Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dishonored but Impressed

Today I write to you from the fourth floor of the Hotel Vaneau Saint Germain in Vaneau, Paris. I've got my laptop parked firmly in place on top of the main table in the room. It's a decent little set up actually. What is unfortunate is that it's situated right in front of a large brown rimmed mirror. So If I glare away from my monitor in need of a moment of literary inspiration the first thing I see is my own face, unshaven and fatigued from an early morning flight. Not very inspiring I can assure you but please read on.

I'm here visiting the Chen who is currently studying in the outskirts of Paris at one of the top business school in France - Hautes ├ęstudes commerciales de Paris or HEC Paris. She is staying at her dorm on campus in a place called Jouy-En-Josas. Apologies to all its residents and any fans of the place but Jouy is a gloomy Parisian village, liken it to a dull British village in the countryside but add in a generic Italian Restaurant, a Supermarket called 'Simply' that doesn't sell cigarettes and a faux American style university campus and you've got it. To add to its overall hopelessness Jouy is 19km outside of Paris connected poorly to the centre by a combination of irregular post-apocalyptic looking trains and metros. For fear of coming across as negative there is good news and that is that Paris itself is a wonderful place. Now this all sounds very bourgeois and it absolutely is but we'll come back to the Paris story later, right now I really want to talk about video games.

Encumbered by work ever since I moved to Singapore I seldom have time to indulge in one of my favourite hobbies; playing video games. This fact is an unfortunate side effect of working in operations; you’re always crazy busy. What’s even more unfortunate is that I’d list video games in my top 10 favourite things to do of all time; potentially I’d place it in my top 5. Hold back those tears of capitalism for me though because all is not lost I do have brief spurts of indulgence in my hobby when a good game is released. A good game like a good film, TV show, book or play can engross you. I lose myself inside the game and cannot stop until I've completed it. At Christmas when I was back home I decided to be lavish and splurge on a new game I'd seen splashed across the Internet that had received a very positive welcome. A game called Dishonored.
Developed by Arkane Studios and Published by Bethesda. Released in 2012 for PC and all major consoles.

Released in 2012, developed by Arkane Studios and Published by Bethesda – Dishonored is a first person action / adventure game set during the dark industrial era. The game takes place in the fictional city of Dunwall; a city in the depths of despair a as a plague runs rampant throughout.

I bought the game from a second hand store that has opened sometime since my departure from Sunderland 4 years ago, I forget the name. My friend, an awesome chap by the name of Leyton works there. Hopefully boosting his commission or my imaginary KPI's I'd given him while at the same time seeing a good friend and of course getting discount I was killing four birds with one stone. I got home and instantly installed the game on my laptop. It installs through Steam which worried me but it went through pretty quickly and smoothly. This was the first game I'd played on a PC for a while, well the first new game since getting my new all-powerful Samsung laptop almost 10 months prior. 
 As the game booted up for the first time I sat in a comfy chair my right hand perched over my external mouse with a cup of freshly brewed tea in reaching distance. This for me must have how Buddha felt when he reached enlightenment. I was outrageously excited before the game had even started and within minutes of it unfolding I was completely captivated by its story line, its crossover stunning visuals, its art direction, the extensive weaponry and supernatural abilities. The game can be dark, very dark. It can also be psychedelic and in some points border line psychotic. The game for me is like a cocktail of 1 part Fallout and 2 parts Thief.

Corvo using his Wind ability

You play as Corvo Attano, a body guard to the empress. You return from a reconnaissance mission trying to seek answers to the current plague and as you embrace the empress to deliver her the grim spoils of your mission she is murdered right before your eyes. Her daughter, Lady Emily is also seized and in the frantic aftermath you framed for her murder and forced to become an assassin, seeking revenge on the traitors and conspirators. Corvo is aided during his quest by the Loyalists—a rebel group fighting to reclaim Dunwall from the arms of corruption and the Outsider—a powerful spiritual being who endows Corvo with supernatural abilities.

As the came progresses you unlock a vast array of weaponry and a multitude of special abilities to help in your cause. A combination of weapons and the abilities allows for a variety of take-downs from silent stealth to all out destruction. Missions can be completed through stealth, combat or a combination of both. Exploring each level opens new paths and alternatives for accomplishing mission goals. The game has multiple endings and the final outcome of the game depends entirely on the choices made by the player on their journey through this powerful and unforgettable game. Well done Arkane Studious, please bring us another game of this caliber. If you’re a gamer and you haven’t yet played Dishonored, go out and buy it now.

I’ll leave you with one of the games many pieces of powerful dialogue;

"Someday this place will devour all the lights in the sky"