An Honorable Playthrough of Bethesda's Dishonored

Justin Calvert attempts a pacifistic, no-kill session of the new level being shown at QuakeCon.

After playing through a new demo level of Dishonored titled Lady Boyle's Last Party, I had an opportunity to interview Arkane Studios' Harvey Smith about the game. Amongst other things, he mentioned that--because the game affords players so much freedom--players are still able to surprise him with some of the ways that they approach situations. He also noted that watching other people play the game sometimes makes him question whether or not they're enjoying it, not because they have glum faces, but because for an observer the moment-to-moment gameplay is rarely as compelling as it is for the player. This definitely rang true for me because I can only imagine how dull I might've managed to make Dishonored look during my own playthrough of the new demo, even though I was having a great time with it.

Despite having access to all of the paranormal abilities that you have to choose between for protagonist Corvo, the only ones I actually used on this occasion were his short-range teleport and the "dark vision" that makes it possible to look through walls and see the vision cones of characters you might want to avoid. This wasn't a goal that I set for myself or anything like that, but after my first few attempts at the level failed miserably, I happened upon what must surely be the least spectator-friendly route through the level possible.

The first goal of the level was to infiltrate a masquerade ball. Early attempts saw me failing in just about every way imaginable. I was devoured by rats; gunned down by a patrolling tall boy; and even killed by a fish. I was trying to be far more creative with Corvo's impressive repertoire of abilities than I needed to be, as it turned out. When I eventually made it into the estate, I did so simply by sneaking past the patrolling tall boy and guards, and then teleporting up and over a gate at the entrance. (I found an even easier way in that I could've used later.) At this point I was convinced that the party attendees loitering outside or the guard at the door would raise the alarm, but since Corvo wears a mask at all times, this was perhaps the one place in the city where he could hide in plain sight. The guard asked for my ticket, I found a discarded one close by, and shortly thereafter I was mingling with my high society target and her guests--some of whom commented on my risque mask.

I don't plan to spoil this level for you by giving a blow-by-blow account of my entire playthrough, but aside from an optional side quest in which I won a pistol duel, I can honestly say that I never even thought about drawing my weapons. In fact, the closest I came to any sort of confrontation was when a guard cautioned me after I accidentally smashed a drinking glass. The rest of my time at the party was spent conversing with guests to get clues, fetching someone a drink, and--mostly just because I could--picking the pockets of guests like my life depended on it. Rather than assassinate my target I chose to deliver her, unconscious, to a guy who was very much in love with her and who promised she would never be seen again. I don't know that she felt the same way about him, and on reflection I can't help but wonder how we was planning to keep her out of sight for the rest of her life; this outcome was surely better for her than dying at my hands though. Right?

Playing Dishonored, I wasn't just walking around at a party; I was searching for clues. I was wondering how to circumvent the security system so that I could see what was upstairs and seeking out hidden items called bone charms that I could equip to augment certain abilities. The whole time I was keenly aware that any wrong move on my part could send the sword and gun-wielding guards into a frenzy. (Simply zooming in on a character and his bodyguards to see if I could overhear their conversation using the mask's audio capabilities was enough to start a firefight on one occasion.) In short, I was on edge the entire time and, as such, was enjoying every minute of it.

After playing through Lady Boyle's Last Party I'm even more excited for Dishonored than I was after E3. I'm also curious to see if and how the team at Arkane manages to keep the game from getting dull for those of us who are excited at the idea of completing the game without ever killing anyone.

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Discussion

100 comments
tgwolf
tgwolf

Ah, okay. So we're NOT going to get any good PC games this year. Okay, so are we EVER going to get any?

Tygravius
Tygravius

Hope this isn't like the Witcher2 were you get pretty badass then the game is over. Or better yet, be limited to only certain 'powers/perks' from the style you like to play. I've notice that all the video gameplays, the 'power wheel' is maxed out with everything (I know they're just showing off all the gadgets)

eseptim
eseptim

Wait, no 3rd person view???

eseptim
eseptim

Great! Another fantastic game!

pidow
pidow

The way the game is played in the videos, do not mean I will play it the same way.  I like finding things out for myself, exploying every possible way on completing a level and then I decide, not someones eles' way, my way.

FuriousHamst3r
FuriousHamst3r

Amazing! Can't wait for Dishonored and Hitman: Absolution.

xander01
xander01

I'm deliberately avoiding video footage of the game and just reading about it, I can't wait for this to come out.

Incubus420
Incubus420

Did anyone else find the comments about the fun factor a little odd?

ilantis
ilantis

Also if you don't wnt to kill anyone they should give you the power to possess a target and suicide. In the video I was hoping he would jump off the balcony...

ilantis
ilantis

What about ending the game and actually kill everyone ? Every npc, every guards and every fish ?I did so in my last playtrough of Fallout 3, I just tought the wasteland should have been less populated...

ZOD777
ZOD777

I just hope that the game doesn't punish one type of play style.  A game is not as open as it claims if there is really only one solution to an endeavor rather than a limitless approach.  I am a little worried that you almost have to go the stealth route in order to succeed on a regular basis, not because I don't like stealth, but because that limits the replay value and feeling of true choice.  Hopefully Dishonored will allow the player to achieve success no matter which style of play they prefer, because that is one of it's biggest selling points.  Perhaps Justin just wasn't comfortable enough with the controls to take the guards and enemies on directly.  I know games like this usually have a bit of a learning curve, so I am still keeping my hopes up.

nonfanboygamer1
nonfanboygamer1

Doesn't look very polished, but that's common for bethesda. It show's promise, could be good.

system3142
system3142

I'm glad we're taking this direction. Making a game for every specific class in the Elder Scrolls games and really just building the entire world around that class... and then in the end putting it all together to make another Skyrim... Forever.

CAMILOGOD
CAMILOGOD

good to see my comment was removed......................

Seifer24
Seifer24

If it's like fail rage ill pass.

 

Grovilis
Grovilis

Oh nice. I wasn't aware that there are areas where you can stand in plain sight Hitman style.

Steel_Rain777
Steel_Rain777

The more I see and hear about this game, the more I want it. I love that it gives the choice of being completely pacifist. Hopefully this will bring back the stealth genre(I'm looking at you Splinter Cell)

TheEveryMan
TheEveryMan

An even more dishonourable action of calling it Bethesda's video game. Credit should be given where it is due.

8Dark8Wolf8
8Dark8Wolf8

Nice Review,   gave me flashbacks of Thief 2 bowl party mission, when drunk guests think U look funny >=P   its good we finally get something back in the same genre, I remember finishing Thief 1 and 2 without killing any human (spawns from the other world and spiders are OK) and just spending hours making perfect stealth missions.

 

I HOOOOOPE we get quick save in PC,     checkpoints for this type of games get frustrating sometimes.

aniforprez
aniforprez

though i would have liked a video, the game seems to be going along well. this article describes an amazing example of hiding in plain sight. a mechanic used to little effect in assassins creed but sounds to have been amazingly well done in this article. i'm really looking forward to this game

Brakkyn
Brakkyn

I thought this would be a video of his playthrough.  Bleh.

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

This, Bioshock infinity restores my faith in FPS.

jamesbigmac
jamesbigmac

I've always wanted a game where you at least have the choice to go through it without killing a single person. Now that Dishonored is going to do that, I cannot pass up this game.

hella_epic
hella_epic

so it's a stealth game which is also a first person action game with 2 types of ways to play it and almost 8-9 ways to go about each level? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

dapperbandit
dapperbandit

That non-lethal solution for neutralising Lady Boyle sounds nuts.

 

Joseph Fritzl would be proud.  

adam1808
adam1808

Also: Justin as a upstanding British gentleman where oh where is the U in your title? Have you crossed over to the dark side where z's are overused and they "fill out" forms?

adam1808
adam1808

I'll do no-killing runs of a game if I think it's part of the character and the tone. Yes they gave me the option to play the pacifist in MGS4 but Snake was a soldier and thus totally okay with shooting dudes. Since the tagline is "revenge solves everything" I'll take it as read that our player character is of a murderous persuasion and the narrative consistency won't tie itself in a knot if I bump off a few too many baddies.

Grovilis
Grovilis

 @ZOD777 Did you watch the video above? The dev states that there aren't any specific kind of routes that require specific styles of gameplay. It's more like Fallout 3 and the first Deus Ex where if you aren't keen to doing the objective one way, there should be a good number of other ways to get the job done present at the time. Hopefully what he says follows through to the game.

MuddVader
MuddVader

 @Seifer24 Seems you haven't really even read about the game or seen gameplay.

miser_cz
miser_cz

 @8Dark8Wolf8 I hope not, quicksave ruins stealth games. Hitman was brilliant without it.

Brokazaki
Brokazaki

 @jamesbigmac Deus Ex Human Revolution is a great game in which you can do a pacifist run

MXVIII
MXVIII

 @adam1808 Theres different kinds of revenge though. Theres Brutal God of War revenge, and then theres the more passive, make their whole world fall apart around them, and then laugh in their faces revenge. MGS4 could go in either direction. 

ZOD777
ZOD777

 @Grovilis I know what they are saying about the game, my point is that sometimes a certain playstyle is much harder in these types of games to the point of frustration which forces your hand to a different type of playthrough than intended.  I am well aware of the choices you are allowed to make, I am just not as sure of the execution of the available choices since Justin had a hard time with other types of play, leading him to alter his playstyle.  That is all I am getting at.

8Dark8Wolf8
8Dark8Wolf8

 @miser_cz Difference of opinion? I dig that! =)

 

                                        <Respect Hi5>

FuriousHamst3r
FuriousHamst3r

 @miser_cz Yeah but in Hitman you could have saves made by the player depending of the difficulty at witch you were playing, like 3 saves max on hard difficulty I believe. Once those were gone you were pretty much left with finishing the level without any saves.

AtomicBaconBits
AtomicBaconBits

 @miser_cz No, it's the other way around. Stealth can boil down to trial and error, and it's not fun to have to go back 20 minutes if  you accidentally mess up, or some inhuman guard magically sees you. Plus you can't just mess around and try different things.

Sam_Redfield
Sam_Redfield

 @miser_cz I actually agree with him, free saves is best for stealth, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory was amazing with free save.

TheEveryMan
TheEveryMan

 @Brokazaki 

 

Not entirely, the game sometimes forces you into a position you don't desire. Annoying at times.

slayerSS-3
slayerSS-3

 @Brokazaki  but not always for example you have to kill the bosses want it or not :(

adam1808
adam1808

 @sethbouldin I don't care dammit. I was holding out for a "Dishonoured" release for Europe.

MuddVader
MuddVader

 @Brokazaki Never played 4, but MGS3. You even get special camos if you take them out with tranqs. Plus the stealth device if you beat the game without alerting.

Brokazaki
Brokazaki

 @slayerSS-3 Hmm yeah :/ though metal gear solid 4 is another one of them, and you don't have to kill bosses

adam1808
adam1808

 @ostehapz English major. I have plenty of stuff to do and it bleeds into vidgygames. I like my news and features in Queen's english.

ostehapz
ostehapz

 @adam1808 If a "u" in a tittle means that much for you, you'd better get some more stuff to do... ;)