By Steve Wright
I had the chance to get a little hands-on playtime with Arkane Studio's new title Dishonored at this year's E3. Arkane has previously assisted with Bioshock 2, and is now home to Deus Ex designer Harvey Smith. In order to describe Dishonored, start with those two titles, and throw in a lot of steampunk.
Dishonored is an action-adventure game with a ton of stealth thrown in for good measure. The game follows Corvo, a bodyguard in the city of Dunwall, as he stands accused of murdering the very Empress he was charged to protect. Gamers play as Corvo as he goes on a quest for vengeance.
Corvo has a ton of supernatural powers that he can use in said quest. My favourites were "Possession" (or animals, or later on, humans) and "Dark Vision" (so you can see through walls), though Corvo also can call upon "Rat Swarm" (pretty much as you'd expect), "Blink" (or, teleportation) and "Slow Time" (also, as you'd expect). Honestly, it was hard not to compare Corvo's powers to that of Bioshock and its plasmids.
As in Deus Ex, Corvo's powers and gadgets give him multiple ways to approach every mission; the choice is up to you. In a hands off demo, developers played through a level twice – an assassination challenge -- to illustrate that choice. In the first attempt, Corvo possessed a fish and entered the building through the drainage system. Next, he possessed the human target and brought him to Corvo, where he was then pushed off a balcony to his death. For the second go, Corvo just went run-and-gun to get the job done.
As they played, the developers said they wanted to make Dishonored look like a “moving painting”. From what I saw, they're definitely succeeding. Dishonored's use of colours and creative level design do just that.
In my hands-on, I was told to kidnap a doctor named Solokov. I tried the stealthy approach. A couple times. I failed. I gave up and then went guns-blazing. I failed as well. I didn't mind, either. The game looked gorgeous and was just fun to frolic through. I felt like I had freedom to try whatever I wanted, and I wasn't disappointed if that exercise in trial-and-error didn't work out like I'd hoped. It was a refreshing experience, and one that came out of left field for me.
I cannot wait to get my hands on Dishonored when it comes to PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on 11 October.