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Dishonored: First Looks

by Joost "Myrthos" Mans, 2011-08-29

Dishonored is a first person action game that has been worked on for some time already before they had a chance to show the alpha at Gamescom to a bunch of press guys and gals, of which I was one. In Dishonored, you play a supernatural assassin in a retro-future world where your missions take place in a crumbling city - and where the plague is just one of the ways you can die. A few of those ways to die were shown to us in the presentation.

In the mission they demonstrated, you are sent out to assassinate a corrupt lawyer who is being accused of misusing the plague that is terrorizing the city to seize people’s homes that have been fallen victim to the illness. That is worthy of nothing less than death, so onwards you go.

The demo showed one way of completing the mission but it became also clear that there are other ways as well. Dishonored can be approached as a combat game, a stealth game or a combination of both. You could hide behind an object and lean sideways to check if the guard is still there to notice he has his back turned towards you. You could sneak up on him, take out your knife, grab him from behind and drive your knife through the guard’s heart. If he hears you, however, he would turn around and you would have to shoot him or be very fast with your knife as shots can alert other guards. If you killed him the silent way, the dead body can be picked up and dropped somewhere else to hide him so other guards do not see him and will not be alarmed by his dead body.

You have different maneuver abilities and powers like sprinting, flying, peeking through keyholes, teleporting and a bunch more not shown to us. What also looked good was the ability to freeze time to make your moves and unfreeze it again. They also showed something that looked like a power to summon rats spawning from the ground to attack your opponents.

The developers have tried to give all the NPCs in the game - what they call - analogue intelligence. Rats, for example, will eat the bodies of those that have fallen victim to the plague and will run away when you approach them, unless they are in a large group. In that case they will turn on you and try to kill you.

The city also has walls of lights - electrical security devices. If somebody goes through them he or she will die, except for guards as it is safe for them. A rat would get killed as well so they don‘t go through them either. If, however, you are able to disable one of them, soon the rats will notice this and start going through the gate to investigate the other side.

Another example is that guards normally walk a predefined path, but will deviate from that path if its attention is drawn by something, like you making noise. The guard will be alerted and investigate the situation. When nothing is found he will continue his path again after some time.

One of the available powers is the ability to possess others. In the demo the possession of a rat was shown. Once possessed you look through the eyes of a rat and the game also gets the perspective from the rat's position. You are also seen by others as a rat and for most a dead rat is a good rat, so be careful. Even though it might be dangerous, it also offers benefits as it is easier to sneak and you can go through tiny holes. Possess a fish and you can swim across a river unseen; such a power opens a large array of possibilities for sneaking past your opponents.

Once you arrive at the house of the lawyer there is nothing holding you back from going through the front door and shooting and killing your way to the lawyer, but you might also consider there are less deadly ways to enter that building. Like from the sewers, from one of the other sides of the house - or the rooftop. Each entry point has its own advantages but might also have disadvantages. You can use your superjump or teleport powers to travel over the rooftops. Sneak around to avoid the guards and pickpocket one of them for the key to the lawyer’s room. Then, you could peek through the keyhole and quietly open the door, freeze time, sprint to the lawyer, unfreeze time, kill him and jump out of the window. Or you could just assassinate the guard, take the key, open the door and shoot, maim and kill everybody in the room. And for those with a more pacifist nature there is also the option not to kill him if that is more fitting to your style.

What I see as the strength of Dishonored is the large variety of game elements you can combine in any way you like. Some combinations will work for one situation but not for another. Some combinations will work for one player but not for the other. This potentially gives a large variety of different pathways through the game making it fun to play for different players and playing styles. This potential strength could, however, also become a weakness. The game might become a Jack of all Trades that can do everything, but doesn’t excel in many of these things. For now it is too soon to tell - the demo looked great and was convincing in every way. The impression I got from that alone is that Dishonored should be on your list of games to buy next year. That said, if you only play full RPGs, you'll need to look elsewhere as I doubt the level of RPG elements in this game will satisfy in their own right.

Box Art

Information about

Dishonored

Developer: Arkane Studios

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Technofantasy
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: Unknown
Voice-acting: Full

Regions & platforms
World
· Homepage
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2012-10-09
· Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

World
· Platform: PS3
· Released at 2012-10-09
· Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

World
· Platform: PS3
· Released at 2012-10-09
· Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

More information