I love a game that makes me think about how I can move in real life. During a holiday to Italy I would stare dreamily at churches or large courtyards, not in awe of the stunning architecture but because I would be thinking about how Ezio might climb his way to the top. Crackdown had me wondering which rooftops to leap between, Bionic Commando how to swing from lamppost to lamppost and Portal had me thinking in, well, portals. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that my favourite feature in Dishonored is Blink, a special power that lets you teleport around it’s steampunk world in 50 yard chunks to either evade guards or drop behind them to administer a swift choke (or shiv to the throat).
There are a host of other powers that let you feel like a murderous assassin too. You can see through walls for a limited time, turn bodies to ash or even summon a swarm of bloodthirsty rats to devour your foes alive. All of the more fun ones lend themselves to a stealthy approach and this does seem to be the way the game wants you to play. Like all the best stealth games getting discovered isn’t a game breaker and you can always resort to your trusty sword and handcannon to noisily and bloodily resolve a level (or just part of it).
There are some small problems. While enemies are comically unobservant (I would definitely notice a masked man crouching on a bus stop) once one of them sees you they all run over to your exact location straight away which breaks the illusion a little, even the standard ‘hey, he’s over there’ shout would smooth that over. But despite some little AI quibbles it’s a great game with some lovely touches. The Heart lets you read the inner thoughts of the characters around you and there is loads of flavour text in the form of journals and books.
Dishonored not only looks great but plays smoothly and perhaps most importantly makes me feel like I have the power of life and death over everyone around me. A classic power fantasy? Maybe, but that’s probably a topic for another time (and person). Go get it.