It’s an undoubted fact that, once again, the end of this year is jam-packed full to seam bursting precariousness of impending releases, and as per, glancing sideward in the vague direction of the Q4 release schedule is certain to cause a fatal mix of panic and excitement as you weigh up the pros and cons of eating in comparison to owning the industrial skip-full of gaming delights that await your consumption this ‘holiday season’. Eating’s not even that great. Honestly. But as we wade through the knee-high tides of sequels and prequels and five-quels, are there any new entries that are really worth our attention? Yes. Yes there are. One such game is Bethesda’s all new rafter-climbing, rat-possessing, mind-melding, cheeky sneaky steam punk first person shooter Dishonoured. Here’s why you need to start getting excited, right this moment.
Sneaky Sneaky, Catchy Ratty
Dishonoured is a game that centres on stealth mechanics, an evocative and deeply engaging narrative, choices and an art style that, for an instant, echo some of gaming’s greatest moments through the dimly lit corridors of your memory, before emerging as a something extravagant that truly stands out in its own right. A short period of time spent watching the pre-release gameplay videos and you’ll agree. Trust me.
More than the often speculated run-of-the-mill list of illustrious videogame features that are so frequently bandied around prior to a potential AAA hitting the shelves though, Dishonoured is boldly delving into ideals of a great gaming past and resurfacing clutching them in its hand. It’s on a mission. A mission to revive the creative, to bring back the intricacies of thought-provoking level design, to cast amoral methods of stage completion upon an unsuspecting modern player – but what does any of that really mean?
Dun Dun Wall
Dunwall is a sprawling, Victorian-esque city, littered with decrepitly inspiring architectural masterpieces and inhabited by a horde of stiff-upper-lipped lapdogs to the slip of a political sinkhole. From the swarm of rats that plague the peasant streets, to the slime of those that sit high in their castles desperately trying to wall themselves in with ignorance and greed, it’s the perfect setting for a foul adventure, and a reportedly deeply woven narrative that won’t let you out so easily.
It’s the kind of setting you’d expect to come of Half Life 2’s City 17 creator Viktor Antonov, who is visual design director on Dishonoured, and that gaming legend isn’t the only glimmer you might recognize in Dunwall’s streets, as elements of Bioshock also shine inherently through.
Thief? Hitman? How Did You Get in my Room?
The real meat though, is in the gameplay. What exactly are Arkane Studios attempting to bring back with Dishonoured? Choices; and there are hundreds. You might know well enough that being told you’ve been given ‘choices’ in a game these days often means ‘go in all guns blazing, or sit back and snipe’, which, to douse such a sentiment in the idea of gameplay ‘choices’ is a travesty. You’ll see none of that in Dishonoured.
You play as Corvo, the main character, framed for murder and sprung from prison after being drenched in an assortment of devastating magical powers that allow you to creep, crawl and kill in some of the most imaginative of ways. The many options you’re given to dispatch your foes, or slunk around them suddenly rings a large bell that sounds a lot like PC classic Thief. There’s an impossible number of ways to complete each mission, and whether you’re a deadly assassin, or a masterful concoctor of ill-fated situations, you’ll spend hours trying out the many methods at your disposal.
The pre-release code featured a mission to knock off a bloke somewhere in an excessively adorned brothel. Your path to him features an abundance of dynamic events; the world exists around you in a fascinating manner, and the conversations you overhear and take part in are truly absorbing.
When the target was finally located, we were shown just two of the almost endless array of possibilities when it comes to taking him out. You could pause time and hang some arrows in front of his face, turning Bernard’s Watch back on and observing them puncture a few holes in his head, or, more interestingly, you could possess your target directly, walk him out to the balcony and then leap out of his body, the shock stunning him into disorientation before you summon a gust of wind to send him hurling off the precipice and into the distance, whilst the female witness screams piercingly at the terrible accident that has just occurred.
With Hitman, Half Life and Deus Ex devs at the reigns, this could be the refreshing new title that not only brings us a bold original IP, but one that also puts a genuinely intelligent and engaging piece of fiction back at the forefront of modern gaming. Our advice? Get a pre-order in.
Speaking of preordering, why not try the fine chaps at Hitari for your copy of Dishonored; this indie retailer has the Respawn seal of approval, and as we all know, that’s a prestigious seal. Click the link for more! Well go on then!