Dishonored is a first-person stealth action video game being developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is set to release on October 9, 2012 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Harvey Smith, known for his involvement in the Deus Ex franchise, and Raphael Colantonio, the founder of Arkane Studios, who contributed to such games as Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, are the lead designers on the game.
Viktor Antonov, the visual design director, who also designed most of the style of City 17, the Combine architecture, and the technology in Half-Life 2, has said the game has a Lovecraftian feel, and draws some inspiration from Half-Life 2, at the request of the production team.
According to Antonov, the other sources from which the game's art style derives inspiration are books and artwork, as opposed to video games and movies. The game is in a non-realistic, painting-looking style. The game's general design derives inspiration from the now defunct Looking Glass Studios, a highly innovative and influential games company of where many of the developer's careers started, such as Harvey Smith.
Dishonored, set against the backdrop of the city of Dunwall and the Rat Plague, follows the story of Corvo Atano, the last bodyguard to the Empress. He is falsely implicated in his charge's death by Lord Regent, her usurper, and imprisoned. Driven by revenge, years later he escapes prison, and becomes an infamous assassin as he strives to avenge his, and her, fate.
Dishonored will feature multiple endings, which are dependent on the player's actions throughout the course of the game.
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The game will have plot-determining dialogue choices, but not many: the focus is on affecting the world and the narrative primarily through your actions, instead of your words.
Corvo will go into battle with an extensive variety of weapons at his disposal, and also his supernatural abilities. Assassination kills fill up an adrenaline gauge. When the gauge is completely full, players can increase their combat prowess.
Each of the world's environments have been created with verticality in mind, enabling the player to experience the entirety of a level, from its sewer systems and waterways to its rooftops. Players can use Corvo’s freerunning expertise to scale buildings, slide under obstacles and sprint across platforms. Certain supernatural abilities also offer further use of Corvo’s movement.
Many areas are open to exploration; hidden rewards and experiences await, tucked away, for more adventurous players to find.
ChaosThe game features a "Chaos" system that tracks Dishonored's world-state. The more disruptive your actions, the more chaotic the world becomes. For instance, though an area may initally be calm, players can disrupt that serenity. Some actions are less chaotic, such as killing a guard and hiding his body in a dumpster, whereas raising an alarm or killing a civilian in broad daylight will provoke a greater response from the environment. The opposite is also true, and there are side-missions which, if executed properly, will lower existing Chaos.
Changes in the Chaos system might result in subtle in-game consequences, such as more rats appearing in an area or little differences in dialogue, or more noticable consequences, such as more guards appearing on patrols or characters refusing to interact with you or rewarding you, depending on what they think of your actions.
If you create enough Chaos, bedlam ensues: NPCs begin to attack each other, rats swarm the area, and the world through which Corvo moves becomes an altogether nightmarish place.
The developers emphasise that the Chaos system is not a morality metre, but a stability metre. It is meant to highlight the plight of Dunwall: its people are no longer concerned with right and wrong, but merely with holding on to the little certainty that still exists.
How "chaotically" a player decides to play the game is entirely up to them. Players can be extremely disruptive, creating death and destruction wherever they go, or they can take a subtle approach, even completing the entire game without killing anyone; the developers assume that most players will take a middle-of-the-road approach, trying to manoeuvre their way through hostile environments undetected but resorting to killing when their plans go awry. All play styles result in different playthroughs for the player.
Raphael Colantonio has described Dishonored's AI as "analog AI", meaning that the AI personality is structured along a spectrum, instead of on/off states. A number of characteristics are modified on the fly. For example, two guards talking to each other have narrower "vision cones", and duller hearing than their patrolling counterparts, and are therefore less likely to notice you than those on patrol. Light, mental state, ambient noise and such all affect how the AI reacts.
WorldThe world of Dishonored consists almost entirely of water but for the Isles, a group of islands in the north-west region of the world, and the Pandyssian Continent, a giant land mass to the south-east of them. Corvo's tale takes place in the calendar year of 1666, in Dunwall, the capital city of Gristol. The central hub, to which he continually returns between missions, is The Hound Pits, a pub.
Harvey Smith describes Dishonored's aesthetic as "retro-future-industrial", an aesthetic that combines influences from 17th-century England; modern, Orwellian dystopia; and anachronistic technology, such as spindled armatures, walls of light, and buggy-like vehicles.
The environment is intended to be, simultaneously, a storied backdrop and an interactive canvas, and not just a blank stage on which the action takes place. Stately monuments dot the city, while graffiti splashes red-bricked buildings. Prostitutes canvass neighbourhoods where overturned dumpsters litter the streets. Corpses wait to be thrown into the sea. Dishonored's world is designed in such a way that it telegraphs little pieces of information about the world to the player, while also allowing that player to interact with it in a meaningful, logical manner.
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