Dishonored is easily one of the most anticipated titles of E3 this year and, luckily for us, Bethesda showed an in-depth preview of the unique IP. The main character, Corvo Atano, was once the bodyguard for the Empress before being accused and imprisoned for her murder. In order to get even, this supernatural assassin starts a hit list for those that have wronged him and placed him in the unfavorable situation that he has found himself in Dunwall, a city powered by whale oil. This leads to a high body count… or maybe it doesn’t. The best part about Dishonored is that it allows the player to choose their own approach as well as decide who to take down and how to do it. This usually leads to two choices: stealth or all-out combat.
To kick off the demo, things were started off silently. Guards were avoided using a quick teleportation ability (one of many available powers), taken out using a non-lethal choke-out and the bodies of the unconscious were hidden inconspicuously in shadows, corners and heavy brush. After maneuvering around and knocking out a handful of guards, Corvo located the Golden Cat, the building housing the two Parliament targets. At this point, we were informed that there were 8 ways into the building. Sure, there were basic options such as the front door and the roof, but Corvo decided to take a more interesting approach. The assassins stealthy approached the nearby body of water and selected his Possession ability from the power wheel. He then proceeded to possess a fish and swim through an underwater vent and into the building. By leaving the possessed fish, Corvo appears to literally leap from the person or animal that acted as his host. This makes puzzle solving and stealth very interesting. Dark Vision was enabled once inside the Golden Cat, quite similar to Batman’s detective mode, to view the paths and vision cones of patrolling enemies. After expertly avoiding those on duty, one of the targets was found inside a steam room talking with a women. Instead of approaching him directly, the player found a valve and overloaded the steam room with, well, steam. Target eliminated. Now, it was time to find the second targeted man. Having access to the highest level of Possession, the target was taken control of and forced to walk outside onto the balcony, effectively separating him from company. Corvo then jumped out of the stunned target and used a wind blast power to knock him over the balcony and to his death.
The combat heavy playthrough managed to be even more brutal and a pile of dead enemies were left in the player’s wake. Corvo teleported directly in front of enemies and immediately delivered a devastating blow and even dropped down on them with dagger at the ready. As the blood started to fly, I realized that body parts flew into the air as well. Dismemberment will be a common sight when force pushing, slicing and dicing and having a flood of rats eat enemies (yes, that last one is a power). The fluidity of the combat was impressive. Much like Bioshock, each of Corvo’s hands was used for something else. The left hand could either wield a gun, a small crossbow or one of his powers. The right hand seemed to be reserved for the main character’s blade. It’s truly a sight to behold when distant enemies are being shot and close-up opponents are being countered and stabbed.
Dishonored is all about allowing the player to figure out the approach they feel is best and executing their plan. There are so many different paths that lead to success, but they all have different outcomes. Depending on the number of enemies killed and innocents slaughtered, the ending will change. Watching players challenge themselves by trying to take out as few characters as possible should lead to creative uses of the available powers. You’ll get your chance to shed gallons or teaspoons of blood on October 9th.