June 14, 2012

E3 2012 – Dishonored

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , — Jamie Love @ 9:19 am

E3 2012 Dishonored
Aside from creating a world where throat stabbings represent a leading cause of premature death, I really didn’t know much about Dishonored prior to E3. I suppose I assumed plenty about the title, primarily that it sought to create a parallel world where players were gifted with extraordinary powers, which left me imagining a Bioshock-type experience that didn’t make it the biggest priority on my list of must see titles.

Visiting with Bethesda last week has done wonders for my enthusiasm however. I’ve learned that Dishonored takes place in a steampunk world largely dependent on whale oil, which seems like a rather delightfully absurd resource to base an economy on, but perhaps this is why the atmosphere of the game feels so consistently grim and desperate.

E3 2012 Dishonored
Dishonored puts players behind the blade of a protagonist framed for the murder of the Empress he was charged with protecting and seeking revenge against the aristocratic powers that be. And really, who doesn’t want to play a game where they run around cutting down rich snobs?

The environment offers a strong dose of ornate European architecture, much of which shows the signs of age one expects in a dystopian-minded atmosphere, with an oppressive air that reminded me of Half-Life 2’s City 17. The few characters I saw wandering the streets managed to convince a sense of desperation that lingers throughout a not entirely unfamiliar world of haves and have-nots.

Players are indeed granted extraordinary powers within Dishonored, from the ability to teleport between locations and possess characters, to more offensive minded tactics such as issuing powerful gusts of wind and summoning swarms of rats to attack enemies.

What really caught my attention about Dishonored however, was that the game offered a real treat for anyone who enjoys sneaking around and eavesdropping within a videogame.

E3 2012 Dishonored
Watching a developer play-through of the game led my eyes to a brothel called The Golden Cat, where two assassination targets had ventured to unwind. Showing off the stealthy side of the game, I watched as the player possessed a fish in the nearby waters, and proceeded to swim along a pipe and then teleport back into human form within the bowels of the brothel. Two prostitutes were having a conversation nearby, which offered up the location of the first target, and creeping along the hallways of The Golden Cat offered opportunities to overhear further conversations between characters – peeking through keyholes even makes the muffled chatter from behind closed doors easier to hear.

The first target was relaxing in a steam room, and before my guide turned a valve to release a lethal steam bath on him and his company, there was again opportunity to hear the target prattling on. It might just be me, but I love overhearing all the chatter. It reminds me of games like Half-Life 2, where I’d stop and listen to Dr. Breen’s radio broadcasts defaming my character and asserting his control, deepening my belief in a real and tangible world at my fingertips. Heck, if you want a really obscure example, I can even still remember overhearing two stormtroopers complaining about their jobs in Jedi Knight II.

E3 2012 Dishonored
Since some players might be less interested in such pursuits, Dishonored offers choice in how objectives are handled, and I watched a second play-through of the exact same stage – except this time my guide was keen on leaving no survivors. Moving through The Golden Cat like a hurricane offered a chance to watch strange powers like the aforementioned swarm of rats, as well as quite a few of the throat stabbings the game already seems so well known for.

Given that I’ll always root for a game where players with different agendas can discover largely separate experiences, Dishonored finds an easy home on my watch list this year. But the little details, from the posters and artwork scattered around the environment, to the amount of dialogue going on around the player at all times, and even the fact that characters tend to vomit after you’ve possessed them, definitely has me keen on investigating the final product, which hits the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on October 9th, 2012.


  1. Interesting… I’ve never even heard of it.

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — June 18, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  2. That’s what I do! ;)

    Comment by Jamie Love — June 18, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

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