For Select Start Media, formerly Pearly Music and Kooloo-Limpah, 2012 was a big year. We started focussing on games, made first contact with game developers and publishers, had representation at Australia’s biggest gaming expo. We also took on a number of new writers, Nick and Brendon. This next award is given to Nick’s pick for Game of the Year from 2012 (well, actually, his second pick, as all three of us agreed on the game that will eventually go on to win the top nod). And the winner is…
Dishonored. Just saying the name of the game brings back happy memories. Playing as… whoever the protagonist is, players are given the task of eliminating particular persons and the skills of a supernatural assassin, perfectly blending elements from the Hitman, Thief and Assassin’s Creed series to make the most satisfying experience of 2012 gaming.
I should also state that I felt no connection whatsoever to any characters in the game. Not the delightful girl the protagonist is meant to protect (Emily, I think?), the protagonist himself (seriously, what’s his name? I know I could look it up but I’d actually prefer the mystery) (it’s Corvo–Matt), the motley crew of rebellious men; none of them really did it for me, even though the voice-acting was spot-on. The plot was vaguely interesting, though the twist can be spotted well, well before its revealed, and the aesthetic appeal only really worked for some people (myself included).
No, it’s not the characters, plot or graphics that make Dishonored such a great game. These factors are embedded in my mind as being a negative factor to the game simply because they were stopping me from having fun with everything else the game had to offer. The gameplay is absolutely fantastic. Whereas many stealth-action games will penalize players for not remaining undetected or will make stealth terribly boring and unrewarding, Dishonored guarantees that everyone will be pleased.
The entire game can be completed without killing a single character, a strange characteristic for an assassination-based title, and although this path requires more patience and tact, the pay-off is oh-so satisfying. If this doesn’t suit your style, you can slaughter every NPC (okay almost every NPC) in the game for funsies, in a crazily vast number of ways, which is arguably equally satisfying yet in a very different way. The path you choose has a great impact on how the final level plays out as well. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that I took the stealthy/non-lethal route through the whole game, while a friend killed every damned thing he could, and we had such a different experience on the final level that my jaw dropped, quite literally. And that’s pretty rare.
The trailers for Dishonored promised me some satisfying kills/pacifications using a variety of weapons and skills in a multitude of fashions, ensuring continually developing gameplay that never became a chore. I was silently afraid this assurance may be more than the game could handle, but instead it over delivered like I couldn’t believe.