Dishonored, Bethesda's newly-announced action-adventure, positions itself as something different. Led by Thief designer Harvey Smith together with Arkane head Raphael Colantonio and Viktor Antonov (who designed City 17 for Half-Life 2), the new project offers a fairly boilerplate story, featuring regal betrayal and supernatural powers. However, developer Arkane intends to use this setup – you play as a framed bodyguard who's secretly a master of stealth, and even more secretly a talented magician – to make Dishonored more interesting than the standard sneaking-and-neck-breaking fare.
Rather than grouping player abilities into standard healing/damage/manipulation categories, a la Bethesda's own Elder Scrolls series, Arkane equips players with more open-ended powers designed to encourage creative problem-solving. The studio says that enemy AI is strong enough to allow tactics like distracting or overwhelming enemies (remember, giving a computer human fallibility is much harder than just making it really clever) and that environments are interactive enough to figure into complex, player-driven strategies. This in turn feeds into a “chaos” system, which tracks the player's collateral damage and alters the story accordingly.
Our inner skeptic is wary of big promises about Dishonored. But hey, one title remembered for delivering considerably more than the preview hype ever offered was Deus Ex, which was designed by, wait for it, Harvey Smith.
Dishonored is scheduled to release in the second quarter of 2012. You can find more details on Bethesda’s new game in the August issue of Game Informer.
Jul 12, 2011