Starting with Dishonored 1.
Years ago on the Xbox 360, I played this Dishonored 1 and thought it was a fantastic game. Playing the assassin of some steampunk, French nobility was a well designed and conceived game.
It is important to the overall review of the series to point out things I liked such as the atmosphere, art style, collection of parts to level up your equipment or abilities. Mostly it was the story or the mechanic using back alleys and open high rise building windows to sneak around.
The story with spoilers is you are caught up in an attempt to wrest power and must clear your name by saving the kidnapped princess.
In this setting is a mystical being called the outsider who resides in a place called the void, and he essentially triggers magical powers in the protagonist which can be used in your assassinations.
Mechanically, there is also this great morality system where if you go non-lethal, which I found harder to plan out, or going lethal which was more direct, it altered the environment such as creating more rats and altered the ending of the plotline.
Also relating to the over all three game review I need to explain one of the magical powers which allowed you to teleport over short distances. You disappeared from where you are and materialized where you wanted to be, with various upgrades allowing you to teleport further or higher.
While Dishonored 1 is an old game I highly recommend it as lot’s of fun, has interesting gameplay, a beautiful environment and an interesting story and protagonist.
Now looking at Dishonored 2.
In this game, you get a choice. You can play as your old favourite assassin Corvo from the first game, or you get to play as a new female protagonist. The back story of the female is a natural progression from the first game and makes perfect sense right from the start.
Your Magic powers are similar but different enough to slightly alter how you plan out your moves. For instance, your magical movement if you chose the female does not teleport but rather slingshots you over the distance you seek to travel. What this means is as Corvo you would not be seen doing this, but as the female you do have a chance to be seen. I liked this slight shift between players and their abilities.
The Visuals of the game were far better than the first and given how much I loved the first game this was something I appreciated.
My only criticism was that in the second game they went overboard in its item collection and crafting. Compared to the first game where item collection was an interesting side mission to help explore the area, in this game, it became annoying and boring.
What they did was make each power cost twice as much in collected items and when you looked at the map, the map looked littered with stuff to pick up. This took longer and subtracted from the flow of the main storyline.
But both Corvo, and the new female protagonists where interesting characters to play with logical back stories.
In summary of game two I also highly recommend it.
Sadly I can’t recommend this one as high as the first two. While I did not like this game as much it still has the “Dishonored DNA” in its gameplay. So if you treat it less like a game and more as a large DLC, thereby lowering your expectations, it is still a good game to play, but in no way is it as good or better than the first two.
Initially, the main protagonist felt forced and shoehorned in. You can clearly see that, already back when they were designing the second game they had this DLC in mind. The protagonist you play is a side character in Dishonored 2, and she says little cryptic things in the second game along the lines of she has a past and regrets it etc. Another obvious tell that they intended for her to be the main protagonist especially given our current socio-political cultural climate, was that she has a trifecta of disadvantage traits, she is a woman, tick, add a person of colour, tick and let’s add disability also, check.
It would have been really interesting to play as an assassin with a disability, but they just give her an arm right at the start and ignore her missing eye making all the physical design for this character pointless. Imagine playing an assassin who has to put down her blade to use her magic, or to open a door. Or having to rely on sound from your speakers to detect enemies on the blind side where you can’t see.
She is a character who was bad due to life’s hardships turned good and she meets another character who was in the first game a bad person who now has also mysteriously turned good. So even though there are clear lore trails from the first two games into these characters, they don’t have the same natural flow in the back story like the female protagonist you are introduced to in Dishonored 2.
The main plot outline had me really excited, this time you are going after the outsider himself. Yet the story didn’t excite in execution and game as much as I had anticipated and I think this had more to do with the fact that the main protagonist was not nearly as captivating or well written.
Further to the lack of excitement experienced in-game was that the visual assets all looked straight from the second game. I just wrote how much I loved the beauty of the second game, yet in a third game it served to make me feel like I was actually still playing the second game not a new game.
I also found some of the changes to how powers worked to be a step backwards.
I will give two examples. First the magic movement power in the first two games you squeezed the trigger to aim, then release the trigger to move. total of one complete action. In the third game, you squeeze and release the trigger to aim and again squeeze and release the trigger to move, a total of two full actions in a power you use all the time, making the gameplay feel more clunky.
Another example was the magic power cells are gone. You no longer have to worry about not having access to your magic. The magic depletion and automatic refill system feel like it was made so things wouldn’t too difficult for young players. (Please note this is not to say I recommend this game for really young kids drawing your attention to the ratings and subject matter in-game.) Now they can just continually keep using the power after a couple of seconds recharge.
PS. I have to say I loved the new face stealing power.
So would I recommend Dishonored 3?
I have to say no, if you are new to the franchise.
I would have to say no if you are an old veteran of the series and was expecting the same calibre of creativity and storytelling or character creation.
But If you are an old fan of the series who wants to revisit the world and add some more world lore, then I would recommend this game not as a stand-alone game but as a large DLC for Dishonored 2. Especially as the core gameplay DNA and mechanics are still present, doing the missions is still fun.