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Dishonored Preview (PS3)

June 12, 2012 Written by Jonathan Leack

When was the last time you came across a game that can be labeled as a first-person Neo-Victorian/steampunk stealth action game? Likely never, and that’s precisely the reason I was so intrigued during my time playing Dishonored. Not only does the game feel fresh with its uniquely stylized environments, but the stealth action is loaded with variety and power.

It didn’t take long for me to find out that Dishonored isn’t just another shooter. Sure, I relied on familiar weapons such as the crossbow, pistol, grenade, and sword to fend off enemies from time-to-time, but I quickly graduated to the deep pool of abilities. The supernatural abilities that Corvo Atana, the game’s protagonist, possesses were what made the game turn from fun to immensely enjoyable. With the few weapons I had I was a formidable opponent who could take on small groups of enemies and potentially complete missions, but the skills are where Dishonored stood out.

A few skills, such as teleporting and jumping high, help with traversing the game’s beautiful steampunk environments. Learning how to move quickly around the game world required a little practice, but once I got the hang of it I couldn’t get enough. After a few minutes I was zipping around the environment like a bat, and in combat situations where I felt the odds were against me my agility proved helpful.

But those aren’t the only skills Corvo has, and I was able to use a few of them to defeat enemies in the most entertaining ways imaginable. My personal favorite was an ability called possession which let me mind control an enemy or creature for a period of time. With it I was able to sneak by enemies as a rat before killing my target unhindered. Similarly, dark vision granted me vision through walls so I could plan my attack with precision. Combined with stealth and finesse the effects of Corvo’s arsenal are devastating, and enemies were scratching their heads while trying to find me.

I spent a large amount of time playing the demo, and despite its brevity I couldn’t help but play it multiple times due to its strong impression of player choice. It was fun to blast my way to the goal by slowing time and decapitating enemies left and right, but it was even more fun to play tactfully and let my agility and smarts do the talking. Given that the full version will have multiple endings which result from choices made throughout the adventure, I see Dishonored packing a lot of play value.

The developer shared during the live demonstration that they’re aiming to make Dishonored look like a “moving painting”. Its use of colors and imaginative architecture do just that. Between its well-articulated visuals and varied gameplay I came away feeling like I did when I first played BioShock. That’s the level of potential that we’re dealing with here.

Dishonored is scheduled to release on October 9th in North America and October 11th in Europe.