If I had a dollar for every time I said ‘Video games aren’t really doing it for me anymore’ in one of these blogs, I’d have…probably $4 or $5 by now. That’s not actually that many times. That analogy was a lot more impactful in my head.
Regardless, video games haven’t really been doing it for me ($6) for a while. The last game I got, Prey, really didn’t live up to its hype. It was good, well, it was okay, but it just wasn’t the game I expected from Arkane Studios.
So, when I found out that Arkane was making a new installment (Game? DLC? Not DLC – not game thing?) in the Dishonored franchise, I was ecstatic. I was a latecomer to the Dishonored series, only first playing Dishonored last winter when I purchased the Extended Edition of Dishonored II which came with both the first and second games, but I’ve fallen in love with it since then.
The gameplay is fantastic. The worldbuilding and storytelling are amazing. And the freedom that the games give you to achieve your goals in any way imaginable makes me feel like I’m playing what video games should be in the 21st century.
So last Tuesday my wife and I got in the car, drove to Best Buy, and went straight to the PS4 section. After searching for what felt like hours (but was really minutes), I couldn’t find the game. I looked and looked, I went to the front of the store. I went into the Xbox and Switch sections. But it was all for not.
That’s when I had to ask someone for help. “Excuse me,” I said in a nice, polite tone, “would you happen to have any more copies of the new Dishonored game?” My question gave him pause.
“Uhm… You mean…Dishonored II? That’s the newest one and we…we should have plenty of copies on the shelves. What did you need it for?”
“No no no…” I assured him, “not Dishonored II. I mean the new one. The one that came out today.” I pointed at my watch like it was a calendar.
This caused him even more confusion. “I…” the young man stuttered, not wanting to offend me, “I don’t think so…I mean…there’s Dishonored and Dishonored II… You mean, like, is it a DLC or something?”
“No no. It’s like, Revenge of the Outsider or something. I promise. It’s a new, physical game. But if you don’t know if you have it or not, then you don’t have it. It’s cool man.” So we started to walk away, but he said that he would look in his system to check.
At this point, I didn’t even care if they had it. I just wanted the guy to stop looking at me like I was insane. Sure enough, after three minutes of searching through their inventory online, he says, “Well you were right. There is a new one out today.” With a smirk on my face and anticipation in my heart, I politely asked him if they actually had it in stock.
I got a fucking workout from running around Best Buy with this dude, seriously. We went all around where I had just been looking for the game, we went up to the front, he asked a couple people (who all gave him the same look of insanity he’d given me), and finally he found it in a box behind the counter.
After installing the mandatory day-one update, I was finally ready to play. I can’t tell you how excited I was. I was like a kid getting ready to walk into a candy store. I couldn’t wait to get back to Karnaca, sneak my way around dark and musty corners, killing Overseers and blinking to and fro.
The first thing that jumped out at me was that I, well, I couldn’t blink. Not that I could but wasn’t able to because of some crazy magical thing that cutoff all my powers, no. I actually didn’t have any powers.
I jumped into this world with nothing. Just a knife, a little wrist shot arm cannon thing, and my wits. That was it. Which was really kind of liberating. Now that I actually have my powers again later on in the game, I’ve noticed that I’m really not playing as smart as I should be. If I end up falling off a ledge or getting seen by someone, I’ll just blink away back to a safe place and worry about the enemy later.
(Editor’s Note: I do realize that it’s not called blink in DOTO. I’m gonna call it that because that’s what it is. It’s like, displace or some shit? I dunno. I dunno why they changed it just for this one game.)
But that’s not actually a bad thing. I’m really enjoying playing this game differently than I did Dishonored and Dishonored II. I think it’s partly because I’m playing as…not necessarily a bad character, but I mean, I’m an assassin; I’m a murderer. My whole goal is to kill God, so I mean, I’m not that much of a good guy.
When you were playing as Corvo or as Emily in the first games, it was a little more difficult to go around killing every single person on the entire map. In DOTO, I feel like it’s not necessarily easier, but I’m more able to just run around, shoot people in the head, and blink off into darkness instead of dropping down, knocking them out, and hiding them in a corner one at a time until I can get into a room undetected.
That minor, well, kind of major, detail aside, the game is absolutely gorgeous. It’s great to head back to Karnaca and explore new parts of the island we were introduced to in the second installment of the series. Billie Lurk isn’t hitting up all the usual places you’d assume in a Dishonored game. You go everywhere from a bank to a mansion. The current level I’m on, I think it’s only level 4 or 5, is in an old abandoned mine, an ancient place where the void actually comes through into the real world. It’s a very cool scene, and one that’s a welcome change from the palaces and downtrodden streets of games past.
But that’s kind of a big issue in DOTO. I feel like so much of this game is a callback to the previous titles that they’re expecting you to know all this story that happened in Dishonored and II. It requires so much prior knowledge that you think they’d actually have respect for the players; that if they’re going to assume knowledge on your part from the two previous installments, they’d assume that you actually know how to play the game.
But not so much. They tutorialize every minute detail of this game. The first two levels, basically, are just giant tutorials. There isn’t nearly as much freedom as there were in previous titles, solely because they want to make sure you know how to blink from the ground to a ledge. If they’re going to treat the player like they should know all this story, then they should treat us like we know what we’re doing gameplay wise. It’s not like my powers are so different that I can’t figure out how to use them without you holding my hand.
But so much for the gameplay itself. Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room – what the hell is this game?
I mentioned previously about the confusion when I went to purchase it and how badly it was marketed. Is it a DLC? Is it a standalone title? Is it a minigame? Who really knows?
I mean, it’s not a DLC, that’s for sure. Like I said, I’m currently about halfway through level 5 of 8, and I’ve been playing for probably 6 or 7 hours. The side quests in this game can keep it going for much longer than you’d expect. The ‘contracts’ as they’re called, are picked up in black markets across the game. They run the gamut of gameplay, from faking the suicide of a mime to stealing a painting from a shipping boat. They’re a great source of fun (and an easy source of income).
But it’s also not a standalone title. If the game is only going to be 10 hours long, which I believe it will be, then that doesn’t really hold up to the 18 – 20 hours that Dishonored II ended up being.
So what the hell is going on? First they started talking about Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. That’s another game that’s not really a game but it’s got to be a game because it’s $40 and not just the $10 – $15 that DLCs usually are. Then there’s Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, which only cost $30, but from what I’ve heard provides more gameplay hours than the newest Uncharted game.
Is this going to be a thing now? Are devs going to start pushing out shorter games (that really provide just as much entertainment) for half the cost? I really wouldn’t mind it at all. I think in a world where major AAA titles vary in length from Call of Duty to Witcher III, there needs to be an in between. There needs to be something for the people out there who just want to play a good video game, beat it (not in 800 hours), and be done with it. I really appreciate this move in the gaming field, and I hope that we see more of these shorter, cheaper titles in the future.
So while DOTO is half the price and half the length of previous Dishonored titles, it’s just as much fun. Returning to Karnaca put a glimmer of darkness into my rat-talking heart, and I really can’t wait to get back home and kick some cultist ass before taking down the Outsider.
Reed’s Review Corner
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
9.0 really, really creepy talking rats out of 10.
Graphics are outstanding.
It’s good to be back in Karnaca.
Short-form storytelling in games is a plus.
Game’s tutorialized way too much.
Devs assume players don’t know how video games work.