Oh hey, it's another game that I bought during a sale several years ago and then never bothered to actually play. Some might say that I have a serious problem when it comes to impulse shopping, although I would respond with "shut up, your opinion is meaningless." Leave me alone and let me live my life!
Anyways, Dishonored is pretty neat. Set in the fictional, plague-ridden hellhole of Dunwall, this game has you murdering a bunch of people as an act of retribution against some other murders that already happened. In the vein of games like Deus Ex, however, you don't actually have to murder everyone. Every environment that you hop into is designed to accommodate a variety of playstyles, and ruining the reputation of a high-ranking official can be just as effective as jabbing at them repeatedly with a sword.
To further elaborate this point, an objective as simple as making it past a highly secured bridge opens up several possibilities. Off the top of my head, one could shoot every guard in sight, sneak up behind the guards and knock them out, hop across nearby rooftops, possess a rat and then run through a tiny sewer tunnel as the rat, or just use your ability to freeze time and simply run past everyone. Whether you have a strong proclivity towards violence or not seems to have a minor effect on how the story plays out, but other than that, the game doesn't structurally favor one playstyle over another, providing you with the freedom to do what you feel like.
"Blink," one of the first special abilities that you learn, is particularly fun to experiment with. Using Blink allows you instantly (and invisibly) fling yourself forward, and the ability's low mana cost allows you to chain together several Blinks in a row. Unlike other stealth games, this allows you to sneak up behind guards rather easily, and it makes traversing environments snappy and fun.
It's a shame that the narrative and the characters are so bland. For whatever reason, Arkane Studios and Bethesda shelled out enough money to secure well-known talents like John Slattery, Carrie Fisher and Susan Sarandon, but they didn't give them anything to work with. Even the greatest vocal talents of our generation could only bring so much gravitas to monologues that boil down to "thank you for rescuing him" or "bring me supplies and I can upgrade your stuff." And yes, they're mostly monologues, as the protagonist in this game is always silent; it feels far more jarring here than it would in, say, a Mario game.
Thankfully, I am finally on track to finish this before the next Steam sale happens. The dozens of other untouched games, though? Not so much...