In this week’s DLC, Ander Breeding looks at the stealth and tank options in Dishonored and laments the lack of boundaries to either technique
I like when games offer choices that change one player’s game from another’s. It essentially ends up becoming your own story within the confines of what the developers created. After hearing that Dishonored lets you decide if you want to sneak around in the shadows or go nuts, leaving only a trail of death and destruction, I was more than excited.
I take issues with stealth games that don’t provide the tools necessary to handle situations when your character gets noticed. It’s a bummer when you have to restart a checkpoint over for the umpteenth time all due to the lack of these tools. I was enamored by Dishonored and how the developers actually let players hold their own when the character’s cover was blown.
For instance, say you accidentally used the Blink ability to teleport right in the middle of a guard patrol. Between Devouring Swarm (ravenous rats), Bend Time and Wind Blast, there is nothing you cannot handle when the alarm sounds. Of course, you could always just Blink to a rooftop and wait for the guards to give up on the chase if being a pacifist is more your thing.
All this would make Dishonored great, if it weren’t for the lack of boundaries. Choices are pointless without these boundaries. When I found out there were essentially none in Dishonored, I was confused as to why the developers didn’t see this as an issue. If the only things holding you back from just decimating everyone instead of sneaking around are minuscule, the mere idea of the player having choices is nothing more than a vapor. Adding more rats and Weepers (people infected with the rat plague) in the environment as well as barely changing the ending is not enough to keep someone on one path or another.
Once I figured this out, Dishonored ended up disappointing me a little. I still made my own fun and, in the end, that could be what Dishonored was going for. Still, when you say your game has choices that affect the world around you, making more impactful consequences are what make sandbox games enjoyable. Give me a sense that what I am doing, or not doing, in the world that you have created actually means something and makes me think of what my actions will do to help or hinder the rest of the story.
Thinking back, I could have been ok with the paper-thin consequences if the developers balanced the entire offensive powers with an equally diverse set of stealth powers. Dangling all of these killing proficient powers in front of the player with no real adverse side-effects for using them all the time can feel like the developers want you to play this way.
If I wanted to play a game that took the choices out of the equation so that I would play the way the developers intended me to play, I would load up any first-person shooter or the latest 2-D fighting game. At least then I will not be disappointed with the falsehood of my choices not really meaning much at all.