Article

Dishonored – Meh (The Gameplay)

Dishonored, one of the most anticipated games of the year, has built itself up with the promise of incredible exploration and many different ways to completing a mission; ranging from a stealthy, non-lethal approach to a mindless slaughter on the way to the end. After all this hype, many have hoped that Dishonored would show that a game about stealth that does not hold the players hand could prosper in a modern industry. However, the game’s simplicity and lack of difficulty has, unfortunately, produced a product much different to what many where expecting.

Dishonored is built around the “Blink” ability, where you can instantly jump from place to place. While in theory it is an interesting idea, it can easily be abused to skip any obstacle you encounter, meaning that even in the highest difficulty settings the game is easy. The game’s AI doesn’t help with this lack of difficulty either, with the combat being incredibly simplistic and guards often not noticing very obvious things. For example, as I hit an assassination target with a sleep dart, to take him down non-lethally, five guards rushed past me to his body, do nothing, and proceed to run back to their posts like nothing had happened. It’s amazing how bad the AI can be at times.

You’ll be doing this a lot.

While it may not be perfect, I actually quite like the nonlethal neutralization of your targets. In most other games, a nonlethal takedown consists of simply knocking them out and leaving, but Dishonored usually requires you to complete a separate objective. For example, to non-lethally remove a certain NPC, you need to kidnap him and brand him as an outcast so that he’ll be exiled from the city. Regrettably, this interesting part of the game is tarnished by just how similar most of the other non-lethal options are identical to their lethal counterparts.

The game also tends to hold your hand. For instance, in one mission I was not outright told who my target was, and I was looking forward to trying to deduce the identity of the target, but then one specific NPC flat out told me who to target and how I would take them out, which amounted to telling her to go to the basement and knocking her out there. The lethal option is not much different, requiring you do just kill her instead of knocking her out.

And while branding the target as an outcast and then seeing him as an outcast near the end of the game was a nice touch, more often than not choices made in the game have no effect on the overall game. While some side quests will often reference your previous actions, the main missions have no coherent connection to one another. Nothing you do in one mission will really change the next, other than your chaos statistic which simply represents how many people you killed, so any choices in the game feel hollow and meaningless. The biggest decision you’ll ever make is whether or not to do a full lethal or full stealth run.

Much of the game seems to have no real purpose. I could kill a torturer for a sidequest… but why should I? There’s no in-game reward for doing it, not even any flavor text. Why was I given a zoom upgrade for a game with such tight corridors and cramped level design? Why have so many artifact upgrades when they are so poorly balanced that there is no point in using many? Who wouldn’t ignore the artifact that let them throw things farther, or restores a bit of mana whenever they drink from a water fountain, when they can just as easily get one that the one that gives a complete boost to their health. And even then, you can easily swap out these upgrades, ruining any hard choices you might needed to have made.

This sidequest is necessary for a nonlethal run.

Abilities don’t give you any new options, just a different way to approach the same option. I can Blink past an enemy checkpoint, or stop time and run past it, or possess a guard and run past it, or exploit the AI and sneak past it. No matter what, you are forced to go past that same checkpoint. Even then, Blink is so overpowered that there is little point in using any other ability anyway.

Even though the game claims to endorse stealth, it is clearly skewed towards combat. If you’re playing as a stealth character, the only feasible weapons are the crossbow and takedowns, and non-lethal characters are restricted even further by only being able use sleeping darts and nonlethal takedowns. The abilities have some kind of combat use, but a majority of them have no use for a stealthy or non-lethal characters. And even if you play a combat oriented character, there isn’t much variety; a sword, a pistol, a crossbow, functionally similar to the pistol but quieter and weaker, grenades and an explosive trap. I expected a lot more weapons and items to find, but alas. This also means that the only things to spend money on are the upgrades, most of which just increase your max ammo, and ammo. There’s no real point to these purchases anyway, as guards drop ammo anyways.

Oh no, I’ve been caught!

While on a non-lethal stealth run I had very little option for playing around with and abusing the game mechanics, when messing around with I could do all kinds of hilarious things. If a guard shot me, I could stop time and then grab the bullet midair, or even better, possess the guard and move him in front of the bullet. There was something inherently entertaining about calling a swarm of rats, stopping time, attaching an explosive trap to one, and just watching the carnage. The abilities are actually extremely fun to use, it’s just that the game never really requires you to, and actively discourages you if you are trying to be stealthy and unseen. You don’t really need to be creative when the most obvious and boring path available is also the most efficient one.

I played the PC version and the port is clearly well done. No graphical glitches or slowdown, it’s very customizable in terms of the graphics options and controls, and the default controls aren’t extremely terrible. The game is very clean, sporting almost no bugs, but the polish in the programming doesn’t make up for the lack of depth.

All these issues clump together in one huge mess, and that’s really what makes Dishonored so disappointing. With some better level design, AI, and a greater focus on difficulty, the game could have been really fun. The abilities were amusing, but ultimately unnecessary. The side quests are interesting, but have no effect on the game whatsoever. The weapons are functional, but have almost no variety. The game has some really interesting mechanics like the blink, but just weren’t polished enough. You can throw items to distract guards, and even blow out some candles to make an area darker, but features like this come up once and then are never used again. If the game had been polished just a bit more, the abilities made less situational and more useful, maybe Dishonored could have been a great game.

 

Whoops, false alarm.

Regardless of its issues, I’m still glad that Dishonored was released. It certainly not the rebirth of the stealth genre some may have hoped for, and its current $60 price tag is much too high, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for gaming. For many, Dishonored will be their first taste of a game with gameplay choices and stealth elements, and while shallow, they are ultimately a good first step. If Dishonored creates more fans of a player-choice based approach to game design, we may see more games go the extra mile that Dishonored needed, or perhaps these fans will be content with what they already have. Only time will tell.

 49 thoughts on “Dishonored – Meh (The Gameplay)
  1. fgsdfs on said:

    I couldn’t agree more. Lack of difficulty was the main reason I stopped playing around half way through, and I played on the second hardest difficulty. You could probably beat the whole game on the hardest difficulty without using any activated powers at all.

  2. Another victim of Bethesda/Zenimax treatment and its braindead playtesters. Nothing new to see. I feel really sad for Raphaël Colantonio and his team, because it’s obvious, that Dishonored was much more than this, but it’s a AAA game, so you either dumb down it for degenerates or don’t release the game at all. Same thing happened with Deus Ex: Human Revolution with its terrible popamole mechanics and tons of cut content. Thank you, big publishers, for not letting developers to do their work properly. Just thank you.

    Well, at least Arkane Studios and Eidos Montreal are still making games, because judging by last BioShock Infinite trailer maestro Ken Levine and his Irrational Games are making interactive movies. And I thought, you can’t do something worse than the original BioShock.

    • Funny how valve has braindead playtesters that they use as an excuse to bastardize every single game they create and the majority of GYPs writers (Majority being one hundred fucking percent) violently forces themselves onto valves cock and hangs on for dear life, while bashing this game for flaws that are near identical in most valve games.

      • Mr Charles on said:

        But comparative valve games like Half life 2 aren’t advertised as challenging and open ended experiences that provide satisfying player choice.

        Generally they’re very directed and linear because they are intended to be that way, and even with that design philosophy they indulge in little direct hand holding and give far more choice and challenge than your average shooter.

  3. Michael Talley on said:

    Okay maybe I’m the only one that this really annoyed the shit out of, but why the hell are you able to sneak around dogs? I’m not some overly enthusiastic canine lover or anything but I know that I can’t get anywhere near a dog without it noticing. Even docile ones lose their shit when someone new approaches them. I’d imagine it would be even worse for trained guard dogs.

    This isn’t just an immersion thing either. It was a missed opportunity for gameplay mechanics. Why not make dogs start to sniff you out once you get in a certain radius so they break up the monotony of “waiting for patrol” stealth. If the game had a decent plot and maybe 6 more little details like that, it could’ve been exceptional.

  4. The only meh thing here are these reviews… You should try reading some REAL books, watching some REAL movies and TV series and listening to some REAL music before trying to write “honest gaming journalism”. And living a little bit too, it would give you another perspective on things. Video games aren’t culture, just entertainment, but enjoying art and culture and living REAL life gives you kids a different perspective on all things. Living your life playing only computer games is…. well, meh… And journalism, well, this isn’t journalism at all, believe me.

    • Marcus Puckett on said:

      It’s a bit unfair to assume I do nothing but play video games and then talk shit about them. First off, in my review of the story I mentioned several strong aspects of the game. Second, I most certainly do other things than play video games (no it isn’t writing fan fiction about video games). Third, if you don’t think a gaming culture exists, well you’re just wrong. And don’t call me kid, unless you’re like 40, then I guess you can call me kid.

      What do you consider REAL books/movies/TV series/music?

      • Miguel on said:

        I’m only 38, may I call you kids anyway? I wasn’t aiming particularly at you when I mentioned the bit about living life away from a computer/ console (as I do not know you, I really don’t know what the hell you do with your spare time). I was generalizing from the comments and reviews of this kind that I usually read (not necessarily on this site) which show that most people who have strong opinions about video games usually don’t know about anything else. Oh yes, they may party and study and work, and whatever else, but are they consuming other forms of entertainment and/ or art asides from playing games? I think not. Their arguments are too straight, too narrow. Yes, you did point out the strong aspects of Dishonored, but titling this two (at least two) articles with the word “meh” included in it does suggest a lot about the general opinion of the author(s) about the game, does it not? “Meh” might have been a bad choice, in my opinion.
        Finally I am not going to suggest you anything, because it would take too long. I’ll just cut it short by saying that the average “gaming culture member” (yes, I know it does exist) usually reads sci-fi and fantasy, watches sci-fi and fantasy TV series and movies and on the old days listened to metal bands (today I’m sure they don’t). If people are taking it seriously to write about games (though I maintain my point that video games are only entertainment and not art) they should have a broader grasp of genres – because usually game developers, though they are not artists themselves, have a broader grasp of many genres, and many times they make use of it when elaborating the narrative, the ambiance and the visual aspect of the games.

        • Marcus Puckett on said:

          Yeah sure. I really don’t think you are giving Dishonored a fair evaluation, you are putting to much emphasis on the ambient world that, while excellent, doesn’t make up for the rest of the game. At least in my opinion, and others as you can see. Either way, it is certainly an opinion, and nothing that I can empirically prove, and that’s my favorite part about the site, getting to see the discussion generated by the articles, getting to see games from completely new points of view. “Meh” also summed up my entire view of the game as well. I enjoyed bits and pieces of it, and did not enjoy other parts. It generally evened out in the end, thus my “meh”. It’s not meant as a term of derision, just of apathy.

          As for consuming other mediums, I’ve been in several bands ranging from thrash metal, to jazz, to acoustic indie hipster bullshit. I read comic books, classic novels (in the middle of The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), and a slew of other things (don’t even get me started on music). I also really think that there is huge lack of criticism in games these days, treating them to much like an entertainment form and not expecting them to be an artistic medium, so I try to hold them to a high standard, and back up my standard with reasoning so that, hopefully, it will persuade some one that games can be more. They won’t ever change until the audience demands it, and what I write on this site is my effort to try and improve the game industries abysmally low standards. I know it probably won’t do much, but you never know unless you try.

          Even if games can’t ever be art, there is still a difference between good and bad entertainment, and it is certainly possible to criticize entertainment.

          • Miguel on said:

            “Yeah sure. I really don’t think you are giving Dishonored a fair evaluation, you are putting to much emphasis on the ambient world that, while excellent, doesn’t make up for the rest of the game. ”

            I put emphasis on what is important for me in a game. What about the author of this text:

            “…However, the game’s simplicity and lack of difficulty has, unfortunately, produced a product much different to what many where expecting.”

            This is from the first paragraph and says it all. It is all about difficulty, Is the game difficult enough? Does it pose various and complex ways to test my intellectual capabilities (or, sometimes, just agility, hand-eye coordination, reflexes)? Well, and then you say that games should strive to be “art”. Art is not difficult, it does not need require you to be intellectually empowered to “understand” it. Art does not pit against others in a logical dispute for the prize of the Most Bright of Them All. Art may require an educated taste, may require an educated culture, but even someone did not educate his/ her taste or culture can appreciate art. Video games aren’t art and none of you really want them to be. What you need them to be is a way to prove yourselves superior to others in an intellectual way. And that, paradoxically, is just stupid. But I won’t prolong this debate, because I realized that I am discussing with nerdy kids and there’s no way to rationalize with those.They will always find faults in my reasoning, they will always be right, because they NEED to be. Sure, you’re right, Dishonored is meh. Most games are meh. But chess is great. Play chess.

    • Believe me, a random guy on the internet who’s clearly an expert at all things journalism related. Yes, believe me.

      • Miguel on said:

        The random guy on the Internet is a journalist, but that’s beside the point. This site is, as far as I can tell, devoted to amateur criticism of video games. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not journalism. There’s a space for critics on the media (professional ones, not that it makes them better), but that’s only a tiny space, criticism in itself does not make a website a journalistic website, it needs to be filled mostly with news, interviews… Well, I guess you know what I mean. I believe this is a place for honest, unbiased, amateur video games criticism. Cut the journalism out of it, doesn’t make any sense, and the word doesn’t equate with “seriousness” and “impartiality”, though it should.

  5. Ramalori on said:

    Miguel, you are too quick to shun video games as “entertainment.” What is art, literature, and music but entertainment? This medium, though budding, can be just as artful and critical as any other medium. I don’t want this to evolve into a game is art piece, however. I simply wanted to point out that there are very rarely any articles on this website that are aware of the good aspects of games. What we do here, it seems, is nitpick endlessly. If Kotaku is the cesspool of infinite praise, we are the negative foil (without the readership). While Miguel has a lot wrong in his post that doesn’t reflect what is wrong in this article, we do need to point something out – the core of his argument is sound. This article? This isn’t “honest gaming journalism.” Maybe it is though. Perhaps entertainment journalism is just not worth involving oneself with, since we cannot be unbiased.

    • Ramalori on said:

      Also, man could this website use a larger comment box for easy revision of text/an edit button.

    • Amer Hmaidan on said:

      Ramalori, I understand your concern. I know this review was really negative, but I honestly did not think this was an enjoyable game.

      If it’s worth anything, my next review is on a game I had fun with. It has some negative aspects, certainly, but I do recommend it.

    • Miguel on said:

      I wasn’t that quick. Video games simply are not art, it’s a fact, not an opinion. Though there are debates about the subject, video games aren’t still considered “fine arts”. They may have a lot in common with cinema, but they are too close to programming to be considered a fine art. Things change, but they haven’t changed yet. As for art and cinema and literature they can be also entertaining, of course, but they are mainly arts. And I mean art, cinema and literature, not bad paintings, Hollywood movies and books by Stephen King…

      • Ramalori on said:

        You do not look in the right places for art, Miguel. At least not in this medium. You pointed out that Hollywood produces no “great cinema,” “bad paintings” are not really art, and Stephen King writes no “good books”. How flawed a perspective you have! What is Apocalypse Now? What is Guernica? What is the Dark Tower? (That one’s a bit of a joke) Are they not art? Are they not what you would consider poor, due to their inherent nature? You have to examine things on a case by case basis and not make blanket statements about things in an effort to shut them down. Likewise here, even though most of the games I assume you play come from the videogame industry, you cannot say they are all “not art.” I do not posit that Dishonored is art, but look to the Dark Souls, the Spec Ops, these are games that were made for commercial release, and they exhibit art in their own way: through gameplay. Just as literature is defined by the words that make up the sentences and the ideas within those lines form the whole and the whole is reflected in those lines and society is criticized through subtlety, so too do videogames do this. Yume Nikki is a game about dreams, but through gameplay that at first seems terse and confusing, suddenly becomes easy to understand and execute, then finally becomes dull and mundane and monotonous, there is a story woven without words about the nature of depression. So quickly do you so videogames are not art that, even if you were to be presented with the case, you would not accept it. If I haven’t been able to make my case here, I’ve either failed, or you are inexplicably close minded.

        • Ramalori on said:

          I think I’m going to write an article about this.

        • Miguel on said:

          You are replying to just one post and reducing my view about what I meant about art and video games to that. I will repeat everything then, and clarify what I mean.
          About those examples cited, I did not say that all Hollywood movies aren’t art, but just that most of them are not, and that is perfectly alright, because most of them are just commercial flicks made to sell tickets and popcorn to teenagers on the first weekend. These are “movies”, they are not “cinema”. And cinema is the expression normally used when referring to the art and not the entertainment medium, which is must vaster. About books is the same. It’s not my opinion that Stephen Kings work is not art, is a generalized opinion (with which I couldn’t agree more). In this case you have lot’s of “books”, many of them interesting, many of them pleasant reading (I wouldn’t include Dark Tower here, but that’s my opinion), but they are not “literature”. About Guernica, well I wouldn’t call it a bad painting. I am not an expert in visual arts, but Picasso is probably one of the most revered painters ever, and Guernica is one of his paintings, in his own style (or one of his own styles). Some people might not like it, some probably think it’s rubbish, but obviously the fact that something is considered “art” by educated critics, by the academia and organizations devoted to the promotion of art and culture, does not compel anyone to like every work of art, does not compel everyone to oblige. Unless while addressing vaster audiences, where you may expect to find people who adhere to these definitions. The definitions are not mine, if you do not like them address your concerns to the general populations of professional movie, visual arts, theater, literary and music critics.
          Finally, I will not consider video games an art, because they are not. Fact, not opinion. One day they might be, but probably I will disagree with that if am still alive when video games start being considered a fine art. That does not mean that is impossible to find art in a game, or in the production of game. I’ve seen illustrations made for some games (Dishonored, for example) that where done by accomplished illustrators (and that shows on the visual aspect of Dishonored, though I have the distinct notion that you don’t care about that, and you are thinking of another form of artistic view of video games).
          Well, I don’t buy your theory of art through gameplay, and I hope most people don’t. Not in spec ops, not in call of duty, not in deus ex, not in skyrim. Gameplay may include many things, but not art. It may include manual dexterity, good hand-eye coordination, quick thinking, strategic thinking, but not art. What is it, do you think art is another form to prove you are more intelligent than other? As the difficulty of games, which the author of the text is so fond of? That’s not art, that’s just nerdvision.
          So, I don’t know if you couldn’t explain what you meant, if you misunderstood me, if I misunderstood you, or if I’m closed minded as you say, but we still disagree. Hey, has the thought crossed you mind that it is you and your friends here in this site (and perhaps other sites) that share your general opinions that are the closed minded ones??? I’ll tell one thing, most people I know don’t like all the games I like, and I don’t like all the games they like, but we share a common approach to video games. Maybe because they are not our main interest in life. The people I know are much more into reading and cinema than they are into video games. And they generally don’t bow to the gaming “classics”, and that’s another thing I forgot to mention before, the always present comparison with the classics in this kind of review whose purpose is to squash the game being analised. The alleged classics were mentioned several times here compared with Dishonored, stuff like Deus Ex and Thief 2, that were great once, but now are just “meh” – more demanding and much more difficult than Dishonored, but “meh” at graphics, “meh” at music, “meh” at immersion, very much “meh” at voice acting. The classics are a thing to be respected in art, because things may change, but true art remains the same, and has been for centuries. Games evolve with technology, and, in the extreme, they are just glorified software.
          In the end I just wasted my time, because who disagreed with me will still find flaws in my reasoning, will still consider I am close minded or arrogant, or just plain stupid. And those who agree probably went away and are not going to waste their time arguing with nerdy kids who think they know it all. Meh….

          • Marcus Puckett on said:

            “In the end I just wasted my time, because who disagreed with me will still find flaws in my reasoning, will still consider I am close minded or arrogant, or just plain stupid. And those who agree probably went away and are not going to waste their time arguing with nerdy kids who think they know it all. Meh….”

            If you think you’re point of view is perfect, which that sentence certainly implies, and that you are above being criticized, then yes, you are in fact closed minded and arrogant. Sure, I have opinions, and others have differing opinions, and we rarely see eye to eye, but I respect their opinions and don’t deign to call them “nerds” because they approach a subject differently from me. If you want to make a serious argument, don’t insult people, it makes you look childish.

          • Miguel on said:

            I swear this is my last comment here and I won’t be back (really). But everybody was so annoyed with my insults that I feel I can’t leave without leaving some kind of explanation. First, well, calling you nerdy kids isn’t an insult, I’m just being nice. If I wanted to insult you I wouldn’t use suck kind words. Second, I’ve been called “close minded”, “idiot”, my posts were accused of being cancerous, or something like that. As for myself, most replies to my posts imply that I am arrogant, straight-minded, clueless. Probably more nice things. I would have tried to avoid calling you nerdy kids, but not today.
            Have a nice life, and hope when all of you grow up, eventually, will find yourselves wondering why the hell you lost precious minutes of your life with arguments on the Internet with people you don’t know, about things you disagree. They always end more or less like this.

      • Evilagram on said:

        Public Concensus defines what art is? Art is defined by merit? Speaking as an art major, that’s full of shit. Even taking the basic definition from Google:

        Art
        Noun:
        The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,…: “the art of the Renaissance”
        Works produced by such skill and imagination.

        Video games not being art isn’t a fact, it isn’t even an opinion. It is an evaluation, a statement, and that statement is wrong (not to mention that bad paintings are art too regardless of how horrible). Being or not being art isn’t some high ideal, it is a categorization. Videogames are a product of creative skill and imagination as much as any film, painting, or song, and they frequently include all three of those within them (but of course they’d still be art even if they included none of those in them).

  6. Evilagram on said:

    I’d love to see a mod or something that:

    1. Made guards wake up when knocked out, both after a period of time, or when another guard comes over to them.
    2. Messed with all the ammo, potion, and upgrade drops to make them less numerous (I was overrun with potions and ammo and never used any of it).
    3. Removed a lot of the explanatory text (game explained too many things that would otherwise be decent puzzles. I disabled objective markers and all other markers as soon as I started the game)
    4. Added a light gem (or some sort of indication of light level)
    5. Added dynamic lights that could be put out. (they had a few, why not more? the engine can clearly handle it!)
    6. Make darkvision cost a little mana as its effects continue. (otherwise why use the nice lean feature at all?)
    7. A save system that is actually worth a damn (little screenshot, actually timestamping it, telling you what area you’re in, hell, maybe your inventory)
    8. Made the guards more persistent. (cooldowns on alerts are almost instantaneous, it’s really sad)
    9. better default keybinds (c for crouch? AGAIN?)
    10. Allow people to customize what weapons are bound on the circle menu from the inventory (ie. have a real inventory screen, not just a list of what you have).
    11. Make corvo left handed.
    12. Allow you to put away your fucking sword, because I never used it.
    13. Make guards actually investigate disturbances and partial spottings instead of staring awkwardly.
    14. Have more guards and tighter patrol patterns.
    15. Have guards wander more.

    I really don’t mind blink, it was a fun power to use, they just should have built the levels around it more, so use of it was more careful.

  7. Evilagram on said:

    Oh, and have guards notice missing guards and adjust their patrol patterns to compensate. That feature was originally planned way back when, but got cut.

  8. When it comes to payola and buying review scores, I didn’t think that it got worse than Mass Effect 3. Then I played this Godawful piece of shit.

  9. Blink and Agility are meta. Also, discovered bodies don’t count against Ghost or Shadow.

    The game really is very easy, and I’m playing at the hardest difficulty. The tutorial bits (which you can disable by the way) are annoying and is obviously the result of having to deal with dumb playtesters and assuming that every player is/will be like that.

  10. Garrett on said:

    I think Dishonored is one of the best video games of the last ten years.
    Call me a bethdrone, call me a faggot, call me a casual. I don’t give a shit.
    I don’t give a shit because GYP is filled with modern gamers and they won’t even know what I’m trying to explain.

    Dishonored is flawed : The Stealth is dumbed down, AI is mediocre, difficulty is not balanced, but Dishonored is a masterpiece, like Deus Ex was, like System Shock 2 was.
    This game is the pure essence of what a video game should be : it’s called meaning. It’s called intelligence, it’s called immersion.
    I don’t think I’ve seen such a brillant environnement in a game since Half-Life 2. There is no gimmick, everything is coherent.
    Every little item has meaning. Everything is connected : There is cable here because it aliments this device, there is a whale oil tank here because it fell down from a device behind, there is a corpse because something happened to this particular person and wasn’t added here just to make the world darker.

    One of the things that impressed me the most was when you hack a Wall of Light so it is harmless to you but disintegrates guards.
    If they pursue you, the first one will get fried, but his buddies will stop and start chucking rocks at the gate so that eventually the whale oil runs out and it powers down. The same happens if a swarm of rats gets steered into the gate, and you can even see a half-full whale oil container if the process is stopped halfway.
    All those details in a game, I don’t think I’ve seen this since Deus Ex. Each of your action has meaning. It’s subtle, it won’t change the story dramatically but it will be part of your experience, it will makes Dishonored a game where you don’t controll Corvo, but where you ARE Corvo. It makes all the difference with modern games that call themselves “immersive”.

    But I won’t. I won’t because the industry is now filled with “gamers” who didn’t grow up playing theses immersive games. When games were judged by the experience they offered and not the difficulty they offered or by the stealth they offered or by the story they offered.
    They don’t care about immersion, they don’t care about meaning. They just play games for entertainement and it’s fucking sad.
    Don’t buy Dishonored, I don’t give a shit. The game won’t sell anyway. Nobody wants to see those kind of games anymore. Immersion has no meaning anymore. Experience neither.

    • I can’t say that I am a fan of Deus Ex, and I never played System Shock, but I’m also an old timer, not a modern gamer, and I agree with everything else. People who write about games, be it professionals or amateurs, are constantly missing the essence of the games, concentrating only on the nitpicking, the very detail that they found to be wrong. This game is immersive, this game has ambiance oozing out of every pipe. Bits of information found in excerpts of books, diaries and such aren’t always clues to solve some puzzle or advance the story in any way. The bits of dialogue you catch now and then aren’t always “useful” either. Neither the posters on the walls. Or the scene of the man pushing his still breathing friend(?), brother(?) out of the piles of dead bodies. All the decoration in the masquerade ball, the little games of power among the upper class (the duel on the garden, for example), all this is contributing to the atmosphere. And even when things like these have other more pragmatical purpose, they are there also to create an atmosphere, an organic universe which has a soul of it’s own, no matter if it has clichés or not. Of course it has clichés, it’s sodding steampuck, everything is a damned cliché.
      All this kind of critique reminds me of my days as a pen & paper game master. You had the “method actors” who were mainly for the flavor and couldn’t care less about the rules, and then the min-maxers, nitpicking about every annoying detail and rules flaw. Game critics are mostly equal to min-maxers in RPGs. Which is sad, because great games like this should sell more and, more than that, should leave a mark, be imitated, inspire others to thrive for immersion not for more difficult games and foes with better AI. Not everybody plays game to prove how bright they are…

    • Sup, Garret, still taffing?

      “Dishonored is flawed : The Stealth is dumbed down, AI is mediocre, difficulty is not balanced, but Dishonored is a masterpiece, like Deus Ex was, like System Shock 2 was.” Wow, just wow. Are you saying, that Deus Ex and System Shock 2 are as bad as Dishonored? Please, don’t say this mean words, because these game were not only amazing for their own time, but they also pushed videogames forward. Dishonred fails at both. It’s not a very good game and it doesn’t do anything really new.
      “This game is the pure essence of what a video game should be : it’s called meaning. It’s called intelligence, it’s called immersion.” Dishonored is an intellgient game and immersive too. Like Skyrim, you know?

      Seriously your and Miguel’s (old timer, lel) posts give me cancer. It’s really sad picture, how you’re trying to defend this butchered game, because at first glance it looks like Deus Ex, System Shock and Thief. Too bad, it’s nowhere near anyone of them. And this is the most depressing part: how 2012 AAA oldschool immersive game fails to be better than 12-14 years games. And it also fails at being just as good as them.

      • Ok, bye bye, this site is giving me cancer…

        • SonicBoom on said:

          You’re taking an awful long time to leave, old boy. Especially after statements like:
          “But I won’t prolong this debate, because I realized that I am discussing with nerdy kids and there’s no way to rationalize with those.”
          Why would you even write that down and post it? Could there be another reason than arrogance? Why try to reason with the unreasonable?

          You’re an idiot and I don’t care about your opinion. See? Catch-22.

          • Miguel on said:

            There were different people discussing, and I had the hope one of you nerdy kids wasn’t really a nerdy kid. It seems I was right on my first guess, old boy (or young boy, or whatever). Now I’m done with your clique. Please, do continue to shun every other opinion except the one that the whole of you agreed upon to be the Truth. It is a very mature decision. So long.

          • Videospel on said:

            “In the end I just wasted my time, because who disagreed with me will still find flaws in my reasoning, will still consider I am close minded or arrogant, or just plain stupid.”

            This statement really defines the mindset you are entering this discussion with. With this starting point you are basically saying that any flaw anyone finds in your arguments stems from the fact that they hold views different from yours. To take this further, you claim that those who disagree with you are “nerdy kids” who cannot be reasoned with. This almost mirrors your own mindset to this discussion, as you clearly state (in comment October 25, 2012 at 8:09 am) that you will hold on to your beliefs about this topic until you draw your last breath.

            So tell me, how do you differentiate the statement “Please, do continue to shun every other opinion except the one that the whole of you agreed upon to be the Truth.” (comment October 25, 2012 at 9:24 am) from “I will continue to shun every other opinion except the one that I have decided upon to be the truth.”?

    • Evilagram on said:

      Funny, I’d attribute loving immersion and escapism with the modern gamer the way you attributed our general critique to the modern gamer. I typically think that modern gamers don’t like games at all, they just want to escape into some fantasy world and don’t care if it’s dull or lifeless like Dishonored is, despite all its meticulous detail.

      What I’d say to you is, virtual worlds aren’t games. They are virtual worlds.

      Did it ever occur to you that many of the flaws in the game’s structure are themselves immersion breaking? Like how guards stand staring off into space if they partially spot you, then dismiss it as rats? Like how if a wall of light runs out of power, no one ever replaces it with the 5 other cans of oil nearby, or the one you just pulled out of the machine and dropped on the ground in front of it? Or telling a guy how to get his share of the take by listing 3 months with a book right next to it listing the 28 months? Or noticing that guards are missing and calling more guards or adjusting patrol routes to compensate? Or ever changing patrol routes like real guards would? Or searching for the player longer than 30 seconds on full alert? Or Guards waking up when other guards go to rouse them, or eventually waking up on their own?

      Sure, there are plenty of nice subtle details as you noted, but there are so many simple changes they could have made to make the game engaging, strategic, dynamic. It’s nice that they give you all these ways to do things alternately, but what they could have done is made more interesting and varied setups that actually demanded a variety of solutions.

      Calling this the pure essence of what a video game to me strikes me as limiting all the amazing things video games have created to some single-minded ideal that cannot comprehend the complexity of “simple entertainment”. Creating a believable detailed virtual world is absolutely a step forward in game design, as it creates all sorts of new avenues to take gameplay, but one must not forget that there are so many alternate ways to push gameplay that have nothing to do with immersion or believability and also that it is in fact a game. For all the intelligence you cite in Dishonored’s world, I am bored with it because it is braindead. It does not require intelligent solutions from the player, it doesn’t require careful considerations, it doesn’t require planning or judgment. I play fighting games. I really love fighting games. They are perhaps the absolute opposite of Dishonored, having only fragments of any sort of story, those fragments being disregarded by anyone and everyone. Fighting games have an intelligence and complexity Dishonored will never have. There are books that can be filled with the complexity and variety of tactics in any single of the fighting games that dominate the tournament scenes.

      I’ve loved Deus Ex and all of its progeny. I’ve believed they were the last bastion of good game design in the west. Dishonored is not worthy to bear that name or carry its legacy forward. The funny thing about the meaning of a work based on immersion like Dishonored is you don’t even have to play it to extract that meaning. That’s what I call a dead game.

  11. “mediocre” is highly complimentary to this game’s shitty gameplay. It’s both unbelievable and depressing how a bad game like this can get across the board excellent review scores.

  12. While I do agree with you for the most part, I think you made a few mistakes that are a bit misleading. The missions actually do respond to the Chaos stat. High Chaos changes a few scenes in the game to more aggressive and “darker” (their words, not mine) scenes. For instance, near the end of the game, you have the chance to fight the assassin of the Empress. On Low Chaos, he duels you alone, freezing time and dismissing his guards in order to have a fair fight with you, while on High Chaos Daud lets his men gang up on you because you’ve shown yourself to be ruthless and even worse than he is. The last level of the game also changes to be (slightly. AI is pretty bad unless it comes to combat) harder on High Chaos, as more guards are posted and they are already alerted to your presence. Nonlethal options also give you different rewards from killing the target. Also, the NPC in the Lady Boyle mission only tells you the target’s name, not which dress she is wearing, so you still have to deduce that from her diary or party guests. I also never got an option to make her go to the basement; I had to haul her all the way down to the basement from upstairs, knocking out a veritable horde of maids and guards on the way. Might just be me though.

    You are right about the gameplay and stealth being highly flawed. I feel that all of these could be easily fixed by the devs themselves by fixing and introducing AI behaviors, adding an option to disable the Blink & Dark Vision regen, and some other things that Evilagram posted above me. While not as bad as some of the rather hyperbole-spewing fellows from /v/, RPG Codex, and so on above me say, or as good as the gushing fanboys from Bethesda forums say it is, I think they could at least make it an 8/10 game if they implemented some of these changes. All we have to do is bring it to their knowledge and pierce through that veil of praise that journalists placed over their heads, rather than just sitting around and preaching to the choir, so to speak.

  13. Adam Gulledge on said:

    As a counter point to difficulty issues, if you use Blink a lot, or find the game easy, you’re likely doing much better than many of the early playtesters were. Being able to find numerous routes around any problem is what I like to see. However, I remember reading articles that Dishonored was ‘too hard’, and testers ‘had no idea what to do’ in the game well before it was out.

    http://teksyndicate.com/news/2012/09/21/dishonored-was-too-difficult-without-clues

    When I read that one above, my first thought was, “Are these people braindead?” I guess Yes, because when I played this game, for as well as I could manage with the text being so small on my TV, I found it insanely easy to Blink over and choke out a guard, then zip away and done. No more guard and no alarms. That was my style and it worked rather well, which is why I think the more creative options in killing people were more meant for evil players. So, you’ve got the dual ways to play.

    Personally, I think it’s less “this game is too easy because people want it that way” (That honor belongs to Skyrim), and more “this game is too easy because I can think for myself.” And on that, I think Dishonored is an unintentional testing ground for player intelligence in regards to playing an open ended title. If the masses who play this game are really that clueless and expectant of hand-holding, like that mission example in the review, then it should be a warning flag. Not a call to change to suit them, because the game may not be for them.

    You don’t make better stuff by dumbing something down. You make better stuff by offering more options and retaining depth/lore. However, I will say that, Yes, some of the rewards of doing things differently and creativly are non-existent in this game, which can disinterest someone from doing them. That was a spot where I felt improvement was needed. The same with being able to switch out upgrades you buy. I would rather have to live with the choices I made.

    All told, I hope more devs see this game and keep up its style of play. I want more of this. Not more of…*looks at Skyrim icon*…that.

  14. b held shads on said:

    As someone who heard about this game twice before it came out, I’m getting that it’s kinda the opposite of Human Revolution, which touted that you could play however you wanted, but gave more to stealth than to aggressive players.

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