by Chris Davis
previewed on X360
The Grand Escape
Corvo moves on and eventually finds the door leading into the lawyer’s office. Before unlocking the door though the player peers through the keyhole and listens to the banter of the lawyer and the three guards. The discussion yields credence to the lawyer’s alleged corruption but without physical evidence the secondary objective cannot be completed. Ignoring this fact, Corvo bursts into the room where three waiting guards draw their pistols and fire at him. Corvo reacts quickly and activates another spell which stops time. Before the spell expires, Corvo delivers several fatal blows to each guard but the impact is not felt until normal time is resumed, at which point they all fall to the ground. Turning to the lawyer, the player executes the target.
Corvo has successfully killed the lawyer but his mission is only halfway through: he needs to make it back to the sewer alive. Walking out onto the balcony, anarchy has taken over the courtyard. As the watchtower turns in his direction and prepares to send a swath of ammunition in his direction, Corvo quickly uses Blink to position himself on the tower’s platform before jumping down to the street. Near the force field he is accosted by three guards for which Corvo doesn’t have time to fight. Instead he activates yet another magic spell that summons a horde of rats. These rats swarm the guards and quickly eat them alive in a manner that’s not for the faint of heart, stripping the bodies of flesh and muscle as quickly as piranhas are capable of. Corvo continues on, the modified force field preventing his pursuers from following him before exiting through the same gate he entered through.
Back in the previous section of the city, Corvo arrives at the harborfront where a final challenge awaits. As he nears the guard post several citizens run in front of him from right to left, fleeing as they toss Molotov cocktails at an unknown enemy before being gunned down. Two bipedal walkers called Tall Boys lumber into view, the designs of which harkens Half-Life veterans back to that of the Combine Strider. The Tall Boys are manned by armored archers equipped with explosive arrows, making them a formidable opponent. As the Tall Boys take note of him and begin their attack, Corvo quickly freezes time once again and maneuvers out of their firing line and fires several bolts from his own crossbow. After several successful hits each go down, but without the use of the stop time ability it is clear that this is a far more difficult fight. Moving back down the harbor stairs our player returns to the sewer entrance where the demo ends.
Seeing Dishonored’s was both a thrilling experience and a quizzical one. Many questions are left unrequited and the game’s unique take on a morality system, Chaos, didn’t really leave us with any answers as to the consequences of your action (or inaction). What I was able to get out of Smith was that the game, at this point, does allow the player to do a pacifistic playthrough meaning that you can go without killing anyone which would certainly be quite the challenge. I was also told that this game adheres to classic stealth gameplay rules meaning there will be no social stealth aspects of the game ala Assassin’s Creed.
The most saddening fact I can admit to after having seen this very impressive demo is that, until that Friday morning, I had never placed Arkane Studios on my radar. What with the major attention-grabbing developers and publishers out there in the world stealing the spotlight with hails of bullets and magical elves, Arkane simply never piqued my curiosity. Within the span of a twenty minute demo however, I learned many things about Arkane, none the least of which was their clear dedication to making Dishonored well worth your hard-earned cash. This surprisingly unique title stands on its own and, come next year, may make you change your mind about how a first-person game should be played. We’ll have to wait and see if the game has the same impact when it releases next year but until then Corvo’s quest for revenge is definitely a title you should keep in mind for 2012.