You can play through the entire
game without killing anyone...
...but these guys look like they
might be spoiling for a fight.
In Dishonored you play an
assassin with magical powers.
latest info Find new ways to stab people in Arkane’s steampunk city
Dishonored is about tools. You’re the bodyguard of a murdered empress—nice job, by the way— and you’ve been framed for her
death. You’re trained in combat, but even
you can’t hack through everyone in this
strange, tumultuous city. So you rely on
tools, conventional and otherwise.
Dagger, crossbow, traps The basics
are effective, but they’re not tools of brute
force: the perfect application of each
means using stealth or other trickery to
get the jump on people. A single guard
facing the wrong way can be silently
backstabbed, but when that situation
doesn’t present itself, Dishonored gives you
the flexibility to engineer it.
Blink Dash for ward in an instant,
skipping all the space
between you and your
all over Skyrim will know
how handy that is from
that game’s Whirlwind.
Shout In Dishonored it
can be used for evasion,
mobility, stealth, or even as a battering
ram. An blunked-into opponent is
staggered by the force, and Dishonored
is littered with collapsing scaffolds and
other grisly fates for the stumbling victim.
Developer Arkane has proven its knack
for environmental misfortune with Dark
Messiah of Might and Magic.
Pause Something of a step up from the
traditional Bullet Time. Time is frozen
for everything except you and objects you
interact with: you can load and fire your
crossbow, but the bolts won’t go an inch
beyond its prod until time flows again.
Vanish Not yourself, but a body. You
can drag it around to a hiding place if
there’s one handy, but if you want to be
sure the corpse won’t tip anyone off, your
supernatural powers can vaporize it.
Possession A risky gambit—become
someone or something else. Man or beast
are equally viable candidates, but if you’re
going to jump into a rat, be aware that if it
dies while you’re in there, so do you. It’s a
step beyond mind control: you’re actually
in your host, in some gruesome sense.
When you choose to release them, your
physical body emerges from theirs.
There are more tools, of course, but
the combinations of these are what really
make Dishonored stand out. The dagger
lets you backstab, but it’s other tools that
can put you in position to do so: blink past
your enemy to get behind him, pause time
and stroll to the perfect ambush spot, or
possess a random stranger so you can get
him when his guard is down.
The type of game that allows this
intricate play is sometimes called the
immersive sim, a subgenre that covers
intricate games like Thief, Deus Ex,
and System Shock. They’re all about a
wide selection of abilities that follows
consistent rules the player can find
creative ways to exploit.
It has been a rather underserved genre
for years, but since BioShock’s massive
success, it’s been slowly mounting a
resurgence. Between Syndicate, BioShock
Infinite, and now the cunning trickery
of Dishonored, 2012 could be the year the
immersive sim rides again. Tom Francis