After a minor postponement we're back in to the fray! You've blinked, you've stabbed, you've shot, and you've wondered why the characters' hands are so damn big... It's time for the second part of our Dishonored Game Club.
Welcome back! Also, thank you everyone who has shown interest in Game Club, I really do appreciate it. Okay, so we'll take care of some business first, followed by some of my reflections on the game, your next assignment, and then I want to hear from all of you.
This is going to be filled with spoilers. If you haven’t played up to the completion of “House of Pleasure” things could possibly be ruined for you. Also, if you have played ahead (or already beaten the game) that’s fine, you’re welcome to participate, but please don’t talk about anything that happens after the end of the third mission. Please respect everyone’s opinion and let’s have some great discussion!
Things you should know about me: I am very critical and brutally honest. I respect other people’s opinions whole-heartedly and I won’t stubbornly try to change anyone’s perspective, but I also hope you'll give others that same courtesy. If you disagree with me, that's great! Tell me why I'm wrong and lets get the debate juices flowing.
When I initially launched the game I was pretty excited. I had never played it myself, or even watched gameplay really, but I’d read and heard countless positive comments regarding the game. “The story is great; maybe a little short, but great”, “The combat is so fluid”. People were literally professing their love for it, and when it was voted in for Game Club I thought, “Okay, enough putting it off, let’s play this thing”. My excitement dwindled, however, about 5 minutes in.
It didn’t completely die out, but when I was given the control tutorial stuff I couldn’t believe that games still show you how to play like that; as if an interactive tutorial showing you how to move is innovative. I get what they were doing, but it almost seemed to me like there was little thought that went into it. Frankly, I feel that way about the whole first mission. Maybe I’m one of the weirdos (quite possible), but I’d rather be shown the list of controls on a screen for a brief moment then spend my time playing hide and seek with a little girl; only to learn that’s how you sneak… and that’s it. Tutorial gripes aside, the whole intro bored me. I’m told that I’m Corvo, cool; that I am the guard of the Empress, neat; and that I possess some decent fighting ability, awesome. Then there is the hoopla about the plague and our nation/empire needing help. At this point, story-wise, I could be playing any number of the terrible wannabe “old-school” JRPG games that flood the iOS app store. This turns around, bear with me…
The empress is killed and the little girl that wasted my time making me play hide and seek is taken. I know it’s the very beginning of the game, but I feel like I should feel something here. I don’t. I don’t know this lady; I've talked to her for 45 seconds, and that little girl is a cookie-cutter little princess. Definitely not enough time establishing things and I can only hope that maybe more things are revealed or looked back upon later in the game. The beginning of a game is important (maybe the most important to me), because the set up tells my brain and heart whether I wish to exist in the world presented to me, and at that moment I was quite underwhelmed. The intro was quick, uninspired, and boring…
Then, I’m taken to prison. Things finally begin to pick up, and honestly I would have rather just started here and been told somehow that I was under arrest for the murder of the empress and then awoken in my cell. Intrigue rears its beautiful head finally with a hidden letter and I start to get a Count of Monte Cristo vibe (one of my favorite books). The action comes along and I dig the swordplay. The stealth feels very easy, but I figure it will ramp up. I drag myself through the prison and sewers still feeling a little disappointed, but that all changes when I meet Samuel.
Samuel takes me on a delightful boat ride to somewhere that’s finally interesting to look at. The opening dock and castle weren’t ugly, just bland, and the prison and sewers we’re… well how exciting can those really look? Interesting characters inject into the story and my strangled imagination begins to breathe. From the moment I enter the other world and talk to the Outsider, and learn some sweet (demonic?) powers, I am at long last sucked in. It was like a switch in my brain flipped and went from “This is boring, their faces look weird, I’ve already played Half-Life 2” to “I feel powerful, Piero is cool, if I blink any more my eyes will stay shut”. The open-ended levels the missions take place in feel alive and there is a sense of adventure that I just couldn't snag during the opening.
Admittedly, I still don’t feel anything towards what I’m doing. I’m all for getting revenge, especially with a sharp blade, but I still don’t feel emotion towards any of the events or people. My drive to keep playing is because I want to be a super-stealthy, assassin bad ass. The mission "High Overseer Campbell" finally shows me what this game is all about. I start to get a groove in the combat and that 'flow' I had heard about was right in front of me. The side missions are actually pretty fun and I find them more interesting than the main plot. "House of Pleasure" continues those feelings of things coming together and I start to feel like this is a game that gives you more as you give more. The more time and effort I put in, the more enjoyable the experience actually is.
This is getting long-winded... So, I know it's a bit of a trope, but I'll do the Love/Hate thing.
Love: Gameplay is really starting to shine now that things are moving at a fun pace. Level design is some of the best I've ever seen in an action game. Voice work is par for the course, but at least it's not bad. If there was an award for costume design in a video game I'd nominate this one pronto. Blink is as fun as everyone says it is.
Hate: Faces look bad, save a few, and the hands... why are they so big!? The story is most definitely found wanting. I'm not sure why I don't care about what's going on, but I am just not sold on anything; there is no willing suspense of disbelief here. There is way too much stuff to read... call me lazy, but I don't want to 'experience' the game world by reading 800 books/diaries/letters/notes. I don't. Fallout and Elder Scrolls barely get away with it for me.
Those are my thoughts. If it sounds like I dislike the game that's not the case. I actually really enjoy it, but like I said, I like to be hyper-critical.
I've heard from a few folks that 3 missions was a bit much considering how busy everyone can get, so you're next assignment will be a tad shorter.
Mission Briefing: Complete Mission 4 "The Royal Physician" and Mission 5 "Lady Boyle's Last Party"
We're knocking down the assignment length from 3 missions to 2. This gives people a little more breathing room. There's six missions left, so that gives us 3 more game clubs to wrap things up.
Remember to take everything in and bring something fun or interesting to the party.
This assignment will be due next Thursday 9/12.
Alright, now enough of all that. I want to hear what you have to say! Tell me what you like, don't like, or that you think I'm stupid. Feel free to post your own list of love/hate things, or describe how you feel in long form. Address me directly with questions if you like or ask a question of your own. You've got a lot of options here people, so I expect a lot of good discussion. I'll try and respond to everything posted, and, as always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns please hit me up. You can also contact me here.