Dishonored has received almost universal acclaim as a videogame, and for good reason; it’s quite excellent. The stealth option is rewarding, the story is engaging, the gameplay is organic, your interface is a welcome rendition of the Bioshock interface, creativity is rewarded, and it’s just plain overall fun. There’s little I can say about Dishonored that hasn’t been repeated a gazillion times by other reviewers, but I would like to shift to a larger principle of gaming that makes a more personable reason for my love for Dishonored.
A significant part of an organic and engaging gameplay, particularly in stealth and infiltration, has to do with freedom. Dishonored gives a great deal of it, and more specifically, it leaves room enough for the imagination to fill in the gaps to your liking. A good stealth game will let you infiltrate the compound however you want; by murdering everyone, rendering everyone unconscious, sneaking through without so much as a pin drop, and through multiple routes that lead to different starting points. And in so doing, the player can choose to leave (or not leave) some kind of signature.
They say that when computer experts program giant algorithms, sometimes they just deliberately create some junk in the code as an authentic signature just for the fun of it. That’s the kind of signature I mean; it doesn’t necessarily have to have a grand effect on the outcome (although it might), but you do it anyway because it’s fun and potentially hilarious.
- My first assassination target was a puppet of the guy who screwed me over in the beginning that I’m ultimately going after. I decided that I would make the first mission an absolute bloodbath and then do the rest of the game as a merciful angel. In going about this task, I murdered every guard I came across – all 74 of them. But then when I got to the target himself, I merely poisoned his drink and watched him choke on it. Imagine being the officer in charge of investigating this in the morning. Dozens of dead bodies, all of them by the sword except for the big guy who died because of a traitorous insider; no witnesses to report on the incident, paperwork through the roof, and eight of the bodies (honcho included) arranged in a swastika shape in the main courtyard in front of the big statue as a sign of protest against the fascistic government. An absolutely nightmarish investigation, an elusive culprit, and lots of funny press.
- When I was in the main palace, I knocked out two of the guards and two of the housemaids. I carried their bodies to a private room where they wouldn’t be found and put them on top of each other (guards at the bottom so not to crush the delicate petite women). It’s funny enough to pile unconscious guards on top of each other in a big bed so they can wake up anxious to check their blood for various diseases but tomorrow morning when all is said and done, these guys are going to have a lot of explaining to do…and a mountainous sexual harassment charge on them.
- In the last mission, after infiltrating the compound and not killing a single person, I took the elevator up to the top of the tower where the mission takes place. Then I murdered all 4 guards and dragged their bodies to the elevator. When the mission is over and the oblivious guards at the bottom see their dead friends and realize what they failed to prevent, the guilt will haunt them for the rest of their lives!
Here’s to more games next year that let you do things your own way and let you leave your signature on the area. The imagination aspect of the art of videogaming must never be lost, for in the case of Dishonored, it only further enriched my experience with the game.