Dishonored‘s steampunk world is one of the more interesting settings to appear in video games during the last decade or so. “Steampunk” is such a buzzword these days and it’s honestly been done to death, but Dishonored feels fresh, intriguing and inviting. It’s ripe for further exploration, and thankfully we’re getting just that with the newly-released comic series. The question is: is it an honorable effort?
The comic tries to appeal to newcomers by providing a quick introduction to all that has transpired: it’s been 12 years since the protagonist Corvo had his name cleared for the assassination of the Empress Jessamine. These days, Corvo is in the employ of royalty as a type of personal guard. A rather dubious distinction, particularly since his daughter Emily was none other than the offspring of the deceased Empress herself. He’s trying to shake off his past and secure a more promising future, as well as finding a worthwhile successor. Naturally, the best laid plans always fall victim to circumstance, and it’s not long before Corvo comes across a conspiracy that threatens his world.
Besides the emotional ties he has to his work, Corvo finds himself in a less than ideal spot due to his flirtation with the supernatural. Is he still human? Perhaps something more, or something less? It’s a classic literary struggle and little more than a thinly-veiled reference to substance abuse (particularly performance-enhancing drugs) but it’s treated very effectively and works well in making Corvo more nuanced and tragic than in his video game persona. Still, if you’re not familiar with the game that sprung the series, you’ll be left scratching your head at the story as if you’ve just walked into the middle of a movie.
The comic is a love letter to fans of the game, with plenty of action scenes and more than just a subtle hint of violence. Interestingly, rather than go for realistic visuals, the artists have opted for a more stylish presentation of Dunwall. It’s more of a classic comic book feel, with black shading, exaggerated poses and many, many shots of mid-air action. At parts, the colors and shapes become somewhat more surreal, hinting that Corvo’s more arcane skills are tugging at the fabric of reality and we’re getting a glimpse into how the world appears to him. It’s very attractive eye candy and it would certainly catch someone’s attention through some casual flipping through its many action-orientated pages.
Dishonored #1 is an interesting attempt to flesh out the characters and setting of the iconic game series, but familiarity with the games is too much of an absolute necessity and it’s simply not as accessible to newcomers. It’s an extremely well-written story with great action sections and interesting character development, and those who played and loved the games will be keen on seeing where Corvo’s tale leads. However, for anyone else, it’s rather hard to get invested in the story. It’s a good read, but it comes recommended for strict Dishonored fans only.
Final verdict: 3.5/5
Publisher: TITAN Comics; Released: August 3rd, 2016
Full Disclosure: this review was based on a copy of the comic supplied to HeyPoorPlayer by TITAN Comics.