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The DNA of Dishonored

Five games/series that reflect the heritage and influences of Dishonored

Deus Ex


Here’s another game frequently mentioned by the creators of Dishonored, and another that sees Harvey Smith’s name appear in the credits, this time as Co-Creator. Like Dishonored, Deus Ex placed an unprecedented value on player choice at its time of release. Often, the player was presented a goal without a single, direct path to accomplishing it. It falls on the player to utilize their skills and abilities to create their own means to their end.  Furthermore, the game frequently presents the player with choices that have very real consequences, something the designers of Dishonored state will also happen in their game. Choosing to kill the target of a mission in Dishonored may lead to one outcome, but you can also choose to let them live, which will lead to another, wholly different story path for the game.

Another commonality is that your character evolves based on your preferences. In Deus Ex, the player was able to choose protagonist JC Denton’s upgrades and enhancements by assigning skill points and installing nano-augmentations. At the end of the game, the player could only have chosen 9 of the 18 possible augmentations available. Furthermore, these augmentations had to be mounted on specific, limited slots on the character himself. For example, only one slot is available for leg modifications, but two mods are available, forcing the player to choose between increased movement speed, or being able to run without making noise.

Players will likewise be able to choose their enhancements in Dishonored using the Rune system. The details are scarce, but what we know so far is that runes are items that can be used to acquire and enhance Corvo’s mystic abilities. Each ability has a cost assigned to it that can only be paid in these mysterious runes. Stronger abilities require more runes, while lesser abilities are more affordable. There’s a finite amount of these available in each play through, and it will not be enough to fully max out your character. Where Deus Ex limited its upgrades with slots, Dishonored does so with runes.

As a result, players need to carefully consider which of those abilities they purchase, as they will determine how you will be able to play the game. In Dishonored, as in Deus Ex, players can take a stealthy or brash approach to the situations they find themselves in, and as mentioned earlier, this will have a direct impact on the player’s experience. If you want to lay waste to every single breathing thing in your path, both games allow that option. If you’d rather be more selective in the taking of lives, that will work too. Just keep in mind that the resolution of Corvo’s story will be crafted by the kind of individual he is.


Another aspect of Deus Ex that the designers have linked to Dishonored is the mission structure. Where Thief was a level by level affair, despite how open those levels felt, Deus Ex took great pains to seamlessly link the missions together in a cohesive whole. Yes, Deus Ex was still divided into environmental chunks, but each one ended where another began, giving the illusion of a large world. While Dishonored won’t be a giant, open, Grand Theft Auto-style sandbox, choices and changes made to the world and your character will change the actions of NPCs on a universal level, not just within your current mission.  Each mission will have a definitive beginning and end, but the transition won’t be as jarring as it is in other titles that have structured levels.

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Julian Titus Senior Editor

08/17/2012 at 06:10 PM

Angelo, you're speaking my language. I haven't played Thief but I always wanted to. This could end up being a dark horse for game of the year consideration.


08/17/2012 at 06:58 PM


a=M117, b= dishonored, c= happy times

This was a pleasure to read Angelo. Every game on the list is amazing. I'm happy simply seeing games like Dark Souls and Bioshock get talked about, but the greatest thing is that they all lead to Dishonored in the end and influence the designers. Dishonored is the greatest surprise to show up in a long time. During E3 and post E3 I was oblivious to this game's existence. When you and Mike started turning me onto the game and telling me about it, I was shocked at how this under-the-radar game just snuck out of nowhere and immediatly got me to fall in love with the ideas its selling.

I haven't been this excited for a new IP since I started getting hyped for the release of Mass Effect 1 back in 07'. Bioshock was unforgettable and it was the greatest out-of-nowhere surprise to show up that year for me, but this time around I'm far more excited about Dishonored than I was for Bioshock. The actual gameplay in Bioshock never did it for me. Rapture was great, the narrative twist was great, but Bioshock and the Rapture setting are honestly just a one-time flash in the pan experience that won't work anymore for me. I don't want to go back to Rapture ever again, and I don't want the same Bioshock gameplay at all. It's absurd how much I love that game and how much of an impact it had on me, yet I can't stand playing it anymore.

In Dishonored, not only does the environment and narrative seem like it should be really interesting to explore (like Bioshock), but the gameplay seems like it will be a blast. I'm very excited for the gameplay, I think it will be the best part of the game. In terms of combat and exploration, I believe that the sneaking, spying, and hunting will be incredible in Dishonored. It's adding flavor from so many of my favorite experiences and games, but it seems like as a total package it will be more fun than those individual influences. This probably isn't fair to say since Bioshock Infinite is looking to be very different than Bioshock 1, but my hype over Infinite has faded a lot since I got interested in Dishonored. For some reason I feel like Dishonored is scratching my Bioshock itch and doing it better than Bioshock ever could. I don't know what "itch" it is that I'm talking about and why it makes me less interested in Bioshock, but I noticed that Dishonored just seems like it's giving me exactly what I want from a first person adventure/shooter.

I study a lot of my games, and I'm always playing in a game saying things like, "I wish they would've done this other thing. I wish they would've added these other features. I wish this level would've been designed with..." Well when I look at the gameplay videos for Dishonored I don't find myself wishing for revisions and redesigns, I just get excited to use all the tools they already have. It's not very often that I shut the fuck up while playing a game and just bask in it. I'm always complaining and trying to find ways to make games more fun. Dishonored looks so well made and fun that I just want to enjoy it and see what they did.

Our Take

Nick DiMola Director

09/06/2012 at 10:36 AM

I've been meaning to reply to this since before it was even posted, but life has not made that easy. That being said, Dishonored reminds me so strongly of Geist it's not even funny. The possession mechanics in first person, possession of a variety of creatures, etc, it's all very Geist-like.

I know that almost nobody has played the game, but it was a great concept that was a bit stunted by its execution. Regardless, Dishonored looks to get it right, which is making me EXTREMELY excited for the game. Combine that vibe with all of the titles Angelo listed here and Dishonored is looking like it might have some GOTY potential.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

09/06/2012 at 12:20 PM

I remember being really impressed with Geist at my first E3, and then my second E3, and then I never got around to playing it when it finally came out. Always wanted to though.

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