Arkane Studios’ Dishonored was on show at Gamescom 2011. With its mixture of first-person shooter, stealth, supernatural powers and steam-punk universe it hopes to be a unique game and it certainly looks that way.
The most interesting part of Dishonored, at least in my eyes, is its setting and aesthetics. The aesthetics are almost cell-shaded but a version of it that is quite close reality. As for the actual setting the game is based in an industrial age, steampunk world which is unlike anything I have ever seen in another game. The city that the game takes place in is called Dunwall and is fully explorable through open world exploration. The developers are really pushing to make Dishonored a completely unique experience that no-one will get confused with any other game.
Of course the game isn’t all about it’s setting and graphics and the gameplay is just as unique as the setting. It blends together stealth, first-person shooting and an open world, which has been done in other games but not with the addition of supernatural powers. The supernatural powers aren’t completely over the top from what was shown in the demonstration, no levitating people or using telekinesis to pull people’s weapons from their hands. Basically nothing to devoid the purpose using stealth. The powers that were shown were teleporting, which was used to jump between rooftops, time-slowdown, which was used to dodge bullets, and possession. Possession was used to possess a rat and then get into a fortified compound through a tiny gap.
So what about the ‘normal’ stealth gameplay? Well that seems to be polished to perfection. Making a huge change to the way play out the stealth is the reputation system though, or the ‘chaos’ system as Arkane Studios’ have named it. If this system wasn’t in place the player would probably end up sneaking up behind every guard and killing him silently then moving onto the next. With the chaos system in place though you can’t do this. For every guard you kill your reputation rises and the guards may get more suspicious and may even start attacking civilians. So you are encouraged to sneak around with killing as little people as possible.
The mission we saw challenged the player to sneak past a lot of guards and checkpoints then gain access to a compound with your target inside. The first part of that, the sneaking part, was relatively straight forward. While working their way round the guards and Dunwall the player came across a lot energy gates. These killed anything living that went through the gate and were unauthorised. For one of them the player found it’s control panel and hacked it, a la Bioshock. This meant that you could use the gate and guards would die.
There were a few times that I was pulled out of the game-world though, for instance you can lean round corners to see what’s going on. It looks like you lean round so the whole of your body is showing and yet the guards right round said corner could not see you. This could easily be fixed though with a slight change to the leaning animation. When you reach your target the action part of the game kicks in. The player slows down time and takes out four people, including the target, and then needs to escape. The shooting and running looked smooth, fun to play and easy.
Smooth, fun to play and easy seems to fit perfectly when describing Dishonored. The game is set to launch mid-2012 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.