Dishonored is an exciting new title from Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks set to be released on October 9th. It is a first person stealth action adventure game and not to put any undue pressure on Dishonored but it could quite possibly be one of the best new titles of 2012. Much like the Assasins Creed franchise the game is set in many mission based self-contained sandbox environments that allow you to tackle each mission in your own way which will ultimately affect the outcome of the entire game and lead you to one of its many different endings. Missions can be completed by using stealth, combat or a combination of them both which creates a diverse and creative environment to play in that hasn’t been seen in new action adventure games in quite a long time. The game is designed in such a way that it can actually be completed without ever having to kill an NPC, should one want to play a game based entirely on stealth and cunning, which is a rare avenue for any game developers to go down with so many games being based solely on blood and gore. The games creative directors are Harvey Smith, who was involved in the Deus Ex franchise, and Raphael Colantanio, the founder of Arkane Studios, with Deus Ex designer Ricardo Bare as lead designer for the game. Harvey Smith describes Dishonored’s aesthetic as “retro-future-industrial”, an aesthetic that combines influences from 18th-century England; modern, Orwellian dystopia; and anachronistic technology, such as spindled armatures, walls of light, and buggy-like vehicles.
The story takes place in a hostile world that spans across the Isles from the steam-punk style industrial city of Dunwall, Capitol of Gristol, to the untamed wilds of the Pandyssian Continent. While the Isles are the heart of civilization they are also ruled by the iron fist of the Imperial government which has its own monarch and economy on each of the Islands and its own diplomatic and trade relations. The world has been very cleverly designed to be based on the era of late 1800’s to early 1900’s London and Edinburgh with a high tech futuristic twist. Dunwall is a fishing and whaling city that was cast into a new industrial age by the discovery by Esmond Roseburrow of using the discarded whale oil for fuel which provides,in current times, not only power to run the city but to create new weapons and technology. This powerful weaponry has also lead to the corruption of power in the Government leads to the the city falling into chaos and disorder. Dunwall is also ravaged by an unknown plague that is spread by rats and dogs and is bringing the poor to their knees while the rich are isolated and protected. The Lord Regent is determined to contain the plague by any means necessary, patrolling the streets with armed, mechanized sentries called Tallboys and enforcing quarantines and strict curfews as well as erecting Walls Of Light which disintegrate anyone who passes through them unauthorized.
You play as Corvo Attano, the legendary bodygaurd to the Empress, Jessamin Caldwin, who is murdered and who’s death and the kidnapping of her daughter and only living heir is placed on his head by the Lord Regent who plans to usurp the Empress. In order to avenge her death and seek revenge against the people who conspired to frame him, he has to become the ultimate assassin and with the help of a mythical being known only as The Outsider players learn how to combine stealth, combat and magical abilities bestowed upon him by The Outsider to fight his enemies and get to the heart of the conspiracy.
Dishonored is a game that is all about affecting the world around you. Times have become so bad in Dunwall that the citizens no longer care about wrong or right and are only concerned with stability and holding onto what little peace they can keep in their world. Thusly the game unlike many RPG type games measures the players effects on the world in stability and not morality. The developers describe it as a Chaos meter. The more chaotic your actions the more things spiral out of control until guards are attacking people, rats are swarming everywhere and people are attacking each other and Corvo. The opposite is true where your actions can make things less chaotic by handling certain situations with more stealth or diplomacy. It is a game about causality not morality and the AI directly responds to the players actions from slight changes in the demeanor of people you interact with, depending on how they view your actions, to subtle dialogue changes, more guards patrolling an area or the amounts of rats one sees. The point is to not punish the player for making certain decisions or make them choose one side or the other, the game allows you to play as you want to play and change your mind whenever you want to. The developers expect most people to play down the middle tending to only resort to combat when stealth fails. Also unlike many RPG style games the dialogue choices you make only affect a small amount of changes whereas the main changes come about because of your actions.
Each of the mission areas were created for a fully immersive experience which will allow the player to experience everything from the sewers to the roofs of every area allowing them to explore every inch of each sandbox and unlock previously locked spaces as well as find special rewards and items. The base of operations when you are not on missions is a pub known as the Hound Pits. This is where Corvo will plan his missions, meet up with informants and trade items for gold and weapons as well as upgrading his supernatural abilities.
Stealth will be based on hiding out of sight of guards or targets to follow them or eavesdrop on conversation and lighting will come into play in those instances. Guards will have levels of alertness depending on how well you use your stealth abilities and what kinds of guards they are for example if they are on patrol or just standing guard. As far as supernatural powers go the ones that have been announced are “Dark Vision” which allows the player to see enemies through walls, their field of view and an abstract representation of sound made by the player; “Blink” a short-distance teleportation ability; “Possession” that allows the player to inhabit and possess other characters from rats and fish to humans temporarily; “Devouring Swarm” which summons a swarm of deadly rats; “Time Bend”, that freezes time; “Wind Blast” a gust of wind and “Shadow Kill” that turns dead enemies to ash preventing their discovery. These can be upgraded with Runes and Bone Charms. There will also be a vast array of weapons from knives to guns to purchase and find during missions or at the Hound Pits.
Don’t let a release date stop you from becoming an ultimate assassin. The developers have created some fun mini games to prepare you for all the awesomeness that lies ahead. There are three titles, Dishonored: Rat Assassin, Dishonored: Revenge Solves Everything & Dishonored: Weapons Of Revenge so go download these pre-release tastes of the hours of stealth action gaming you have ahead of you this month.
Below also follow the preludes to the Dishonored game The Tales From Dunwall which offer a quick and insightful history of the times that lead up to the start of the game. I suggest that they are watched in order and then finally the Debut Trailer for the story to have the most impact