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The DNA of Dishonored

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

Bioshock

BioShock is a game known for many things, chiefly its narrative. Of course, we don’t know enough about Dishonored yet to evaluate its narrative structure, and that’s perfectly fine. No designer or publisher wants spoilers flooding the internet months before a game is released, so it’s understandable that our knowledge has been limited, but there is enough information floating around to show some commonalities between these two titles.

A majority of the narrative in BioShock was relayed using audio tapes found in the environment, listening to announcements made over the PA system, and reading propaganda posted in the walls of Rapture. Dishonored also seeks to use the environment to tell the history and lore of its locale as well as using notes, NPC conversations, and political mouthpieces. As in BioShock, it’s completely possible for the player to ignore all these messages and just play the game, and it requires active searching to actually discover all these plot devices. For those of us looking for meaning and depth in our games, the resulting immersion is well worth a little extra effort.


 

BioShock did some other fantastic things besides tell an amazing story; it of course gave you some amazing superpowers and a unique playground to use them in.

It’s already well known that Corvo will be given some pretty crazy abilities in Dishonored, but that’s nothing new. Power ups granting superhuman abilities have been around long before even Mario was using mushrooms and flowers to double his size and shoot fireballs from his hands. What BioShock did differently was allow the user to use these powers with the environment to accomplish some crazy things. Say you’re at the end of a hallway with a half dozen angry denizens of Rapture charging toward you. What do you do? Seeing a convenient oil slick in front of you, you wait for a few of your opponents to set foot in it, then light it up with your ignite ability. The three or four that survive see the wall of fire and take an alternate route through an adjacent room that will bring them directly behind you. Normally, this would be a cause for panic, but you realize that you’ve hacked the security camera in that zone already, and only a single survivor emerges, followed closely by a security drone summoned by the camera. You take a few steps backward and allow the bot to finish off the last of your enemies, surviving the encounter without firing a single shot.

Wind Blast

It doesn’t take a wild imagination to find the common ground here. We’ve already seen some of the crazy things Corvo’s powers allow him to do. One popular story is how a player surprised the developers during play testing as he was being fired upon by a guard. In response to the assault, he used the time freeze ability to stop the projectile in midair, then possessed the guard, and then positioned him in front of his own bullet before releasing the time freeze, causing the guard to indirectly die by his own hand. That’s not all, there’s potentially hundreds of ways to use your supernatural abilities in any given situation, just watch the trailer we posted not too long ago.

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Comments

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.

Michael117

08/17/2012 at 06:58 PM

a+b=c

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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