Every now and then, there’s a game coming out that’s receiving considerable hype, yet you’re unsure about it. Then you play it and realize for yourself that the hype is well deserved. Dishonored is that game.
From Arkane Studios, the team that aided 2K Marin with BioShock 2 development, as well as Harvey Smith, designer of Deux Ex and Deus Ex Invisible War comes Dishonored, a first person action stealth game taking place in a ‘Steampunk’ type universe. We were given a hands off demonstration behind closed doors in Bethesda‘s booth before getting our hands on a separate demo and we’re back to tell the tale.
While the game is linear in nature, one of the features touted is the ability to play each level as you’d like. For example, the demonstration was played throw the same level twice: one completely stealth based and the other where our hero killed everything in sight. Speaking of our hero, we’re playing an assassin named Corvo Atano, who in addition to being quite skilled with a sword, has an array of super powers at his disposal. Using a combination of said powers, sword play, and tactics will determine your success for each mission.
Okay, enough background, let’s discuss the gameplay. You may recall how BioShock was touted as an experience where no play through would be similar. While it was true, to an extent, the overall experience was quite similar. This isn’t the case with Dishonored; they really do mean every experience will be different and weren’t afraid to back it up.
As mentioned, our first demo was stealth based, with our hero blinking across the screen, possessing various characters, and silently knocking them unconscious to remain undetected. There was careful planning, strategic tactics, and precise movements used constantly to ensure no one knew there was trouble lurking abound as you attempted to assassinate not one, but two targets.
The real kicker of the first play through? They were eliminated without ever having a finger laid on them. The first was in a steam room, so the developer overloaded the steam system. The second? He possessed the target and then pushed him off a ledge towards his watery grave. He then vanished without a trace.
That led us into the action play through, one that’s more satisfying to play, yet far more challenging. We traded in the blinking through shadows to getting up close and personal with our enemies, blowing their faces off with a pistol, decapitating them with our sword, or simply summoning a swarm of rats to surround them. But, as mentioned, this is a more challenging way to play, something that became obvious when we tried it out for ourselves.
We were given a separate level to try out: our goal was to subdue our target and bring him back to the extraction point. Going back to the point about how no play through is ever the same, I tried out different methods to enter my target’s building. While I swam and rode up a water mill, I saw other people taking a more direct approach to the situation. My stealth tactics did pay off, however, as I went unnoticed for the most part, but when I was discovered, things went south rather quickly. I wasn’t slicing up my enemies like the developer; I was instead struggling for my life, quickly using potions and trying to run to cover safely.
Yet, despite the chaos that would ensue during combat at times, I never felt out of place and blaming the game for dying. Dishonored handles quite well, whether I’m sneaking up a corridor to eliminate a target, or trying to carry someone to an extraction point while dodging oncoming guards. Dropping said body, wielding a pistol, and eliminating all threats was quite a seamless process, one that has me itching for more.
Thankfully, the wait for Dishonored isn’t that long, as the game ships October 9th for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. For a game I was unsure about, I was quite pleased to come away impressed.