I’ll make this plain: Dishonored is already on my radar and could very well become one of my most anticipated games of 2012. If you’re wondering why, read on— In the latest production from Bethesda, Arkane Studios puts you in control of a supernatural assassin wrongly accused of killing an empress. You embark on a quest to clear your name (and make a few other discoveries in the process), and you can approach your objectives in multiple ways. An assassin usually employs stealth to get things done, but there will also be hand-to-hand melee combat, shooting, and other gameplay mechanics.
The game takes place in a stark yet engrossing city, where a terrible plague has already wiped out half the population. You are infected with the disease as well, although we aren’t yet sure how this will impact your adventure. And there are other problems, too, as the guards wandering the streets are often hostile, and ravenous flesh-eating rats aren’t afraid to attack stray humans. It’s an urban landscape rife with suffering and fear; it’s this kind of atmosphere that compels us to survive and succeed. As you progress, you will have to be tactful, patient, and observant. You’ll always have options, but there will be times when a full frontal assault is out of the question. In other cases, you might want to display your skill and power.
You’ll be able to block, parry, dodge, and execute nasty stealth kills. As you build up the stealth skills, your adrenaline increases as well; this lets you unleash an “adrenaline kill,” which is just downright brutal. Obviously, this is something you’ll want to hold in abeyance until you come across a particularly tricky situation. The aforementioned rats can cause an issue as well, but some might actually assist you, and this is where the supernatural comes into play: of the many special abilities you’ll have at your disposal, Possession is one of them. It lets you take over the minds of small enemies, and the rat qualifies, so…
Rats are pretty tiny and capable of finding a lot of hiding places. Furthermore, when the rat is released after crawling through a small hole or pipe, your character will emerge in the rat’s position. So it’s sort of like teleportation via transformation, and that is gonna come in handy. Another skill that is likely to prove useful is the assassin’s ability to bend time. Basically, you can freeze time for a little while, which allows you to either kill anyone easily, or simply steal something of value and disappear into the night. You’ll also be tasked with being creative and innovative, as setting traps for your pursuers will be an effective means of escape.
Lastly, character customization will be a major part of the game, and the developers are adopting a newer style of progression. As they’re not fans of games that unlock powers at certain points in the story, they’ve implemented a skill mechanic where you exchange runes for new powers. Unsurprisingly, stronger powers require more runes. Also, you’ll collect money, which can be used to purchase items and equipment, along with bone charms, designed to give your character small stat boosts. Yeah, it sounds a lot like an RPG in this instance, so maybe that’s why I like it. But I love the stealth, the innovation, the freedom, and the atmosphere, too.
Look for Dishonored some time next year. And also look for more media, which should be headed our way soon.
8/15/2011 Ben Dutka