‘Dishonored,’ killing baddies with supernatural style

If you’re a fan of “Bioshock” and “Assassin’s Creed,” chances are that you’ll like “Dishonored.”

You are Corvo. You are the bodyguard to the Empress and her daughter Emily. You start off the game returning from a mission for the Empress. Your island city of Dunwall is infested with a rat plague, and your mission was to visit the other cities in the Empire to see if they’d seen anything like it before. While telling the Empress that the other cities were going to block off Dunwall until the plague has subsided, she is assassinated by warriors using some kind of magic, preventing you from saving her, and Emily is kidnapped.

You are found at the scene and accused of her murder.

The nice thing about “Dishonored” is that you immediately know who set you up and have a decent idea about why.

A small group of revolutionaries believe you are innocent and help you break out of jail. You become their assassin, their arm against those who are taking over the kingdom. Your ultimate goal is to find and save Emily, eventually restoring her to the throne of her mother and to clear your name. While you look for the girl though, you obtain powers from a mysterious man known only as the “Outsider,” and train said powers up to help make you the most formidable pawn on the board.

Sound like a bit much to take in? That’s not all. The world of Dunwall is a whaling city based on Victorian England, with some sci-fi technology worked in. A local scientist has recently made advancements using whale oil to power almost everything.

The technology is new and gritty. It’s captivating, from advanced street lighting and guns to motorized boats and special walls of light that vaporize intruders. Any fan of steampunk (a near-exact concept, but everything is steam-powered), will find this world beautiful and fun to interact with.

- Advertisement -

The gameplay is fairly straightforward — the only problem is that those who aren’t familiar with first-person gameplay will have a difficult time coordinating camera movements (right toggle on the PS3 controller) with physical movements (left toggle). Corvo can equip objects to both hands, but can only perform magic with his left hand, so there are additional buttons to coordinate his various attacks and stealth movements that can be difficult to memorize if you aren’t used to doing so.

But that’s just for beginners. Once you’ve got your coordination figured out, the possibilities are endless.

You may be an assassin now, but Corvo can physically go through the entire game without killing a single person if the player tries hard enough. There’s even a special trophy for it. If you do choose to kill, however, there are plenty of ways to do it.

You can slow time, shoot people, walk over to get a better view, and then watch the carnage unfold in real time. You can “blink” (transport yourself a short distance away in any direction) out of the way of attacks, shoot people with a crossbow and take them out from behind quietly. You can set traps for your targets and unleash a hoard of ravenous rats to devour your enemies. According to game creators at E3 this year, beta testers were finding ways to kill characters in ways that weren’t even conceptualized when making the game.

Your powers are developed and strengthened through runes and whalebone charms. The Outsider gives you a means through which to collect these objects, and certain side missions will reward you with them as well. Without the Outsider’s tool, however, only chance will land you an artifact.

The voice acting is fairly good, and the characters are easy to identify with. You immediately despise those who set you up, even before you know what they’ve done, and you’re attached to Emily and Corvo before the ill-fated attack. The game is good at sucking you into the story as well as the gameplay. The plot itself would make a phenomenal book or television series.

The game is new, so it’s still expensive, but it’s worth every penny. “Dishonored” is available on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Game: “Dishonored

Maker: Bethesda

System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Rating: 5