Inside Pulse 12

Book Review: Dishonored Strategy Guide (BradyGames)

A game like Dishonored is full of secrets, hidden areas, and things to discover. Only the most diligent and careful players are likely to find them all. Even then, it will still take more than one playthrough thanks so some areas being locked off depending on the path you take. As such, a strategy guide doesn’t sound like a bad idea. There are some who might consider using one a cheat. I see it as a collection of hints and tips, as well as a catalog of the game’s collectibles. So, I was more than willing to review this strategy guide when it came in.

First off, the book is full color, 253 pages long, and paperback. Like most BradyGames guides, the book is sturdy and able to stand the test of time. I have several that I’ve purchased over the years, and I’ve had no problems with the condition. The paper is thick and heavy. It’s not likely to rip.

The first section of the book focuses on introducing the player to the key players in Dishonored. These intros avoid spoilers for the most part, unless you count introducing the character prior to you meeting him/her in the game as a spoiler. It won’t tell you which characters are targets and which ones are friends, though you may be able to gleam this information anyway. Large portraits accompany each description, allowing you to notice any character on the spot.

The next section covers gameplay. It keeps things brief, as it assumes the game’s manual and tutorials will do more for you than reading about them here. Also included is a full list of Corvo’s powers, gadgets, and weapons. This includes the number of runes needed for a power, the price of an upgrade, and the location of any blueprint needed to obtain an upgrade. It also includes descriptions that can help you figure out what powers/upgrade you’re going to want for your style of gameplay.

Of course, the meat of the book is the walkthrough itself. Each of the eleven chapters starts off with a quick overview of the main objectives, optional tasks, number of collectibles, and other information useful to someone going in for the first time (or more). This is followed by a series of full color maps that layout the whole level and point out areas of interest.

The maps are easily the single most important aspect of this book. Players can always find basic information online via message boards, but maps are much harder to come by. While these maps don’t show enemy locations, they do give an over the top view of the whole area. It is easy to figure out where key items are and whether you’ll be in tight corridors or open areas. A legend is included at the beginning of each chapter, so you won’t have to go back to the beginning of the book if you don’t recognize a symbol. I did notice the maps were missing some information. For example, you can get into Sokolov’s house in mission six via a water turbine. This was not mentioned on the map. I actually couldn’t find it in the book at all, which is a shame. The maps are still useful overall, and much better than simply reading a description.

Dishonored is a game where you can play either stealthily or murderously. The actions you can take vary greatly depending on the choices you make. As such, the book contains two separate walkthroughs for both killers and sneaks. These are coined “the path of blood” and “the path of shadow”. Information that is vital to both paths is included in both write ups. This means a player can simply skip ahead to the section that pertains to how they’re playing the game.

Throughout the book, there are screenshots that show you what the written text is talking about. Of course, there were some instances where the screenshot was of little help. In one instance, the shot showed a door that you needed to go through for the shadow route. However, there are multiple doors in that area that look like that. The picture needed to be panned back in order to be useful. Also included are several pieces of art from the game that keep things looking good.

Call-out boxes pervade the book, like they do in most strategy guides. These helpful little boxes point out all sorts of things. They give hints as to what powers would be useful, they point out areas of the game where it is easier to earn certain achievements, and they give special attention to the various optional objectives throughout each mission. What they don’t do, sadly, is give detailed descriptions on how to get collectibles. You have to rely on word descriptions, as well as screens in the back of the book. If the description is vague, which they be at times, you’ll have to flip to the back in order to get a clearer idea of where to go.

After the walkthrough, the game has a list of enemies, collectibles, and achievements. The enemy bios are pretty useful and give you an idea of what each foe is capable of. The pictures of the collectibles can be helpful in some situations, but the brief blurbs underneath each pic is required to make sense of it. At least you’ll know what areas of each level to search. The list of achievement is really just a list. The hints on how to earn said achievements are scattered throughout the book. It’s a bit sloppy, but the book makes up for it by highlighting which achievements can be earned in what style of playthrough.

Finally, there’s a developer interview to end the book. It’s only a couple of pages long, but it was an interesting read nonetheless. I certainly like the idea and hope to see more of it in future guides.

Overall, the book is helpful, but far from perfect. The text can get vague, there are things missing from the maps, and some things are simply not in the best place. The maps are mostly useful though, as well as the comprehensive lists that can help you plan out your advancement. It’s also great to get idea of how to get to that last stubborn rune or bone charm in each level. If you’re looking for very specific help, this book isn’t the best option. If you want a handy collection of tips and hints paired with a number of screenshots/pieces of game art, you’ll find this book to be just what the doctor ordered.

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