Sitrep: Empty Explorers (or “You Only Live Once”)

Dishonored

By on July 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I’m just playing Dishonored now. I’m late to the party not because I’m a cool guy with loads of bitches (I’m really not, I sometimes read the dictionary on Saturday night). I’m late on this one ‘cos Dishonored was one of those “hype” games.

Hype games, I think, are really hard to see clearly when they first come out, ostensibly because the smoke belching from the hype train does its best to obscure any and all of those flaws that tend to become apparent much later when nobody cares anymore. I always wait (it’s also cheaper), just so I can experience this blown-up million-dollar thing with an unfettered gamer’s eye and judge it true.

Dishonored reminds me a lot of the time Tim and myself and just about all of fairest Game Sonnet were plums-deep in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. After slamming through this game for weeks, I remember Timbo saying, “Man, this thing is just so ultimately empty. I killed every last person in Detroit. Deserted streets for miles, and nobody at my workplace even seemed to notice. I remain a god to them, those fools.”  (Seems legit. –Ed)

He’d gone everywhere and done everything – reprehensible things, bless him – and come up empty. At the end of each one of Corvo’s killing sprees, a tally of all the cool things you found – basically how much you’d gone everywhere and done everything – pops up. I’m not much for sticking my beakage into every nook and fanny. I like to just roll with it and whatever happens, happens. That’s the misadventure.

So the first time this end-of-level tally got up in my mixed grill and pretty much said, “OMG you are $%@# at this game, bro, you have found like basically nothing hey,” my pride got to me and I spent the next mish obsessively going everywhere and doing everything. It dawned on me that, much like Human Revolution, what seems a dense and wide open world ripe with possibilities is not designed to be “tallied.”

There are so many different ways you can get where you’re going, but to go everywhere and do everything and feel good about your numbers at the end of the day means taking every one of those routes. It means making it to your objective through thick and thin, and then backtracking through all that creatively wrought carnage (or lack of it) to repeat your A to B in a different fashion.

It feels ridiculous and ultimately hollow, and strips this world and its wonderments down to a series of challenge maps: Guards here in this area, deal with it. Guards there in that area, now deal with that. Find all the stuff.

I don’t wanna see that reality. I’m Cypher here, man, put me back in the Matrix. I live for the world, and you only live once. Games of this ilk are totally #YOLO. Nothing blows the sheer joy of doing the – and I hate this term, it’s such a corporate buzzword and it’s gross – moment to moment thing than seeing every available outcome of that moment.

So I’m back into it. I’ve killed a lot of people and tripped alarms and possessed a prostitute by accident fumbling for my crossbow and I haven’t found nuttin’. My score is balls – and this is awesome, because I’m wondering just what’s going down in my wake and I’ll never know. Good.

12 comments (Leave your own)
Village idiot

… I think I get it.

 

I had similar issues to begin with when I played the original Deus Ex to be honest. I went through and tried to find every single method of getting into the Statue of Liberty at the start of the game because Experience Points. Same with the next few missions too. It’s a sad state of affairs to be sure…

 

It is a bit sad when the pacing dictates a need for high scores by doing everything the first time. Pity as there are many ways to handle that particular idea a lot better.

 

The problem is that achievements are used these days to pad out a lack of content.

 

Like you I’ve found more enjoyment if I use a bit of self control sometimes and just move on to a new area/level/whatever without going nuts looking for that one last secret/trying to get a perfect run, a lot of games seem to flow a lot better if you do that (Unsurprisingly).

 

I certainly had a lot more fun with Dishonored when I learned to stop worrying and love the rampage. I.e. instead of careful hours of planning and testing, I’d try to run on instinct, whether going for stealth or (more often) outright carnage. The game was about 100x more enjoyable this way.

Example, I spent a long time trying not to use guns because they are obviously the lame way to get through Dishonored. But wait, turns out they are really really satisfying and fun.

I would love to see a game which doesn’t give the player cues of any kind, beyond the basic “actions have consequences” type thing and dying.

Imagine Dishonored but instead of being locked into specific missions which you are involuntarily despatched on by random dudes at the pub to do their bidding, you start at the pub but have a totally open version of Dunwall in which to roam as you please. The dudes at the pub could have a chat with you and you could choose to sign up with them, but the extent of their control would be discussing the current obstacles to victory and asking you to help their cause.

You could then set out to roam the city at will, choosing where to go, who to kill, whether in fact to kill people or to seek other solutions, and all the while unaware of whether what you are doing is necessarily solving problems or not. Do you need to do things faster or can you afford to go slowly? Who knows? Will killing this guy actually help? Maybe? Are your choices making your mates happy? Perhaps? Etc.

Getting to the end of a game like that would be infinitely more satisfying.

That said I thought Dishonored was great – it was just a bit limited.

 
Loophole_62ndFF

Fully agree! Obsessing with scores, levelling and completion-ism reduces what could be a visceral experience to a mere Sudoku game. This is true of many games – both players and designers can get so focussed on the final destination that they forget that sometimes it is the journey that matters.

 

caitsith01:
I would love to see a game which doesn’t give the player cues of any kind, beyond the basic “actions have consequences” type thing and dying.
Imagine Dishonored but instead of being locked into specific missions which you are involuntarily despatched on by random dudes at the pub to do their bidding, you start at the pub but have a totally open version of Dunwall in which to roam as you please.The dudes at the pub could have a chat with you and you could choose to sign up with them, but the extent of their control would be discussing the current obstacles to victory and asking you to help their cause.
You could then set out to roam the city at will, choosing where to go, who to kill, whether in fact to kill people or to seek other solutions, and all the while unaware of whether what you are doing is necessarily solving problems or not.Do you need to do things faster or can you afford to go slowly?Who knows?Will killing this guy actually help?Maybe?Are your choices making your mates happy?Perhaps? Etc.
Getting to the end of a game like that would be infinitely more satisfying.
That said I thought Dishonored was great – it was just a bit limited.

I may have breezed over your description, but this sounds a little like the Hitman games pre-absolution.

 
kinistoniscool

LOVE dishonoured and deus ex hr, i agree with you toby :D

 

tacitus42: I may have breezed over your description, but this sounds a little like the Hitman games pre-absolution.

The older Hitman games still had ‘missions’ of a sort, didn’t they? I’m thinking no missions, just a city with people and stuff in it. But not a static, inert one like in GTA, one where a plot emerges from your actions without putting up huge signposts saying “YOU JUST DID A THING TO MAKE THE PLOT GO FORWARD”.

 

any and all of those flaws that tend to become apparent much later when nobody cares anymore

Dishonored has no flaws it is the perfect game, suggesting otherwise is an offense of the highest order against the gods of gaming.

 

spooler,

It made me nauseous when I played it and thus I haven’t completed it. Which is sad because I was loving it.

 
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