Dishonored QuakeCon 2012 Hands-on Preview -- Eyes Wide Shut (for Good)By Kevin Kelly - Posted Aug 03, 2012
It’s more than a bit appropriate that this game is called Dishonored, because you can do so many dishonorable things in it. Like teleporting behind an innocent man and slitting his throat, or summoning a swarm of rats to devour a poor housemaid.
Or you can attack a guard, have him turn and fire his pistol at you, then stop time and possess him and make him walk in front of his own bullet. In fact, there’s an achievement for doing that.
Or you can just slaughter every single person in the mission, including your target, and then saunter towards the exit. Sound honorable? Not in the least. But those are only a few of the many routes you can choose in Dishonored. We’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on the game in the past, but at QuakeCon 2012, they were showing off a brand new mission, and we tried many different paths to glory.
Sadly, only some were successful.
In this mission, you’re tasked with infiltrating a party at the Boyle estate where people are all wearing masks, as are you. Except your mask looks just like…your actual mask. Your target is a certain Lady Boyle, but to complicate things, there are three lady Boyles at the party, all wearing masks. In a further twist, the Boyles have decided to play a game on their guests, with each of them donning a red, white, and black mask, so that their attendees have to figure out who they are. Thanks for making it challenging, ladies.
But your first order of business is getting into the party at all. Because while you can go incognito inside the walls of the estate, when you’re on the outside, you’re very suspect. Guards and Tallboys will come after you, and the zombie-like Weepers will chase you down as well. There’s a good bit of exploration to be done outside of the party, with runes and elixirs to find, but you can head directly into the party if your pants are on fire.
With multiple ways to slip in, I possessed a fish (snagging a breathing underwater Achievement in the process) and slipped through a hole in one of the sewer gates. That led me to the cellars, and then into the party, where I mingled politely with guests (including the Boyles three), snacked on fancy foods, drank cider, and explored the bottom floor while staying away from the off-limits upper floor which is guarded by a wall of light and armed patrols.
One party guest who was in a particularly festive mood asked for a drink, and once I fetched it for her, she spilled the beans on which Boyle was in what outfit (the game randomizes it each time you play) and I was off and running. I followed the proper Boyle (she’ll show up on your screen marked by a chevron when you find out which one is which) and waited until she was all alone, and then gutted her like a fish. Once I hid her body, I was free to explore the ground and look for more goods to cash in and elixirs to pocket.
Exiting the level was a bit more challenging, as your trusty cohort Samuel has had to move the boat you’re escaping on, and you have to get past two Tallboys, unless you offed them earlier.
For the second run through, I simply Blinked myself over the front gate, chased down a guest’s lost invitation that was caught by the wind, and entered the party as a legit invitee. Stealth was the order of business this time, and I stuck to the shadows and corners as I eavesdropped on conversations and slowly strolled through the house. But a Lord Brisby stopped me and said he needed to speak privately. As it turns out, he’s in love with the same Lady Boyle you’re looking for, and he asks you to bring her to the cellar instead of killing her.
I accomplished this by possessing her and walking her into the kitchens, and then knocking her out with a sleep dart and carrying her down to her waiting lover, who whisked her away on a boat. Mission completed, I then slipped back into the sewers and to Samuel’s boat.
For my last run through, I killed every single person in the level, including the Tallboys, the innocents, the Weepers, and a few rats and fish. When I killed the third Boyle (without knowing who was who) the game said “Process of Elimination” and cleared the mission for me. Nice! After that it was time to explore all the hard to get to nooks and crannies.
- VIDEO: Dishonored Gameplay Preview
But once you’re inside this game and not hurried by a mission, you can take some real time to appreciate the detail and look of this world. The Boyle estate highlights the differences between the haves and the have-nots in Dunwall in the stark contrast between the steely gray city streets and the rich and opulent home of the wealthy whale oil magnates, which features hot air globes of light, gaudy décor, and even the guests extravagant masks, including one dapper chap with an elaborate whale mask.
Arkane Studios has really put a lot into making this feel like a real world, from the sights to the sounds to the ambient animations that permeate each environment. There’s also a good deal to the story that they are holding back (thankfully), although we did get to use The Heart in this build.
This is a sort of bio-mechanical contraption that Corvo receives earlier in the game, and it reacts to runes and beats faster the closer you get to one. Additionally, you can equip it and squeeze it when looking at things in the game, and it will “whisper” secrets to you. I stood near a Tallboy and squeezed the heart, and it’s eerie feminine voice spoke in my ear “Watch out for their legs.” Not a terribly deep insight, but a nifty function and fun device all the same.
That Heart comes in handy as you track done the runes in the game, which let you upgrade and purchase abilities. I upgraded my health and purchased a “Shadow Kill” ability that turns the bodies of people I have slain to ash as long as they haven’t seen me. Upgrade to level two of that skill, and it turns them to ash no matter what. Which is handy because it means you won’t have to hide bodies anymore. But don’t worry, their loot just simply falls to the ground, unharmed.
Up to three of the Bone runes can be used to augment your natural skills, such as letting you swing your sword faster, or building up adrenaline (which you can use for certain skills) when you kill rats. The game's RPG element doesn't seem particularly deep, but it is very fun to play around with and to experiment with different options. Personally, I would recommend upgrading your Blink and Vitality skills early on, which should keep you both healthy and out of harm’s way.
This game was announced a little over a year ago, and it has quickly climbed the ranks of games on the “must buy” list for later this year. It’s a long wait until October, but Dishonored looks better and better every time we see it. With multiple ways to complete each mission, and the ability to play the game without killing a single person (developer Harvey Smith has done it, which he casually mentioned to us at QuakeCon), look for a lot of replay value as you take assassinating into the supernatural.