I’ve owned dishonoured for ages, but never actually played it. This might seem a bit daft, given its reputation, but it was partially that reputation that kept me away. I was waiting for a period when I felt like game playing, and when I had a few days available to do so. Christmas this year has fitted the bill.

image: a screenshot from dishonoured showing the city river

Also, to be honest, I started to play it a couple of years ago, and got put off by the introduction. Now, it’s a bit silly, playing a game one knows to be violent, to be put off by violence, but I was actually more put off by the fact that, that time, I was completely ineffectual against the initial baddies. This time round, I got them all, at least all those I was allowed to get. It helps to read the tutorials before you play! The game play is fine, incidentally; I had a picnic.

So why review something that’s not so new? There are a gadzillion reviews of dishonoured out there, it’s an old game, so why bother adding another? That’d be rather like saying Treasure Island was written centuries ago, lots of people reviewed it at the time, so why bother adding another? Why bother reacting to and enjoying an elderly piece of art? Why bother saying what one feels at all? The thing is, most reviews are written when a game, or a book, or many a product, first comes out, because the publisher, etc., needs the sales to recover costs. That’s fine. But the product, if it’s any good, or even if it’s not, will last a lot longer than that first few days or weeks. You cannot really be confident that a review rushed in the first few days can grasp the greater impact of the game, whereas a review written years later will be written with knowledge of what happened afterwards, so can put the game in the context of the development of the artform. So I do believe that reviews of older games, or older anything, are necessary.

My initial impressions are rather good. The cyberpunk, decrepit pseudo–London setting–cum–scenery is rather impressive: the designers appear to have done an excellent job. The music is both interesting and feels original, in terms of style, form and scope, and I’m looking forward to hearing more as the game progresses. The characterisation … mmm … so far has been a bit clichéd and wooden, to be honest, but it’s a game, an older game at that, and I’ve been playing some games all about characterisation and plot recently, so I probably shouldn’t complain: lets just say that this game was a solid step on a road that I’ve already travelled.

I’ve just played the scene where The Outsider, a local God, first intervenes. First of all, let me say straight away that he looks nothing like a member of The Outsiders, one of the lesser bands of the 1970s punk period. Instead, he comes across to me as an arrogant, self–opinionated muppet. Now, ok, fair enough, he’s a God, so he’s got every reason to be arrogant and self–opinionated, but he has no reason to look and sound like a right muppet. You can justly say lots of nasty things about the Christian God, but I don’t think you can rightly call Him a muppet. Perhaps the inspiration for the not–a–punk comes to another mythology. I guess one has to look back, not at the Christian or other Adamist pixies, but at the older Greek and Roman concepts of Gods, to understand the ideas explored here. He might be a better fit to other culture’s pantheons, actually, but I’m rather too ignorant of them to comment. Still, the muppet feels like he’s … erm, sorry, He’s … going to add a fun, get out of jail free, egoist, aren’t I wonderful I’ve got a God up my arse, element to the plot.

And, talking about the plot, well, I can’t. I’ve been through the setup, but I’ve got no further. I’ve experienced the evil planners’ evil deeds, and have now met the first of the brotherly band of goodies, and their female minions. In other words, it feels like the characterisation: dated, simplistic and gamey — but, then, dishonoured, it is a game, where a plot is often a luxury and it’s good to have something because often one gets nothing. Whether I’ll like it or object to it as it develops, I have no clue. It could go either way. It does, though, from these initial forays, appear to be solid enough to support and enhance the game. I feel it has the same kind of relationship to the game as the plot does in Deus Ex.

Continued in ending dishonoured.