I know I’m really late to the Dishonored party, but after I picked up the definitive edition of Dishonored II – Which comes with both Dishonored, all the DLC, and Dishonored II – and finished the first game, I knew this would be a series I love.
It’s so… I don’t want to say it’s dark, because it’s really not. The first one was because it mostly took place at night, but that’s about the extent of its actual darkness. It’s really… Dreary? No.
Fucked up. I think that’s what I’m looking for. Everything about the Dishonored series is just really fucked up, especially in Dishonored II.
“But Reed,” you might be saying. “Why? Why would you say something so terrible about a game you absolutely loved?”
This is true. It is a really wonderful series, and I think it’s actually the whole ‘fucked up-ness’ about it that I really love the most. See, I don’t mean the game itself, the gameplay, the type of game, or even the story. The game plays beautifully (although I really hate how your Far Reach power in Dishonored II is so much more limited than it is in the first game).
The chaos system is also absolutely fantastic. I love that my actions in the game actually matter. It’s not like other ‘choice’ games where you get a hand full of choices to make that impact the ending. Every single, tiny, little thing you do in Dishonored matters. Every time you get spotted and end up accidentally having to chop someone’s head off, you risk having your chaos level go higher and higher. Every time a spot light shines on you, every time you blink into a new room without using dark vision first, you can affect how the end of the game will turn out. And I think that’s beyond awesome.
But this game… Both of these games… Ugh. I don’t think I’ve ever been more on edge in my entire video game playing life. It’s so stressful. It’s so much to take in. At the end of the last paragraph, I mentioned Blinking into a room without using Dark Vision. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sneaky for the entire first half of a mission, make a tiny mistake, and then end up having to kill everyone only to lose my low chaos.
There’s so many little things to think about and consider. So many ways that you can totally ruin your approach to an objective. And then it all works out by random dumb luck.
Here’s a great example. (Kind of spoilers below)
I just got through with the level in Jindosh’s mansion. This was actually a really cool level. It’s designed beautifully. The whole thing, if you haven’t played the game and don’t plan on playing it, is a giant puzzle. Jindosh makes clockwork soldiers, you see. No, not like the ones in Doctor Who. They’re absolutely massive creatures that attack you at a moment’s notice.
He took this technology and used it to build a giant maze of a house. By pulling levers throughout his mansion, you can change the entire floor plan. You can turn a ballroom into a trophy room or open up new areas of a room just with the flip of a switch.
So I’m pulling levers, jumping into all sorts of holes and cracks, and getting into places I’m not supposed to get into. It takes me about an hour and a half to get down to Sokolov, who’s being kept in the basement of this dude’s house. I bring him back up to the top, drop him off in my little car carriage thing, and then go back in to take down Jindosh.
I’m standing there in the main room of the house thinking ‘”How the hell do I get back over there?” I thought about it long and hard and eventually said “Well, I guess I’ll just pull this lever and find out.” So I pulled it, jumped down onto the floor, and what do you know. There’s the whale oil canister that’s been powering the wall of light that was blocking my way the ENTIRE TIME I’D BEEN ON THE LEVEL. I pulled it out, walked right by where I’d just come from, walked into the room with Jindosh, and finished up the level nice and clean.
Why?! How did I not pull this lever already?! I’m sure I did. No. I know I pulled it. But I just was too stupid/preoccupied to notice the whale oil. It’s just so frustrating sometimes. The constant stream of enemies that just come out of nowhere. The far reach power that sometimes will get me away from an enemy, and sometimes it just says ‘Nah you got this bro. I’m gonna go get a sandwich.’
Frustration aside, it is magnificent. For everything that frustrates me about these two games, there are 10 things that amaze me. Take the level after Jindosh’s mansion. You go into the Dust District being told that there are three ways to get to your objective. 1) Kill the boss of the Howlers and take his body to the Overseers. 2) Kill the Overseer boss and take his body to the Howlers. 3) Find another way.
First thing you see when you get into the main area is a HUGE door with two people trying to break in. Walk up to them, they’ll stop talking, and leave. Upon further inspection, you notice that the door is actually the door to the house you’re supposed to get into. But the only way to get in is to break the lock designed by Jindosh himself. And it’s a riddle. A fucking riddle.
How many games put a fucking riddle into the middle of a mission? It’s totally optional, by the way. After Kelsey and I (but mostly Kelsey) sat there for 20 minutes trying to figure it out, I just decided to go around the level thinking of who I was going to kill. It was really tough. I’m sure someone’s solved it. But the great thing is that you can’t go to the Internet for the answer. It’s randomly generated. So every riddle is going to have a different answer.
How. Cool. Is. That.
It’s the little things that are making me love the Dishonored series so much. It’s the big things, too. The fact that they took so much time and effort into crafting this beautiful world just for me, but they also took the time to make typewriters that do a little ‘ding!’ when you interact with them enough.
I know I said I was going to do a review of Dishonored II sometime this week, but I’m not going to have the time. I just wanted to get some thoughts out of the way before I get it up (hopefully next week).
What’s your favorite ‘Ah shit’ moment of the Dishonored series? Let me know in the comments.