Wrapping your brain around a new Halo or Mass Effect is easy enough. Understanding a new franchise like Dishonored is a little harder, and our cryptic cover probably didn’t help much. Read on to get a sense of what this stealth/action adventure from Arkane and Bethesda is about – and to see the first screenshot of the game.
Who are you?
Players take on the role of Corvo, the Empress’ legendary bodyguard. As the game starts, Corvo is falsely imprisoned for her murder. What the corrupt Lord Regent behind the coup didn’t realize is that Corvo is legendary for a reason. He’s not only a skilled combatant accomplished in the art of not being seen, but Corvo has a suite of supernatural powers that combine with his natural talents and unusual gadgets to make him one of the most lethal men in the known world.
Why should you care?
Even if you haven’t played them, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Thief and Deus Ex. One of the main minds behind those two games, Harvey Smith, is the co-creative director of Dishonored along with Raf Colantonio, the founder of developer Arkane Studios. The two share a vision of a game that gives players the power to be creative with their skills and tactics, and invites them to come up with interesting solutions to the obstacles in front of them. Arkane is known for its immersive first-person gaming (Arx Fatalis, Dark Messiah of Might & Magic), and the power of a talent-driven publisher in Bethesda (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3) behind the team is promising.
How are they going to do that?
Dishonored has several major elements that combine to create its unique gameplay: mobility, powers & gadgets, environment, and AI. The trick is that a single power doesn’t just do damage or heal you. You can combine them organically to create interesting effects. Stop time and knock a bunch of stuff off a table in one direction then book it in another, so the guards search for you in the wrong place. Summon a swarm of rats to attack one guard, but possess one of the rats and escape in the chaos. Every problem has as many solutions as you want it to.
What’s the catch?
It’s an assassination game that reacts to how violent you are. An unusual “chaos” system tracks how much collateral damage you cause, and the game world changes as a result of your actions. Unlike a light/dark side meter, though, it’s a behind-the-scenes element that affects story decisions without punishing the player or pushing them to play one way or another.
When can I learn more?
Soon! You can get ten pages worth of details in the print magazine, and we’ll be dropping new online content, from video interviews to an interactive map of Dishonored’s world, throughout the month. We asked a lot of questions, and Smith and Colantonio had a lot to say. For starters, on Wednesday we’ll share a video that breaks down why you should be interested in the team at Arkane even if you haven’t played any of their previous games.