Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

R10T1- Inactivity For The Sloth

There's no time for relaxing, reading, and learning, Pride! Action is afoot! If something isn't threatening to destroy you and/or your very way of life, you haven't done enough today.
Or Murdoch HAS snapped from the pressures of being one of two people actually keeping the remains of humanity from literally crumbling to dust. He... probably shouldn't be allowed to drink caffeine.


Heatwaves and earthquakes couldn't slow the Sins down! Here's a reminder of all the lovely bonuses that were posted in August!



Quick Review: Dishonored
Dishonored creates a neat world, I have to give it that. There's an odd super science mixed with the dark ages and Plague setting with your abilities being a fairly unexplained combination of science and magic. It's super video game-y, but that doesn't extend to almost anything else you'll do through the whole game and it doesn't seem to make good on the world it creates. The story is told through found document and audio logs and there are dozens and dozens of them. Why are the whales special? Why is their oil used in super science and why are their bones magic? What was the city under the city? What's the Outsider's deal? As far as I know, none of that is even remotely explained, but it could also be that it's there stuffed away in one of the hundreds of books in the game and I missed those ones. This, developers, is why found documentation and audio logs are a horrible way to tell a story. I WANT to know this stuff and through your ineptitude, you've hidden it all from me. It's hard to root for the characters. At best, you're propping up a royal family with no interest in democracy and that let their city down big time and at worst, your team are just a different brand of dirtbags using you to fulfill their own goals and maybe a questionable loyalty to said Empress. Sure the bad guys are total jerkbags, but your introduction to one of your team's helpers is him sexually harassing one of the maids and he later spies on her in the bath, your team serves poisoned alcohol, your team holds dog fights, and you murder a lot of people. There's a fairly obvious late game betrayal, but since I hated almost everybody I encountered (except the Heart, she was cool and sad), the plot “twists” were really obvious and had no impact. Everybody in the game is also very ugly. Despite their super science, everything is grimy and the characters have weird proportions that are less “stylized” and more “physical defects”. There's an overabundance of dialogue with these horrible people but no way to progress it at your own pace. You can either skip all of it or let the game read it to you slowly.
Gameplay-wise, the stealth just isn't fun and given that's the majority of the game, Dishonored becomes a chore to finish. The controls are a little finicky and guards will randomly notice you even if you're behind or away from them or they're not looking at you. There were more than a few instances where I think guards saw me through walls. If you get found out by one guard, they all know where you are and you can't seem to run away from them until late in the game when your powers are souped up. They all have an unlimited supply of rocks or bottles to throw at you, so even trying to teleport away to the rafters doesn't work. There are so many enemies that sneaking is tedious, but the combat is lousy so you don't want to do that either. If you try to do the stealth route, you're inevitably going to bump into some unseen enemy around a corner or get caught for some BS reason so then you suddenly have a whole level's worth of guards attacking you for several minutes. If you just murder everybody you see one at a time, it's much more reasonable. So the gameplay rewards you for killing but the overarching story and features are set up to punish you for doing that. There also isn't an MGS-style map or indicator of sound or vision cones, so there's a lot of guesswork in trying to figure out why or how somebody saw you or popping out and being super stealthy to choke out a guard, only to have some random guy appear out of nowhere and spot you even though you've been casing that spot for several minutes. You can buy a spell to see outlines of enemies, but using it costs magic and means you can't have your teleport equipped and the teleport spell is everything in the game so that's a major disadvantage. I also kept getting caught on objects in the environment, which really ruins the super stealthy assassin feel to the game and was maddening if getting stuck on a piece of debris caused me to be spotted or murdered.
The Plague gives Dishonored a neat take on the good/evil morality system where the more people you kill, the more "chaos" there is in the city, and the more dead bodies you leave, the more there is for the plague rats to eat and thrive on. It would be a great system if the stealth was fun and it was easier to not have to murder everybody and the game didn't punish you as hard for failing a stealth section. Also, there's a perk you can get that causes enemies you kill to burn to ash and disappear, but that still leads to more chaos in the city for some reason. Since the bodies burn and there's nothing for the rats to eat, that should lead to less rats, not more. It's not clear what you can do to lower chaos. Does killing the zombies count towards cleaning up the city and lowering chaos? Is killing plague rats a way to lower chaos? Both sure seem like they should but I don't think they do. I was at High Chaos after a single mission went bad early in the game and I stayed there until the first to last mission where I was suddenly at Low Chaos. I don't know if it's the choice I made to end that mission (which I did accidentally, I totally wanted to murder the dude I was after) or that I beat the mission only killing a single enemy that got the jump on me. The chaos system also works counter to the story. There are several bad people that deserve to die but you wind up not killing them because even though that would be the right thing to do, it would raise your chaos and lead to more rats and zombies. It seems like having two systems would have served the game better. You have the chaos system where taking the explosive, violent, or guard murdery routes would lead to more chaos, civil unrest, violence on the streets, and increased security but then you have a separate plague level where disposing of dead bodies or turning them to ash, killing rats, and killing zombies keeps the city clean. Having those two systems would prevent the game from pitting the mechanics and the story against each other and I'd feel like I was having an honest impact on the world. I shouldn't be punished for killing a child abducting piece of crap that's working to undermine the political system for his own monetary and personal gain. I'm a murderer but I'm a CLEAN murderer and I want to be rewarded for that. Dishonored wants to commit to the stealth gameplay but doesn't give you satisfying tools to do it so you're left with combat that just isn't fun. Between the poorly fleshed out world and unlikable characters, you need good gameplay to make the experience worth it, and Dishonored just can't deliver on that.




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