Dishonored: A Waste of Time

Dishonored MovieOh right! That’s why I stopped playing videogames!

I was really getting baffled for a while there. I had started things up again with a strong dose of GODHAND and Arkham City. I was gettin’ my Crazy Taxi on. Shit, I was unwrapping myself some Dark Souls, downloading DmC3[1], re-acquainting myself with some Dead Rising. And the whole damn time I was wondering why I had ever left this glorious land, wondering why I would abandon such bountiful harvest. Everywhere I looked, I saw crunchy, tight gameplay. And so I got sloppy. I starting reading some IGN[2]. I skimmed some Joystiq. Yea, I walked from the path of Action Button. I mean come on, it had been almost 4 years! Things have come far right? And then this turd falls into my fucking lap.

Dishonored has you as Corvo, some protector to some empress. You get framed for her murder so it’s time to bust outta prison and GET SOME REVENGE. The core gameplay revolves around . . . well, I’m not really sure what it revolves around. I’m honestly not confident there IS any core gameplay. It just feels like some shooting here, some shitty magic stapled on the side and hey let’s throw in some stealth because assassin. We’ll Dive Deep[3] on the gameplay, but I just gotta take a second to take about the intro because, WOW. How can you make an introduction that bad? Don’t get me wrong, I understand that introductions are the hardest part of any sequential art[4]. But just . . . WOW guys. Okay, so that incoming boat sequence. You driving me through a ditch? Are you for real? The reason these ‘drive by shit’ sequences work so well in HL2[5] is cause they DRIVE BY SHIT. They let you get a FEEL for the world you’re in! It’s setting the stage. What’s the feel here? I go through a ditch, with no view, into some cave, to report some shit to some chick who’s spymaster is an obvious creeper? Did I just passRadial Menu a CRATE IN THE SEWERS???[6]

But okay, okay, that’s just the first 10 or so minutes; surely it gets better right? Because after all, that’s when the game REALLY begins. Even Space Giraffe had a weak intro! Once you start the real game, dive into dat good crunch . . . that’s when things get baller, eh?

No, my fine sir/sir-ette; that’s when they get anything BUT baller. Indeed, it’s not until the game starts that you can truly appreciate how horrendously RETRO this game truly is.

To be clear, I don’t mean retro in a GODHAND way[7], or even in a ZELDA way[8]; I mean retro in a RETROGRADE way. This game gazes upon two decades of advancement in it’s genre and decides . . . ‘meh’. What’s this about effortless ability swaps? Eh, we’ll just put in programmable quick select wheel and call it a day. Fuck yeah, side missions in the middle of CRITICAL (supposedly) TIME-LIMITED (supposedly) STORY MISSIONS. Oh hey, weak-half-baked powers that our weak-non-baked level design render even MORE useless!

Corvo WantedAnd I just don’t get it. How can you do that? How can you spend so much time in development, so much time thinking and scoping and delivering and slipping and failing and always sprinting always sprinting, how can you do all that and miss that omnipresent FACT that your game isn’t a REAL game? I can’t sit down, without the ‘story’ without the ‘menus’, without the ‘controller’, and just FEEL your game. I can’t SEE, in my minds eye, the heft of Corvo sliding. I can’t FEEL, in my ears skin, the sudden gasp of reality when I Blink from one shittily laid out rooftop to another. There’s just no heart here guys.

And goddamnit it just makes me sad. No it makes me MAD. Why’d I even start this all up again? Can’t these fools see how close they GOT? Can’t they just TASTE the future to which they so UNWITTINGLY came close? By barest inches they grazed past brilliance, by a HAIR they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Just structure your game cleanly! Minutes in the menus over SECONDS in the MOMENT! Kill the inventory! Gimme Levels that I can really VERB[9] at!

Oh RIGHT! That’s why I started playing videogames again!


[1] Holy shit, you can download, like, real titles now? Not just swag indie shit, but swag disc shit too? And damn, hard drive space!

[2] The GODHAND review, it was in the past! And hey, didn’t they put it on some top 100 list or something?

[3] Amazon Leadership Principles REPRESENT

[4] Other Hardest Part: endings, middles, the whole thing, etc.

[5] A game Dishonored copies SO HARD it’s creepy . . .


[7] RETRO == respect_for(&past) && !reverence_of(&past)

[8] RETRO == reverence_of((&past + SOME_RANDOM_CONSTANT))



Adam Burch was put on this Earth to play God Hand and chew bubble gum . . . and HE’S ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM! He programs robots and videogames and is ruining esports. He wants to start a game studio one day, release a spiritual sequel to God Hand and live the rest of his days bitter that it didn’t make him filthy rich. Read his blog Thus Spoke Pi or follow him on Twitter @roughly22over7.