The Lyon-based Arkane Studios has previously worked on BioShock 2, and its new game, Dishonored, has more than a little in common with that series. From the first-person view to the supernatural powers and stylised visuals, many aspects of Dishonored feel familiar, so have we seen it all before, or does it have enough fresh ideas to stand on its own?
You play as Corvo Attano, who at the start of the game serves as Lord Protector to the Empress of the fictional city of Dunwall. After a brief game of hide-and-seek with her daughter Emily (which, cleverly, also teaches you the basics of stealth gameplay), you are framed for the murder of the Empress and Emily’s abduction, and imprisoned to await your execution.
That would make for a pretty short game though, so with the help of a rebel group known as the Loyalists, you escape to the Hound Pits Pub and are presented with a mask to hide your identity. However, it’s not until after the prologue when Dishonored really gets interesting; after a quick sleep, you somehow find yourself in a dream-like place known as the Void.
A mysterious man introduces himself as the Outsider, and gives Corvo the teleportation skill of Blink, and an item called the Heart, which has the power to reveal information about locations and characters. It can also lead you to Bone Charms and Runes; strange objects that can be spent on new supernatural powers, or used to upgrade your existing powers.
These enhancements give Corvo the strength he needs to help exact revenge on those who framed him, and hopefully restore the late Empress’s daughter to the throne. However, to complicate matters further, Dunwall is presently suffering a rat plague; an epidemic that sees the streets overrun by carnivorous rodents and infected humans transformed into mindless killers. Fun times!
Although Dishonored is a stealth game at its heart, you are usually free to approach missions from any direction, both geographically and in terms of gameplay. Do you sneak onto the roof and tackle the objective in a non-lethal manner, or charge in through the front door and strike down anyone who gets in your way? The choice is left entirely up to you.