There’s a distinct lack of first person stealth games and that’s for a good reason, they’re hard to do. It is difficult to engage in cover-based stealth without having a third person perspective to show your surroundings. With super strong stealth and combat elements, Dishonored is the first to do things right in a long time.
There’s a reason that things work so well and it has to do with a selection of powers made available to you as your skills as a supernatural assassin progress. These skills form a strong connection with the narrative elements to form something that doesn’t occur often, a true connection between gameplay and narrative.
There’s a ting of stylized beauty to each of the levels, making them all feel interesting and unique. At first glance, the area that we were shown a playthrough of was very similar to Bioshock Infinite but transitioned to a more classical World War II feel as the level progressed. A later level was destroyed and seemed to be based off the living conditions of a war-torn country policed by enemy forces. We were told that it was the slums of the area, that everyone with the plague was sent there to be quarantined and left to die, basically.
We were tasked with a double assassination in this demonstration, two brothers who spend their time frequenting a “bath house”, not the best place to be for two parliament members. There were eight different ways to enter the bath house from the street, we took the roof on one playthrough and the sewer on the other. The sewer was interesting because we had to utilize one of the game’s most compelling powers: possession. This enables you to take possession of the character, giving you complete control over their actions, much to the confusion of the characters around them. I’m saying characters and not people for a reason, as when we entered through the sewer, we took possession of a fish. Yeah – it took me by surprise too.
Blink was another prominent power, allowing the player to quickly warp between cover and around the map undetected. It is essential to navigating the world, especially if you are attempting to complete an assassination without being detected.
According to the developers, the levels are slightly different every time, with enemies showing up in different places each time. Since this is the case, then listening to NPCs becomes vital when trying to figure out where targets are without running through the entire level looking for them. The audio is reflected in a 3D space, so if a conversation is happening on the other side of the door from where you are, it will sound muffled until you open the door or listen through the keyhole. If you overhear something pertinent to the mission at hand, your objectives will auto-update. It is a neat effect that works well with the pace of the gameplay.
When encountering potential enemies, multiple contextual options pop-up, giving you a choice of how you want to handle the situation. For instance, we had to steal the keys to the bath house but were given different options: we could kill the caretaker, knock her out, or just steal the keys and leave. There are so many ways that the situation could have played out, it was a real way to involve player choice that actually altered the outcome of the gameplay, rather than just changing which cutscene played at the end of the mission.
Borrowing from what the Hitman series is known for, throwing it into the first person perspective, and giving it a signature style, Dishonored is a refreshing take on the first person stealth genre. With countless ways to go about each mission, there are endless replay possibilities. When Dishonored hits the UK on October 12th, I will be trying every single one of those.
You can pre-order Dishonored here (PC), here (PS3) and here (Xbox 360).