One of the games I was personally excited to check out was Dishonored, a brand new IP that is currently under development at Arkane Studios.
In the game you’ll assume the first person role of Corvo Atano, a bodyguard who is seeking revenge against Lord Regent who framed him for the Assassination of the Empress he was sworn to protect.
Along with a slew of Victorian steam punk style weapons, Corvo also possesses great supernatural powers and gadgets... a crap load of them.
In our walkthrough of Dishonored, we were shown one level of the game played twice. One play through demonstrated an incredibly brilliant stealth run, and the other showed off brutal head on combat that was equally creative and diverse.
We were told the goal was to create a game that mixed first person action, deep interactive story and clever stealth. From what we’ve seen, this is definitely the case. Player creativity and choice, drive the pace of this game. The powers you choose and decisions you make all effect NPC actions, story elements and situations. Much like the Hitman franchise, there’s really no “wrong” way to do something. In fact, you can play the entire game without killing anyone. This includes your key targets. There is always an alternative resolution, with each choice affecting how your game plays out.
Now that we've been introduced to the overview of the game, it was time for our first mission, Kill the Pendleton Brothers.
We were first walked through a stealth approach to clearing this mission. In our demo, we were told that the character was highly overpowered in order to show off all the abilities. No time was wasted putting them to use.
Right off the bat, we were shown the cover and peek system used to scout your potential prey. After lunging out from behind a dumpster, the lone guard was shanked in the neck in a incredibly graphic “in your face” manner. It was pretty badass. But now what can we do with this cumbersome body? How about pick it up and teleport onto the roof. Sure why not!
Despite not being an open world game, and more of a level based linear format, you have a huge number of options for infiltration and exploration. You can go on the rooftops of buildings in the area, through doors, windows, the basement, or even a tiny six-inch wide gap in a sewer grate by possessing a fish.
That’s right, you can possess living things, including animals, so we possessed a fish and swam inside our targets building and reanimated ourselves. This was incredibly impressive to witness and immediately triggered giddy mummers of possibilities from the audience.
Once inside, the player used “Dark Vision” to peer through walls. Think of Batman’s detective mode, with the added benefit of seeing a NPC’s “vision cone” to help show where they’re looking, and the risks of being detected.
Sneaking past a number of guards and general castle dwellers, we made our way to a door and took advantage of the large old school keyhole for a peep inside. Once we looked inside there was a dialogue exchange happening between two NPC’s revealing where in the building our targets were. One was hanging out in the steam room in the basement, the other was in the castle master bedroom. This information was then updated on our maps and mission list. But then a bomb of excitement was dropped on us.
All of the NPC locations, including the main targets, are completely randomly generated on every play through. So you’ll need to spy and look for clues to reveal where they are if you’re trying to execute flawless stealth missions. This same mechanic also includes most of the spawn points for your own character when you replay levels. My mind was officially blown.
After the conversation dispersed we snuck into the room to acquire the basement key hanging from the belt of one of the NPC’s. With their back turned, we had the choice to, shank the living crap out of them, choke them out to render them unconscious (not fatal), or attempt to pick pocket them. Since we were doing a stealth run, we took the key and spared the old lady... this time.
Once in the basement we found one of the Pendleton brothers talking to a lady friend inside the steam room. Now, we could kick in the door and murder them both, but we instead were shown how environments come into play.
Sneaking our way into a room that had a glass window looking into the steam room, we picked up a large valve wheel, and popped it into the steam controls and gave it a spin. The room immediately filled with a deadly amount of steam pressure and boiled both of them alive. Onto the next brother!
After scaling the outer walls of the castle, we arrive at the window ledge of the master bedroom. Inside, the final Pendleton brother was talking to what appeared to be a hooker. Since our character was maxed out, we had the ability to possess people, including key targets.
After possessing our target we left the conversation, while the hooker was very confused asking if everything was okay. We just calmly walked outside and closed the patio door for a little alone time. After releasing our subject and appearing behind him, we equipped our “wind push” spell, and launched Mr. Pendleton from his patio. It was a thing of beauty. And thus concluded our stealth run.
So maybe stealth isn’t your style. Maybe you’d rather address your problems head on in a violent destructive kick the front door down kind of way. You can do that.
Spawning in a new location, this time on the roof, we jumped down behind two guards talking, and jammed our blade into the skull of one of them and shot the other in the face with a musket. I won’t spend as much time discussing this whole play through like I did with the stealth one because it’s pretty simple to explain.
Using melee blades, wind pushes, and extravagant weapons. Each guard and unfortunate NPC was stabbed, shanked, blasted, and gutted in highly graphic and dramatic manners. All of the hand-to-hand executions are very in your face, as you bring the victims tight into the camera as you plunge your blade into them. Their faces reflect this quite accurately.
The gadgets we were shown involved a wire bomb that latched onto someone and shredded them into pieces with constructing barbed wire blades. We also had access to bombs of sorts that turned enemies into bloody vapor clouds, as well as flaming bolts that ignited people and burned them to death.
While all of the traps were very cool on their own, they can also be combined with your incredible magic. At one point we summoned a swarm of magical rats to literally maul a man to death, peeling the skin from his bones as his friends looked on. They had guns and were kind of pissed off about this, so it was time for us to leave for cover, or get shot to death as we were flanked from three directions.
In most games, you would simply run to cover, but not in Dishonored. Walking is for chumps when you have magic! So with this in mind, we possessed one of the magical rats we summoned and fled to safety confusing the guards, to which we then picked off at our own pace before violently murdering the Pendleton brothers.
By the end of the demo, Dishonored went from my list of “that looks neat” to the podium of “I need this. Now!” Releasing in October, this is currently on my must watch list and I can’t wait to see more developments from this title.