Dishonored a Great Stealth Game with a Multitude of Options
by Logan Guenther
In light of the release of Dishonored 2, it is time to take a look back at the classics and review something that should have left a far greater impact than it did.
The original Dishonored, developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda, is a stealth game where you play as Corvo, the bodyguard to the Empress of Dunwall. The game begins with Corvo returning from an expedition to request aid from a neighboring country to help with the Rat Plague, an epidemic that has been destroying the population of Dunwall. Upon arrival, a group of assassins arrive and murder the empress with Corvo unable to help. After the assassins disappear, all that is left is Corvo and the body of the Empress. Corvo is blamed for the assassination, and thrown in jail.
After being thrown in jail, Corvo breaks out and allies himself with a group that calls themselves the Loyalists, who oppose the new regime that came to power after the death of the Empress. As a fugitive, the rest of the game consists of Corvo being sent to different locations to assassinate political figures, kidnap some people, and steal just about everything that isn’t nailed down in a quest for vengeance and justice in order to be re-honored.
The game’s characters are extremely stylized, looking very similar to the Bioshock games with exaggerated proportions and expressions. The varying areas of Dunwall consist of everything from depraved slums to luxurious mansions, from decadent bathhouses to quarantined districts. The outside is almost always very bleak; nearly every building has at least two or three boarded up doors. Nobody can be seen outside besides guards and infected civilians, which is a testament to the dying country of Dunwall. The game’s aesthetic draws more from Bioshock by making the games themes and action contrast with the often cartoony visuals by being dark and deep, giving a brilliant sense of disillusionment. “The story and environments were pretty cool. I liked how it went from a city to a plague ward to this assassins hideout; it was very varied, and it just made it awesome,” said junior Brian Thebau.
However, the gameplay of Dishonored is the focal point of the game. The game shows a lot of similarities with the Thief games, by discouraging murdering everyone you see, offering many tools at your disposal, and emphasizing staying unseen at all costs. Dishonored is one of a kind in its genre, having every map be more than a journey from point A to point B on a one way road. Every mission has multiple ways to approach the objective — whether you glide along the rooftops, sneak through alleyways, or stab your way through everyone, the game welcomes every solution, as long as it reaches your objective. “You could kill every single person, or you could touch no one. There were multiple pathways to travel through, and the environments were very open and you could do basically anything you wanted with the games confines,” said Thebau.
This makes the game extremely unique among all games, and is a hallmark of all great stealth games. Whenever you encounter an enemy, you have three options: kill him, choke him, or ignore them entirely. Every option is viable and have different advantages and disadvantages, and that is the beauty of it. The game’s ending is heavily dependent on how many people you kill, with fewer kills leading to a better ending, with the caveat of being more difficult to get. Choice is a huge factor in Dishonored, and rarely do you see so many choices available to the player. Developing for this much player choice is no easy task, but is definitely appreciated.
It is easy to understate the importance of Dishonored to the stealth genre, as it is a sort of amalgamation of the strides in progress the genre has made. Many games nowadays neglect many of the advancements brought about by games like Thief and Mark of the Ninja, which only end up with the stealth genre falling into obscurity. Thankfully, there are many more games that understand the formula for a good stealth game and where to improve on it.