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The DNA of Dishonored

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

Assassin's Creed

Let’s dispense with the obvious: both games star assassins, both games favor a stealthy, tactical approach while allowing for brute force, and both games contain some particularly nasty kills. All of this is enough to point to Assassin’s Creed as having common ground with Dishonored, but there’s one thing both games have in common that is somewhat unique to these two games: Assassin’s Creed’s notoriety system and Dishonored’s Chaos system.

In Assassin’s creed 2, Actions taken by the protagonist Ezio have a direct impact on his notoriety. As you can imagine, for someone whose profession requires anonymity and stealth, being notorious is not ideal. Generally speaking, notoriety is increased in the Assassin’s Creed universe by being socially disruptive. Things like attacking civilians, harassing guards, or being caught in the act of committing a crime will cause an increase in notoriety, causing guards to attack Ezio on site and rendering his talent for social camouflage utterly useless.

Likewise, Dishonored has repercussions for being socially disruptive, but the impact is far more than just an increase in enemy manpower and guard hostility. In Dishonored, yes you’ll see an increase in the amount of patrols for doing things like taking out targets in the open and killing indiscriminately, but you’ll also see changes to the environment itself. NPC dialogue and temperament will change, the presence and amount of rats in the city will increase or decrease, and the ending of the game will differ based on how chaotically the character behaves. This system is slower and more deliberate than the one in Assassin’s creed. The number crunching takes place behind the scenes, and the player can only judge their chaos level by the look and feel of the city over the long haul. By contrast, Assassin’s Creed places an indicator on the player’s HUD, and the system is more fluid, allowing for changes in notoriety to occur rather quickly.

Finally, both games also allow the player to recover their status, or stabilize the environment. In Assassin’s Creed, discreetly pulling down wanted posters, or bribing town heralds are ways to reduce character infamy. The development team on Dishonored has been quiet on the specifics or their counterbalances, but they have stated that there will be side quests in the game that can be completed to restore some order to a chaotic environment.

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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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