In my previous write up of Dishonored (http://www.onemetal.com/2012/05/03/dishonored-a-first-person-neo-victorian-steampunk-stealth-action/) I suggested that there was a lot to be hopeful for in Dishonored. After spending 30 minutes playing this new first person action adventure, I have to say that my hopes are now, if anything, even higher.
Dishonored is visually stunning. Softly stylised, it feels the right mix of realism and illustration and Playing on the XBox 360 I can say that despite the rich aesthetic and the detailed environments the frame rate remained high throughout. The steampunk-infused victorian setting has Viktor Antonov’s dystopian City 17 vibe running right through it.
Clearly a child of its heritage, Dishonored’s Deus Ex, Thief and Arx Fatalis roots shine through (if indeed roots can be said to be shiny) and there is a fair hint of other influences such as Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed and perhaps a hint of Fable. Gameplay is a strategic mix of stealth, puzzle-solving adventure and combat, and these aspects seem wonderfully woven together.
Combat feels good, and just the right level of gory. The guns and crossbows felt powerful but not so powerful that close combat was always avoidable. Melee combat is simple but very effective, and true to its stealthy nature when confronted by 3 or 4 guards the odds are squarely against you.
Dishonored clearly wants you to experiment and to explore. From summoning swarms or rats, posing a rat and scurrying away while your former rat companions harass local guards, to freezing time and having guards shoot themselves with their own bullets formerly addressed to you; there is much fun to be had. Teleporting around the environment (using the Blink power) possessing guards, freezing time and using Dark Vision to see through walls are all in a days work for Dishonored’s protagonist.
There appeared to be a huge amount of room for personal innovation and creativity in how you addressed the game’s many challenges. I was told that one of the team that were showing the game at the event and completed the demo level in 45 minutes on his first play through, but later proved that it could be done in under 60 seconds if you know what you were doing. I personally love games that give you tools and let you be creative in the way that you use them, rather than give you a power that is inexplicably limited to a small number of very prescriptive situations.
From what I saw Dishonored looks set to be a this year’s surprise hit, and the start of a new an interesting franchise. I for one have already pre-ordered my copy ready for its October 12th release and I highly recommend you do the same.