By the time that we had decided that I would write a first impressions piece on Dishonored, I had basically (and now have) finished it, so this is probably more of a review than a first impression.
It has to be said though that first impressions do last and as I have proven with this game, it’s fair to say that my first impression of this game was a good one as I couldn’t put it down (relatively speaking).
It’s not a long game but the length wouldn’t and isn’t a factor on whether I would have completed it before writing this piece, I truly believe that I would have finished it anyway (it took approx. 6-8 hours). The story is a classic coup d’état and you, as Corvo the Lord Protector, is the scapegoat jailed for the murder of the Empress you are assigned to protect.
As I mentioned during Episode 029 the game opens with you returning to the city of Dunwall, which is under a terrible rat plague, after your failed search for help from other nations. You sail in on a little boat and you are first introduced to the gorgeous watercolour style landscape around you with the sun shining and the water glistening as you watch a large whale being transported on a huge ship to be drained of its oil, the source of energy in Dunwall.
Straight away you also notice the sound quality. The sound effects which complement the visuals do so very well, using the sound to further ramp up the immersion factor and the soundtrack also seems to lead well to the time period in which it’s set.
You are greeted by the Empress’ daughter Emily and it’s here that you are gently introduced to the tutorial, which is nicely planted in the gameplay and is not to obtrusive. The combat and interaction systems are very simple to learn and don’t make it over complicated to implement, it also makes it obvious from the start that you can skip ‘cut scenes’ (I say cut scenes, but they aren’t really, as they happen in game and aren’t loaded in) and just move on or stay and watch/listen to what the characters are saying in order to get information that you might need later on.
Therein lies the crux of this game, choice, you can choose to listen in to passing guards chatter so you can find out about side missions or just head straight to your primary objective. You can enter an area by any one of a number of routes or methods, or you can just bypass others all together. You can also choose to be stealthy or go in on full attack mode. Every choice you make will have an impact on your ‘chaos’ rating and therefore which ending to the game you ultimately get.
Each mission gives you the option to complete it in a non-lethal way should you choose, in order to keep the chaos rating low, but it also has the effect of changing the story itself because if you kill a character early in the game they won’t be there later to help/hinder you. Of course there are achievements to reflect this as well, such as for completing the game without killing a soul or even being detected at all!
This is where I think that the length of the game will actually help me. If the game was too long then I would be reluctant to replay it just to try the full stealth and no kill method, I refer to Deus Ex: Human Revolution for that argument. For me Deus Ex was too long to go through a second time (straight away at least) just to get a few extra achievements, but with Dishonored I feel that I could.
A good feature that it also has is the fact that you can have multiple saves, and I know this isn’t new but it will help with tackling both the bad ending (I got the good ending by the way :)) and completing it in full stealthy angel mode!
So in conclusion Dishonored is a very well-constructed game with great visuals and art style, an immersive soundtrack and engaging story which also gives you the feeling of choosing how the story unfolds. There are not many single player games that I would play through more than once nowadays but I think Dishonored is one of the few.