute for me) were only on that system. With Skyrim for the PC, I have very short load times, but I hear people complain about them all the time on other systems.

As for the transcript, some people prefer to watch the video, while others prefer to read it.

Okay then.
Doing a video review, try to note the system it's being reviewed on. Even when it's not a multiplatform title the availability is something most potential buyers would want to know early.

While there are people who want the availability of a transcript - which is a minority but should not be ignored, especially when you already prepare one for the video - you are presenting essentially duplicate information as being equally important. I'd suggest the use of a [spoiler="Transcript/Written"] tag. Decreasing the body size and creating the transcript separator will also allow to display the game information and post-review notes more clearly.

While I like mechanics based reviews I feel like the game's atmosphere and art direction should be more than noteworthy, yet absent here.

Will you be doing a review of Mark of the Ninja?

Kellogs Fried Chickn:

candle:

Kellogs Fried Chickn:
Pardon but:
I play on a 5 year old PC with a 7 year old HDD, load times were very short.

I don't understand why you put a transcript of the video review up.

I played Dishonored on the PS3 and don't have it for any other system, so it's possible that the long load times (which were quite often over a minute for me) were only on that system. With Skyrim for the PC, I have very short load times, but I hear people complain about them all the time on other systems.

As for the transcript, some people prefer to watch the video, while others prefer to read it.

Okay then.
Doing a video review, try to note the system it's being reviewed on. Even when it's not a multiplatform title the availability is something most potential buyers would want to know early.

While there are people who want the availability of a transcript - which is a minority but should not be ignored, especially when you already prepare one for the video - you are presenting essentially duplicate information as being equally important. I'd suggest the use of a [spoiler="Transcript/Written"] tag. Decreasing the body size and creating the transcript separator will also allow to display the game information and post-review notes more clearly.

While I like mechanics based reviews I feel like the game's atmosphere and art direction should be more than noteworthy, yet absent here.

Will you be doing a review of Mark of the Ninja?

It's specified at the bottom of the intial post as well as in the description of the video on the YouTube page that the copy that was reviewed was on the PS3. As for Mark of the Ninja, it's kinda been completely off my radar, so I may eventualy do it in the future, but that is unlikely.

candle:

Kellogs Fried Chickn:
*bawk?*

It's specified at the bottom of the intial post as well as in the description of the video on the YouTube page that the copy that was reviewed was on the PS3. As for Mark of the Ninja, it's kinda been completely off my radar, so I may eventualy do it in the future, but that is unlikely.

Okay, due to the text being irritatingly irrelevant to me I dismissed all of it, not noticing the game info and the tiny note. Neither was mentioned in the video.

Presenting 'slow load times' as one of the negatives is neither 'minor' nor 'inconsequential' as you claim in the quote. I asked my supplier how long it takes him to boot up, slightly newer computer, slightly weaker, overall, close to mine.
Area Load same area from save: under 5 seconds, which sounds about right.
And I don't know what problems the PS3 has, but the PC version has manual saving, which you can do very liberally.

candle:

Dishonored


Game: Dishonored
Developer/Publisher: Arkane Studios, Bethesda Softworks
Platform: PS3, 360, PC
Genre: FPS, Stealth, Action
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Reviewer: Michael "candle" Mazzaferri
Score: 4/5

Note: This review was based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
Any differences between consoles should be minor and inconsequential to play.

would help a lot

I enjoyed watching the review, well done.

If I might give some pointers for the video:


    • Consider using ingame footage. (I understand that you may have financial issues over this, just a suggestion)
    • If you can, fix the few spots where you seemed to stutter or slow for a few seconds. There were very few of these, but when they happened, it seemed to break the flow.
    • Keep doing a good job. =3

Again, I enjoyed watching it, and I may watch some more in the future. The review though was really informative, which I highly liked, as some reviews don't really go into those certain details like the Chaos meter.

Do you do any reviews on the PC at all, or do you just do it through the PS3?

Kellogs Fried Chickn:

Okay, due to the text being irritatingly irrelevant to me I dismissed all of it, not noticing the game info and the tiny note. Neither was mentioned in the video.

Presenting 'slow load times' as one of the negatives is neither 'minor' nor 'inconsequential' as you claim in the quote. I asked my supplier how long it takes him to boot up, slightly newer computer, slightly weaker, overall, close to mine.
Area Load same area from save: under 5 seconds, which sounds about right.
And I don't know what problems the PS3 has, but the PC version has manual saving, which you can do very liberally.

While that information may not be in the video itself, it is in the description below the video on the youtube page. As for whether or not long load times is minor or inconsequential, when you are playing a game that you enjoy a lot, those long load times don't really matter since you know you'll sit through them in order to keep playing. In that way, they are nothing more than a minor inconvenience. I don't know why the PS3 load times are longer than on PC, but it does have manual saving. Loading from those rather than standard area loads or autosave loads doesn't get you to playing any faster.

Mourne:
I enjoyed watching the review, well done.

If I might give some pointers for the video:


    • Consider using ingame footage. (I understand that you may have financial issues over this, just a suggestion)
    • If you can, fix the few spots where you seemed to stutter or slow for a few seconds. There were very few of these, but when they happened, it seemed to break the flow.
    • Keep doing a good job. =3

Again, I enjoyed watching it, and I may watch some more in the future. The review though was really informative, which I highly liked, as some reviews don't really go into those certain details like the Chaos meter.

Do you do any reviews on the PC at all, or do you just do it through the PS3?

Thanks for the pointers. I have used ingame footage in the past for the only two reviews I did previous to this, but it was a hassle sorting through a ton of raw footage to find relevant clips that were only a few seconds long, so I mostly just crammed it all in there with no regard to what was being talked about. I switched to pictures for this one so I didn't have to do that, but I may do a bit of a hybrid in the future, using a few short clips but mostly pictures. As for the bits where I slow down or stumble, that would be because I didn't do enough takes when recording the audio. :x

I plan to do reviews on all major systems, but as this was my third review, my only past two were FFXIII-2 (done on the PS3) and Anna (PC).

fuzzy logic:
Good review. Your review would be helpful in informing those who are in the dark about the game. I would have personally preferred you included more personal experience, more detail on how it plays and less summation of the "dry details" of the game. Less general information and more specific, detailed information on how it plays and how well its mechanics work together, than just a general overview. But that's just my tastes; not to mention, I've already beaten the game, so obviously I'd be less interested in general information on Dishonored.

"I think I hear the nitpick train coming into the station."

candle:

And that brings us to Dishonored's story. where he was looking for a cure to the rat plague which has been running rampant through the city. Just after arriving, though, and before Corvo has the chance to deliver his report - which almost certainly contained only bad news - the Empress is killed, and the princess is abducted.

I could be wrong, but:

I believe Corvo does successfully deliver his message. I remember the Empress reading it and she says something along the lines of it being bad news. Also, I believe the purpose for Corvo's journey was to ask the other three island sovereignty's for assistance in dealing with the plague, not specifically a cure. But both my who-really-cares? "points" are debatable. Asking for assistance is close enough to a cure, and I'm sure searching for a cure was not off of Corvo's radar. And delivering a report to an Empress who dies 60 seconds later could be argued as not having the chance to deliver his report.

Bad news = foreign country is gonna blockade them to make sure no plagued ships gets out.

The empress sent for help.

Its not just returning with the bad news that there is no help, its returning with the bad news that they are actively preventing help xD

And before anyone calls it spoilers, this is like. The first minute of the game, and it does not spoil anything.

 

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