The Primer Loop
Dishonored is not without its share of problems. The silent protagonist thing gets a little old, especially during moments when you just wish Corvo would just speak up. And though the AI overall usually performs admirably, given the open-endedness of most situations, it's jarring when enemies fail to notice that their buddies are dropping like flies, or when the same line is repeated across all nine levels by a dozen different soldiers. And while I give the world's overall look and lore a standing ovation, there are some major texture issues.
I feel I should share another phenomenon that affected my experience. I called it the Primer Loop. Primer is a 2004 indie time travel film in which a well-meaning scientist becomes obsessed with repeating a single evening over and over until the reality matches the image in his mind. Dishonored allows you to save and load at any point, and I often found myself falling into a similar pattern, saving every few minutes and re-loading to that point until I did everything perfectly. It's a personal flaw of mine, but I would have honestly preferred not to have that option at all.
Small flaws and personal weaknesses aside, Dishonored is the type of game that begs to be played over and over. It's truly empowering to freeze time, send crossbow bolts into a half-dozen enemies' skulls, and watch them all turn to ash in unison (thanks to another ability that's helpful to stealth players). And a cast of memorable and well-acted characters (Susan Sarandon almost steals the show as Granny Ragsâ€”just wait and see) sweetens the whole package even further.
Dishonored co-creator Harvey Smith told me in an interview late in September that he wanted players who made it to the end of the game to feel as if they'd only seen about 30 percent of what it had to offer. And even though I completed most missions painstakingly, exploring everywhere I could and taking the vast majority of enemies out by stealthy means, my first urge upon finishing was to start again, taking a totally different approach, so that I could see the rest of it. And there's no greater compliment than that.