Dishonored is one of the few games I've ever played where a direct recommendation of "play this with a controller/keyboard and mouse" cannot be made. Generally speaking, I enjoy playing stealth games with a controller. Stealth, like racing games, is a genre that benefits greatly from analog sticks. At the heart of a great stealth game is nail-biting tension and suspense. Vulnerability is stressed through risk outweighing reward. On a keyboard, all of your inputs are static. Are you pressing up? Good, you're moving up. Jolting an analog stick up can mean the difference between shuffling silently and bringing in nearby ears for inspection. Even in games where this choice tends to be an illusion, it heightens the already high stakes of weaving in and out of crowded spaces as little more than a specter in the night. If that's how you choose to play Dishonored, I recommend it. Leaning and inventory management can feel a little less natural than they would on a keyboard, but they're functional and aren't as distracting as they could potentially be. In the words of Godd Howard himself, "it just works."
The other side of the coin is this: combat-based playthroughs require vastly more precision than two analog sticks can allow. Far from the stealth game half of this game is, aggressive playstyles in Dishonored turn the game into a psychotically frenetic action-platformer about style. The ability to teleport goes from a neat tool for traversing large areas undetected to a weapon that allows you to change your position on the fly. Double jumping allows you to exploit the verticality of each level, creating moments where countering an attack means raising a blade from above as often as it does parrying a swing. Grenade kills are a gory spectacle that separates torsos from limbs and then torsos from themselves. But this brutality exists for more than shock value alone. Each decapitated body part can be picked up and thrown to be used as a distraction or to stagger oncoming attacks. Being of the same lineage of Dark Messiah, Dishonored features a host of supernatural abilities to go alongside teleportation, one of which allows you to throw enemies to the ground with a gust of wind. Paired with the ability to stop time completely, falling bodies go from quick executions to rather grim bridges used to access nearby rooftops. Also paired with the ability to turn the weapons of your enemies into your own, it allows you to disintegrate unaware platoons. As both a stealth game and a power fantasy, Dishonored succeeds.
As a narrative? I don't know what to tell you. This is where things start to get a little bit more complicated. At the heart of Dishonored isn't its cast of characters or the journey you go on but the morality of your actions. The choice to go silent or to leave bodies in your wake is one not only made for your character but the world he lives in. Going on a murderous rampage causes everyone to hate you while the world falls to shit. It's daring and bold, and I can't say it works entirely because this game loves to give you tools to just murder the fuck out of everyone. Your supernatural powers can be used to sneak around guards. But when upgrades can make my powers deadlier while others encourage me to go on thoughtlessly violent killing sprees, I don't know if I feel like the game is trying to instill any morals in me and succeeding in its job. Especially since the detail of this setting only makes me care about the characters I'm told to get rid of, the non-violent approach to Dishonored's narrative can feel a bit hollow.
Outside of that, though, this is one of the best immersive sims I've ever played. This is one of those quintessential 'reload your save every five minutes' games, and it's always a blast to revisit. I do wish its attitude toward women were a little friendlier. I wouldn't say it's the most misogynistic game I've ever played, but averypaledog's review hits the nail on its head.
Reviewed on Mar 20, 2023
2 months ago
Actually a fun fact about my first playthrough with the game is that i loved that mission, first i killed her in a hitman style, but then just after she was dead i wanted to see how is the other route, after finishing the non lethal way i felt bad and went back to actually killing her, that was in my first run which was the peaceful one btw.
2 months ago
Yeah, misogynistic was probably too harsh a term. What I was trying to get at was, 'isn't it gross how the only woman antagonist in this rouge's gallery has 'being trapped with someone who will no doubt SA her' as her non-lethal option, even though none of the men are subjected to a fate as horrifying?' If I'm not mistaken, one of the developers (might have been a lead designer? I don't remember) stated that they regretted having that as an option in a tweet they've since deleted.
Other than that, though, yeah! I absolutely agree with you when you say that that mission rules. It's easily one of the best in the entire game.
2 months ago
May i ask how is the non-lethal approach to Lady Boyle misogynistic? i disagree with the game that its considered pacifist approach since in my opinion its more curel than killing her, but im not sure we can conclude from it that the game is anti women.
Was there something I've missed?