Posted October 1, 2012 by Zeth in Previews

Dishonored Preview

Dishonored has the kind of design pedigree dreams are made of.  Take the already solid talents of Arkane Studios and add in Harvey Smith (Deus Ex developer), Ricardo Bare (Deus Ex designer) and Viktor Atonov (designers of Valve’s City 17 from Half Life 2).  What you then have is a distilled brew of talent that could produce one hell of a stealth action title.
And that’s exactly what Dishonored is setting out to be.  Melding the stuffy try-&-die nature of a more traditional stealth title with the more immediacy of a title like Bioshock.  This is something that Deus Ex managed to do well, as did forerunner series Thief.
In Dishonored you take on the role of Corvo Attano, a former bodyguard to the Empress.  Attano was setup to be the fall guy for the Empress’s murder.   Years later he has blended in tot eh background of life in the industrial city of Dunwall.  There he waits as an Ass assin to avenge the Empress and clear his name.
Dishonored has clearly been built from the ground up to allow players to tackle scenarios dependant on their own unique attitude.  You can go in hard and try and fight your way through from start to finish.  You can sneak, slither and slide your way past guards and obstacles to achieve your goals silently.  Or, and this is more my play style, you can mix it up and sneak when you can  then go in sword slashing and crossbow blazing when it all goes south.  This flexibility is what will take Dishonored from a potential niche title to one that can be enjoyed by the masses..  This is something Splinter Cell and Hitman have struggled with over the years.

dishonoured preview

Playing the game you can easily see the influences of the art directors on every screen.  The world looks lived in, realistic ye t just that that little bit removed from your own life and experiences.  Character models look great and the general artistic style and character design is pleasing and bold in its wholehearted approach.

Whilst talking about looks you can see the game is pushing the now aging Unreal Engine 3 to its limits on current generation console.  A few small issues start to creep in here and there – clipping, shadows jumping around and others – but nothing truly detracts from the game play being served up.

The area I played was a docks like section where you needed to gain entry to someone home and locate them at the top of the building.  The streets were starkly empty but rather than feel like it was short changing me on a crowd it just made it all the more eerie as I approached some guards talking.  Rather than take them down I walked to the left and found a hole in the wall.  Jumping through I then had a choice  to the left of me was a way for me to get down to the water and head to the building without getting spotted by the guards talking to my right.  Then in front of me was an electrified area housing two innocent towns folk.   I could make a break for it and save my own hide or I could aid these two.
Making the choice to save them I tried to sneak behind the guards, most games it would have been out of the view range, but not these guys.  A few feet from my goal I was unceremoniously hacked down by the both of them.    Crap!  So second time I edged out of the hole in the wall, lined up a crossbow bolt and took out guard one with a headshot.  A quick bit of melee sword combat later and both guards were down and I was talking to the freed prisoners.  They told me of a hidden safe in a nearby building which wou ld not have shown itself has I not helped these two out.
dishonoured preview
It’s things like that which have people so excited for this game.  The open nature of it all, strong art style, multiple weapons at your disposal (you should see the fun bolts for your crossbow!) and the slightly clunky, yet satisfying melee sword combat.  I did find at times you could get easily over powered by the guards.  This may have been in part to me not fully embracing the magic system the game has to offer –  I also think maybe the game will be a little unforgiving of simple mistakes.    Also at times the game seemed a little slow in pace and not signpost clearly your route of travel. Once again this is most likely due to the fact I only played about 25 minutes.
Of all titles on display at the Expo in London that day this on surprised me the most.  I’m not a fan of stealth titles in the slightest.  Although I am a huge Thief and Deus Ex fan.  This game felt so much like playing those titles that it instantly shot to the upper echelons of my “must have” list for the tail end of 2012.
Dishonored hits the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 09/10/12 (US), 11/10/12 (AUS/JAP) and 12/10/12 (EU/UK).


Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.