Welcome to Up Up Down Down, GameZone's latest original weekly feature. Here we'll be looking at some games to have launched over the past few years and tearing them apart, limb from digital limb.
Oh, I'm just joking … a little. What we're actually going to do — well, what I'm going to do (because I won't drag the rest of GZ down with me into the dark, pitiful depths I frequent so often) is take a game, whether revered or panned, and talk about what's good and bad about it. Think of it as a review, but with an equal number of pros, or Ups, and cons, or Downs. Surely it can't be that difficult to understand, right?
So now that you have the gist of it, let's take a look at a fairly recent game: Dishonored from developer Arkane Studios and publisher Bethesda Softworks. It's no secret that this title was well received, but it wasn't without a few flaws. Let's take a look at everything that made Dishonored so great, as well as the things that made it frustrating and confusing at times.
Up Up: Play your way
Arguably the main reason to play Dishonored is the openness that it presents you with. You can literally play the game in any number of ways, something that a lot of other titles claim but ultimately fail to deliver. If you want to stealth your whole way to the end and refrain from killing enemies, you can do so. Alternately, if you're one of those hard-boiled types, you could very well just stab and shoot your way through. If you're anything like me, you could also choose to mix the two styles and engage in both stealth and action. The options are there, and the choice is yours.
Down Down: Stealth can be a pain
If you choose to play Dishonored entirely as a stealth game, you're going to have to accept that it comes with some not-so-pleasant stealth game tropes. Aside from getting a bit repetitive, this genre is also known to cause copious amounts of frustration. This frustration is rooted in trial and error and requires more patience than some folks may have. I tried to play Dishonored this way, but after realizing that it was monotonously difficult and frustratingly tedious, I decided to only kill when absolutely necessary. You'll probably spend more time playing if you go the stealth route, but a lot of that time may be spent doing the same things over and over and failing repeatedly.
Up Up: You could totally get your money's worth
It's awesome when a game gives you a lot of value for your dollar. Dishonored is definitely one of those games, despite being totally subtle about it. Sure, you could stick to the main story missions, but if you do so, you're really depriving yourself of some equally fun side quests. Seeking out specific characters, searching for items, scouring alternate locations, and exploring are all things that make Dishonored a beefier game, and a lot of the time, these activities are well worth your attention.
Down Down: You could finish way too soon and feel cheated
Dishonored is really one of those experiences that gives you as much as you put into it, and you could spend upwards of 40 hours soaking everything in or see the ending in one sitting. If you choose to do the latter, chances are you'll end up feeling a bit underwhelmed. While that certainly isn't the case for everyone, the open nature of the game means you could stick to main mission strands and miss a lot of the fun that's buried deep in this deceptively lengthy package. In all honesty, that's a damn shame, because some people will probably miss a lot of the fun that there's to be had here.
Up Up: That Victorian style is rad
A lot of people have touted Dishonored as having a steampunk flair to it. While I wouldn't entirely disagree, it almost seems that the game is a bit less steampunk and just more straight-up Victorian. While fans of the style may be a bit confused, it's really not a bad thing. Dishonored doesn't need to be completely based on steampunk themes. What it does carry from the genre, however, is portrayed quite successfully and helps to give the whole adventure an immense sense of style.
Down Down: The game doesn't look too great
While playing Dishonored on the PC will obviously give you the best results, the overall look of the game isn't particularly outstanding. It's kind of a bummer, because the rad tone would've certainly benefited from a superbly crafted graphical engine. Aside from the standard graphics, the animations are really rough. NPC movements are just about as close to last-gen rigidness as possible. Normally I don't care about this kind of thing, but it really stood out to me and really took a toll on the visual presentation.
Left Right Left Right: Play Dishonored to enjoy it
I once read an article on another website that basically implied if you don't get a lot of hours out of Dishonored, you're playing it the wrong way. In all honesty, some folks may be totally cool with a four-hour run, while others will enjoy a slow burn. I'm not going to sit here and tell you how to play Dishonored, because only you know how you'll enjoy it the most. I will, however, recommend that you do with it what you know will give you the most entertainment. If you like longer games but get through this one in less than a day, don't complain, because the content is there for you to delve into. If you hate stealth games but try to sneak through the entire thing, you've only got yourself to blame for your frustration.
Dishonored is a unique and interesting game that allows you to play around with it to your heart's content. It undeniably has some quirks, but most of the time, these can be overlooked in favor of the fact that this is one giant play set. That's exactly how you need to see it so you can create an experience that's properly suited for your gaming needs. If only it looked a little bit nicer. Meh. At least it's fun!
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.