Back in October 2012, while waiting for Halo 4 to be released, I preordered Dishonored–a game I knew little about other than “stealth/killing/cool mask.” It looked like a sadistic Splinter Cell, so I figured, what the hell, I’ve got a month to kill.
And kill I did–the world of Dunwall, with whale oil-based mechanics, the very dirty and corrupt ruling class, and the magic the Outsider gifts to protagonist Corvo all combine to form a very distressing world. Even winning the game, you still feel dirty at what you had to do to get here. Dishonored #1 continues that feeling, unsettling you and showing you how fetid and murky the human condition can be, even when the good guys “won.” Now, ask yourself: is it any good?
Yeah, that mask is too intense for most mirrors Corvo.
Dishonored #1 picks up several years after the events of the first game, so buyer beware, there are some spoilers that you’ll discover immediately, and I’m going to touch on a few here. The Empress is back in power (which one!?!), and Corvo now serves as her Royal Protector. We see him training new recruits as our story opens, but he’s keeping his powers secret, as the rank and file would not understand.
You don’t want to mess with the Royal Protector.
Of course, being a scummy city full of degenerates, Dunwall needs both a Royal Protector and an Outsider, so at night we see Corvo don his mask and make his way across the rooftops to see what the criminal element is doing in his unfair city, using stealth, his powers, and his ability to kill silently and thin the ranks of the scum still biting at the edges of his Empress’ kingdom.
Is It Good?
Hell yes, with a caveat.
The things that made Dishonored so well liked as a game were its excellent gameplay mechanics and its setting. Corvo was a bit of a blank canvas for you to hang your own face on, but his abilities and powers just made being him a blast. The real star of the game, and now the book, is Dunwall. This series starts off very strong, capturing that stinking port and all its vices incredibly well, including the art style which is doing an excellent job of sketchily depicting a real city with real problems.
The caveat: this is a bit of a bleak and hopeless world. If you’re not interested in the hero being a tarnished bit of tin in a world of rust, this might not feel right for you as Corvo, our good guy, kills indiscriminately, and our bad guys are just as bad.
If you liked the game, this will feel like a great prequel to the sequel that’s about to release. If you’re curious, I say pick it up, and see how the dark side lives.