Dishonored: What Next From the Publishers of Skyrim?

Man-eating rats, prostitutes, and death by steaming. If only all stealth-action games were as exciting as Dishonored.

by

'

There's often a correlation between the amount of fun you have in a game and the utter ridiculousness of its weapons. Saints Row: The Third has its dildo bat, BioShock has its swarm of bees, and Dishonored…well, Dishonored has rats. Lots and lots of terrifying, swarming, man-eating rats. There's really no greater way to vanquish your enemies than to have them devoured alive by 50 rats like they're giant, walking pieces of cheese. But maybe you don't think so. Maybe you'd rather see your foes steamed, frozen, or skewered with a crossbow bolt. Maybe you'd rather not kill anyone at all.

Therein lies the beauty of Dishonored: the freedom to play as you see fit. Sure, you play as an all-powerful, supernatural assassin, but that doesn't mean you have to be a mass murderer. How you take out each of your targets is entirely up to you. If you want to be merciful, knock someone out. If you want to be mean, throw someone off of a six-story building. If you want to be a sadistic bastard, shoot someone in the face at point-blank range with a crossbow. It's your call.

There's no in-your-face moral system to tell you whether your actions are good or evil. Instead, you're left to your own devices and gently guided by the narrative. Your character is Corvo, an assassin tasked with protecting the empress of a stylized steampunk city known as Dunwall. Unfortunately for Corvo, he's falsely accused of the empress's murder and must clear his name by disposing of a number of targets throughout the city.

Between each mission, you're dropped into a hub world where you can upgrade your equipment and powers. And boy, you can choose from a lot of powers. You can summon a plague of rats, teleport over short distances instantly, possess people and animals, slow down time Max Payne-style, and see through walls. You can also master a range of weapons, including a crossbow--complete with flaming fire arrows--a pistol, and the deliciously gory spring razor. This range of powers is combined with a level design that does its best not to restrict you in any way; if you see a great sniping spot on top of a roof or a distant vent that would simply be part of the scenery in a lesser game, chances are you can get there and use it.

This opens up a huge range of possibilities for a completing an objective. Your journey through the narrative might be mission based, but the missions themselves are their own individual sandboxes. One such mission takes place in the Golden Cat Ballroom: a burlesque house for the rich and powerful inhabitants of Dunwall. Corvo is tasked with taking out two brothers inside the ballroom, which is heavily guarded and full of potentially alarm-raising prostitutes.

You can enter by the front door, but that would be too obvious. Instead, how about possessing a nearby rat and using its smaller frame to sneak in through a nearby vent, past the armed guards at the entrance? Or you can use Corvo's teleporting power, blink, to teleport up to the roof of the building, which gives you a great vantage point for silent sniping with the crossbow. The difficulty then is getting down again without fatally injuring yourself. But with an inventive use of Corvo's talent for possession, it's entirely possible. You can leap off the roof and possess a bystander at the bottom on the way down, letting you walk away unscathed and unnoticed.

Inside the building, nearby characters speak of one of the brothers enjoying a steam bath, while the other is enjoying a "private" visit from a female employee. This is a hint that it's often wise to let enemies live, just so you can eavesdrop on their conversations and pick up clues. Once they've outlived their usefulness, though, you can use blink to quickly teleport behind them and deal a sharp blow to their heads, knocking them out silently and letting you drag their unconscious bodies to nearby rooms to avoid alerting passing guards.

Corvo's dark vision proves useful for further stealth, letting you see through walls to discover nearby enemies and your targets. Indeed, you find one of the brothers lurking in a steam room by seeing through the wall. But a locked door prevents you from entering directly, at least without finding the key located in another room. A nearby fishpond holds a cleverer solution. By possessing the fish and swimming up through a set of pipes, you emerge in the steam control room, where--you guessed it--you can crank up the steam and boil your target alive.

There are multiple ways of taking out the other brother, too. When you find his room, you can possess his female companion, using her to distract him before you emerge to swiftly knife the target. Then again, you could possess the target himself, leading him outside to a quiet spot before finishing him off with a few shots of your pistol. Either way, your target is dead, and you haven't raised the alarm. If nearby guards do happen to hear a noise or catch sight of you, then you have to go for the brute-force approach to escape the building.

Fortunately, this looks to be as much fun as the sneaking, thanks to a whole bunch of offensive powers. If you're overwhelmed by attackers, you can freeze time, stopping them in their tracks and making them rather susceptible to being shattered with Corvo's Shockwave power. Or you can set them all on fire. Or you can slow down time, dodge their bullets, and plant a bunch of spring razors in their path. Then, when time resumes at normal speed, they run straight into your traps and are turned into a neatly sliced pile of meat. Or, most sadistic of all, you can summon a swarm of rats to devour them alive. Even better, you can possess one of the rats afterward and use it to sneak out of the building unnoticed.

While there's no overarching moral system in Dishonored, there is the chaos system, which works much like a behind-the-scenes AI director. Actions you take earlier in the game may have an impact later on, with different characters and enemies appearing or disappearing. It's a neat touch that ensures there's variation to each player's experience without beating you around the head with supposed moral choices at every turn.

So that's man-eating rats, prostitutes, and death by steaming. Not bad for a game that's as much about stealth as it is about combat. And we haven't mentioned the hugely stylistic art style, based on 1600s London. That city has been transformed into a warped, steampunk version of itself, thanks to the efforts of former Half-Life 2 artist Viktor Antonov, and it looks fantastic, even at the game's early stage in development.

Dishonored is due for release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC later this year. Keep reading GameSpot for more soon.

'

Discussion

186 comments
marty2004
marty2004

I think it's going to be a GOTY for me. lets hope so.

MuffintopX
MuffintopX

Now this looks sweet, but when are developers going to realize that Nobody Wants a non-violent option? Seriously, who wants to play through an entire assassin game and not kill? Name one person you know who did a non-violent playthrough because they wanted to, and not for some trophy.

louievelez
louievelez

Ideally, this sounds like a great game for someone like myself. I also agree with @zzanzabar about recent games, dlc, etc. I noticed plenty of others games in this one (Assassins Creed, Rage, Blink, Darkness 2, etc.), but I like the fact that you are not restricted by your early choices on future gameplay (i.e., good, bad). Unless a game is so obviously horrific, I tend to buy it (them) and play thru til the end.

foojam
foojam

Play Arx Fatalis guys, it's worth your time and money. Arkane can deliver again.

shaktiIIIgta
shaktiIIIgta

@zzanzabar yeah, I remember those good old days too...

zzanzabar
zzanzabar

Its funny but I am more concerned about the POST production of this game than the actual game itself. Remember when, to buy a game, all you had to worry about was whether it was: 1) good as advertised, and 2) whether or not there would be a copy waiting for you when you went to buy it? Now there are so many post production problems that you have to make critical decisions based on what problems the game will present AFTER it is finished: 1) day one DLC, or ON disc DLC (a misnomer if ever there was one) such as Teken and ME3 2) system incompatibility issues (Skyrim PS3), 3) different pre-order content based on WHERE you pre-ordered the game. 4) Horrific glitches that have to be patched for MONTHS after release. Collector additions that promise great unique artwork that turns out to be the size of a postcard. By the time you sift through the sloppy delivery, attempts at greed, and just plain false advertising the actually game play gets lost under a pile of crap.

GhoX
GhoX

I liked Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, even though that game was rather linear. This game seems to possess similarly interesting combat, but a lot of freedom in terms of the environment and story progression.

joe_chebs
joe_chebs

Hmm, this one seems to be keeping a low profile but never the less, it's looks like it could shape to be a great title! something along the Theme of Thief and Deus Ex would be fantastic, fingers crossed this one will be a good one!

Cryptic_Shadow
Cryptic_Shadow

Damn, this game looks amazing. Viktor Antonov and Bethesda Softworks = winning. I would buy it today if it was out.

spacecool
spacecool

Reminds me of The Anubis Gates, which would make a hell of a game.

JamesX007
JamesX007

Wonder how it will compare to the new Hitman game.

NoirBadguy
NoirBadguy

Blink - short range teleport, where have I seen that...

The_New_Blueguy
The_New_Blueguy

I really don't see why people are comparing this game to everything else. It seems quite original, at least to me, and let's be honest, as long as games are fun does it really matter?

Void_Kross
Void_Kross

@cipo89 Exactly. Fallout 3 was a very good game, even though it's history according to the series past is not correct. It was made to bring Fallout back to life, which it did.

NightmareTm
NightmareTm

bethesda should make more rpg games than actions

02050muh
02050muh

whew~ bethesda is just the publisher...hope this game doesn't have serious bugs that plague almost all bethesda's games before

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

Hmm, have to keep an eye on it. Its Bethesda after all, and I can wait for the next Fallout if I really have to. ~grin~

cipo89
cipo89

@Void_Kross Same, I really felt that Bethesda did an excellent job with FO3, sure it may not have been historically correct with the Fallout Universe but it still was an amazing atmospheric game. I will most likely get a heart attack when/if they announce Fallout 4.

Void_Kross
Void_Kross

@cipo89 Yes, but my comment was just a "matter-of-fact" statement. Sure, Bethesda has only made Fallout 3, but Fallout New Vegas is by right under their belt as well. And yes, I know that isn't a lot of Fallout games. I'm still going to hope for a new Fallout eventually though, don't care when, just as long as they do it.

cipo89
cipo89

@Void_Kross I don't think you understood what ShadowOfKratos said, he said bethesda mad e too many fallouts already and they need a large break.

ChewieOnIce
ChewieOnIce

Nice Hadn't heard anything about this until now but this preivew makes it seem very interesting. And hey, summoning rat armies is never a bad thing.....

graphidz
graphidz

since corvo is so powerful,might as well control everyone in the game and make them kill themselves or the targets while corvo sits at a table and drinking coffee,like a bawse

flesh19no
flesh19no

Didn't get too much Steam Punk feeling of it. The city looked more like something from Half-Life 2

Sayed101
Sayed101

the game gives off a Bioshock and Hal-life 2 vibe.

hnt354
hnt354

This game is very pretty! Seems like a mix of Deus Ex in a kind of Bioshock setting. Going to keep an eye on it!

tizmond
tizmond

If they can pull off everything they say, then this will be brilliant. Looks a bit like a cross between Thief & Deus Ex. Interesting.

DbzJohno
DbzJohno

I'm going to keep an eye on this title. This might be a game I'll buy. Looks very interesting:)

Void_Kross
Void_Kross

@cipo89 Yes, New Vegas was made by obsidian, but Bethesda still holds all the rights to Fallout. Not talking bad about Bethesda, Obsidian, or any of the Fallout games, but I'm only hoping that Bethesda makes Fallout 4, and somewhere near California so I can see what Arroyo looks like after they used the G.E.C.K. That, or more south of that to see the awesome Brotherhood of Steel base.

esba160
esba160

has the feel of half lfe..

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

cipo89
cipo89

@ShadowOfKratos They've given us 1 Fallout, Fallout New Vegas was made by obsidian

botsio
botsio

i'm keenly following this game.it has something unique and unheard of in gaming history.will be fun as hell!i'm loving it.yet to watch the trailer.

shanethewolf
shanethewolf

This looks and sounds amazing, although the "powers" really seem unnecessary and a bit silly. I must prefer games like this to remain somewhat grounded.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

Looks like a very interesting mix. Steampunk plus zombie elements, plus supernatural sci-fi horror elements with Max Payne music. Like what you get if you cross Half-Life 2 with The Darkness with Deus Ex with Bioshock Infinite. The one piece of advice I'd offer, which I would offer to all games makers is this: Don't. Make. It. Easy.

Aeondeity
Aeondeity

Well, those two don't seem to get along. Lets hope that the game itself is more efficient than their social skills.

twistyanddark
twistyanddark

Mission to mission with sandboxing approaches. Nice. The last two games that managed to have this gameplay was Thief: The Dark Project and original Assassin's Creed. Then impatient angry kiddos took over the industry.

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

I've been looking forward to this game since the first tidbit of information and I'm glad to hear it's going strong. :) I just hope it doesn't get simplified in an attempt to appeal to a greater audience!

Elann2008
Elann2008

Ambitious. I haven't felt refreshed about a game since BioShock.

maderrin
maderrin

Finally some more info, I've been waiting for this. One of my top anticipated games of 2012.

keyb0red
keyb0red

Any game that has Man-eating rats, prostitutes, and death in the same sentence gets my money.

SubHumanTorch
SubHumanTorch

I tried to do it with the original deus ex and Metal Gear Solid 2 long before any kind of trophy/achievment system existed. I like the extra challenge. @MuffintopX

Ablaoublas2
Ablaoublas2

 @MuffintopX

 Well..i name myself actually.And i would dare say most diehard fans of the Thief series as well.Played all of those games without killing anyone because i LIKE playng that way(outwitting my enemy through stealth).Not everyone likes playng the same way man.If i want to kill there are PLENTY of other choices around me.But a good stealth game?Thats a rare gem in this blood ridden gaming era we live in.