By Steve Wright
GAME NAME: Dishonored
DEVELOPER(S): Arkane Studios
PLATFORM(S): PC, Xbox 360, PS3
GENRE(S): Stealth, action
RELEASE DATE(S): 11 October 2012
I felt a bit out of place at the Royal Automobile Club of Australia last week in Sydney. I mean, I don’t think they usually cater to the Batman t-shirt-wearing crowd, but there I was… complete with a face that still had traces of camouflage paint that just wouldn't come off (more on that another time). Nevertheless, I was allowed to enter and have another crack at Bethesda’s upcoming Dishonored.
In a sequence that takes place after the experience I went hands-on with at E3, I played as Corvo as he was about to infiltrate a masquerade ball. His target? One of the three sisters Boyle, each of whom was decked out in full costume for the event. Not only did I need to kill the right sister, but I needed to ascertain the correct target first by investigating what each planned to wear. It wasn't a small feat.
Starting off from a river, I needed to get up onto the street and past a couple of guards... and a menacing Tall Boy to boot. For the first twenty minutes, I was determined to do so with force.
It didn’t go well.
I gave up eventually and relied upon my special talents – I teleported from one side of the road to the other to evade the goons, and then stopped time to slip around the Tall Boy. Just like that, it took me half a minute using stealth to do something I couldn’t at all with brawn.
Executive Producer Julien Roby was quite patient with me as I tried my direct approach, and demonstrated how I could have succeeded using physicality with powerful attacks in Corvo's arsenal. To the game's credit, I was quite versed with Corvo's stealth-based powers, but forgot about things like the whirlwinds he can generate to devastate enemies (and that damn Tall Boy too).
Now realising the potential I had at my fingertips, I played around with different techniques inside the mansion housing the masquerade ball. I snuck around, possessing rats to effortlessly sneak my way upstairs. There, in the "no-entry to guests" portion of the house, I went crazy and performed far more assassinations than attempts at investigating who my real prey was to be. It was exhilarating to be able to take out so many guards without being noticed – I felt part Ezio Auditore, and part Batman.
Eventually, I decided to abandon that course of action, and ran around as a pacifist with full stealth. It was just as fun... and right there lies the true beauty of Dishonored.
Lately, in games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I feel as if the “stealth or force” option really means that you’re required to adapt to the situation and use either stealth or force; in those scenarios, it's like only one choice or the other will actually work. While I'm sure it won't 100% the case in Dishonored (I’m looking at you, river sequence!), I do feel that the two main quest areas that I’ve seen of the game really do allow you to choose one option or the other, rather than figuring out which has to be used for that particular sequence. It seems to me that there has been quite a lot of effort put in to balancing each scenario so that either path will be as effective as the other.
Time will tell if this holds true in the final product, but let me tell you – I'm extremely excited for Dishonored's release on 11 October.