Previews

Dishonored: A masterpiece from the minds behind Half-Life 2 and Deus Ex?

Arkane Studios lets us loose on Dunwall

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Using his augmented vision power, Corvo can see guards' cones of vision, like an all encompassing Soliton radar. Metal Gear Solid's Mei Ling would be proud. Scaling the decorated interiors of rooms and taking out guards with poison darts, Corvo eventually reaches his final target. He bodily possesses the naughty politician then walks him over to a balcony before retaking his old form and blasting the sucker over the hand rail to his doom. To escape he jumps off the roof, possessing a passing city dweller moments before crunching into the ground himself. This is a skill combination Smith states they never intentionally designed, but were ecstatic to discover being utilised. It showed that they had left plenty of room for players to experiment.

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Steampain

Next up is the upfront, combat-heavy approach. This time no heed is paid towards moving silently. Corvo dashes over rooftops, again using his Blink ability, this time to cover large areas of the map in quick smart time. From atop the roof he jumps down, impaling a first guard unawares, before turning and Blinking over to the space behind another guard and brutally slicing his throat. More guards smash through a door and Corvo casually stops time in order to line up and fire crossbow bolts at them. With each burst of violence a discordant piano thumps in the background emphasising the morally bankrupt actions unfolding onscreen.

Dishonored pulls no punches with its violence, though it's not without moral incentivisations. Should you consistently kill too many people, the city of Dunwall will morph into a much darker version of itself. Later on in the game a family in the poorer district will be looking for their missing child. Should you reach that point of the story with a résumé chocka with acts of mass homicide then the same family will be ridden with plague, blood seeping from their eyes as they mourn their dead son.

The last thing we're shown is a hectic battle between Corvo and some stilt-wearing bad guys. Tallboys, as they're known, may look ridiculous, but they offer plenty of opportunity for Corvo to showcase his skillset. He leaps around the flooded district looking for opportunities to strike, eventually summoning a horde of scurrying rats to do the dirty for him.

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We're excited about Dishonored, not for its immaculately realised setting, nor its promise of a deeply intriguing story, though those elements certainly fuel our curiosity significantly. What we're really excited about is delving into a game that delivers bags of player freedom and immense prospects for experimentation, coupled with the tightly focused density of gameplay impossible in vast open world games.

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