With its instantly recognisable steampunk-aping setting, it's hard to imagine Arkane Studios' deliciously dark assassin sim being set anywhere else other than Dunwall, but it turns out Dishonored's original brief was a far cry from the game that stabbed its way into our affections.
In that interview in the latest issue of Edge, co-creative director Harvey Smith reveals Corvo's supernatural slasher found its origins during a low ebb for the studio. With two of its internal projects collapsing and the potential chance to work with Bethesda in danger of imploding too, Arkane needed a fix - and fast.
"We thought 'Well, we're screwed. Now Bethesda's not going to work with us'," says Smith. "And they surprised us by saying 'No, we wanted to work with you guys, because you're you guys. You pitch something original, or we have this old ninja game concept no one has ever developed'.It was classic feudal Japan: sorcerous weapons and poison darts, and someone had killed your master and you were a ninja seeking revenge."
With the seeds for a magic-tinged revenge thriller taking root, Arkane had an even more unusual setting that would also add to the gestating genesis of Dishonored. "We pitched a counter proposal," adds Smith. "We came back with 'What if it was London and 1666, the last year of the plague, the year of the Great Fire?' And to our surprise, they said 'That sounds just as cool, and you sound more passionate about it. Go, go, go!'"
Released in 2012, Dishonored remains one of last-gen's most impressive new IPs, with everything from its inventive powers to its environmental storytelling keeping hopes alive for a potential sequel.