The first time you play through Dishonored, it’s very likely you’ll treat it like a stealth game. And why wouldn’t you? The game encourages sticking to the shadows, hiding corpses, or just avoiding conflict entirely. Yet throughout the game, you get all sorts of gear that doesn’t quite gel with the stealth gameplay. Explosive crossbow bolts, razor mines, and grenades don’t really scream a sneaky playstyle. So it wasn’t until my second time around that I really embraced the chaos, and I found that while Dishonored may be a decent stealth game, it’s an absolutely brilliant action title.
In Dishonored, you play as Corvo Attano, a vengeful bodyguard blessed by the supernatural powers of The Outsider. These powers have quite a bit of uses, and half of the game’s fun is finding out how to use them to their fullest potential. A guard firing at you? Stop time, possess him, and make him walk in front of the bullet. Target hanging around a balcony? Send him overboard with a blast of wind. Tallboys patrolling the street? Use the blink teleport to get on top of his massive walker and have your folding blade meet his throat. There are tons of unique and interesting powers that you can stack in creative ways, allowing you to make every encounter unique.
Corvo’s arsenal only enhances his powers, giving even more ways for you to cause mayhem. Need a grenade to travel further? Give it a windblast. Need to get enemies distracted? Fire your pistol into the air and blink up the rooftops. It’s really amazing how many cool possibilities for total insanity you have at your disposal, and how all of them can come together to create a primal sort of fun that’s a far cry from the game’s stealth options.
What’s great is that once you’ve decided to engage in combat, there are more ways to do so that just hacking at enemies with your sword in a direct assault. You can play it more like The Predator, blinking around to keep the guards on their toes while picking them off one by one, or like Dio Brando with constant time stopping and crossbow-firing. It certainly helps that your projectiles have many different alternate ammo options, such as incendiary or explosive, if you want to just make anything and everything in your sight go up in flames.
However, out of the game’s toolbox of weaponry, one stands head and shoulders above the others. The razor tripmine is exactly what it sounds like, a small proximity mine that launches tons of tiny razors that slice enemies into meaty chunks. Once it’s deployed, there’s no cleaning up the mess, but the sheer spectacle of tiny blades and wires turning an armed guard into mincemeat is worth that price.
Dishonored bills itself as a stealth game, and it’s a perfectly fine one, but the fun I had sneaking around corners and keeping to the shadows was colossally dwarfed by that I had killing everything in sight. Sure, Dishonored’s story and morality system sure don’t encourage it, but the next time you find yourself in the city of Dunwall with uncontrollable magic and powerful firearms at your fingertips, try listening to that devil on your shoulder every once in awhile.