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Arkane Studios

Dishonored photo

The Dishonored saga ends with The Brigmore Witches

Find out what happens to Daud
Aug 14
// Chris Carter
If you're ready to jump into the world of Dishonored yet again, The Brigmore Witches is out now on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360, and you can get a taste with the above launch trailer. The story brings an end to the tale of Daud, an...
DLC photo

Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches sets it all to rest

Fire burn and cauldron bubble
Aug 05
// Abel Girmay
All great things must end, and it has been a great run for Dishonored, which is set to conclude with Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches. This final DLC is meant to wrap up Daud's story, as he confronts Delilah Cooperspoon...
Prey 2 photo
Prey 2

Bethesda: Arkane Studios isn't working on Prey 2

It's still Human Head's baby
Aug 02
// Brett Makedonski
Prey 2 was announced a bit more than two years ago, and its existence has been nothing short of tumultuous. It's gone from highly anticipated to pronounced dead to on life-support, and no one's really sure what its statu...
Dishonored photo

'The Brigmore Witches' DLC for Dishonored dated

You can wait another month, right?
Jul 16
// Jordan Devore
Bethesda has lifted the curtain on the next and final DLC for Arkane Studios' Dishonored. Picking up right where The Knife of Dunwall left off, The Brigmore Witches is heading to PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on August 13 i...
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More Dishonored DLC teased by Bethesda

Two images hint at the conclusion of Daud's story
Jul 15
// Alasdair Duncan
Bethesda has teased more upcoming Dishonored content with a pair of mysterious images posted on its blog, with the promise of more to come. In the previous DLC, The Knife of Dunwall, the assassin Daud encountered a witch name...
Prey 2 quagmire photo
Prey 2 quagmire

Predation: Bethesda tried to buy Human Head

And more unconscionable reasons why I wasnít playing Prey 2 a year ago
Jun 06
// Steven Hansen
Yeah, I did a double take, too. Developer Human Head's Prey 2, recently considered vaporware much to the chagrin of all of us who fell head over heels for the Bladerunner-esque title two years ago, resurfaced recently followi...
Dishonored photo

Upcoming Dishonored DLC bundles pre-order rewards

Void Walker's Arsenal dated
May 03
// Jordan Devore
Pre-order bonuses aren't going anywhere, it seems. And if that truly is the case, the least a developer can do is make retailer-exclusive rewards available after the fact. I'll never buy this stuff, but someone else presumabl...

Review: Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall

Apr 22 // Fraser Brown
Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall (PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: Arkane StudiosPublisher: Bethesda Release: April 16, 2013MSRP: $9.99 The clock has been reset, and Dunwall is once more under the oppressive heel of the Lord Regent, Empress Kaldwin is recently deceased, and Corvo Attano is wanted for her murder. The real murderer, the veteran assassin Daud, takes center stage in this bloody drama. The Knife of Dunwall eschews the silent protagonist of its predecessor, giving Daud a voice in the form of gravel-throated Michael Madsen. I was not a fan of keeping Corvo mute throughout the original game, not merely because of the dissonance created by having people constantly talking to someone who never so much as utters a word, but also because it simply made him a frustratingly boring protagonist. So, on paper, having a more chatty assassin seemed like a wonderful idea. It is a shame, then, that Daud is almost as bland as Corvo. He feels bad about killing the late Empress (sort of), and is seeking redemption for her murder (sort of), and he does this by embarking on a convoluted investigation into a woman called Delilah that sees him assassinating a whole bunch of people. The narrative is far from gripping, and the lip service paid to themes like guilt and redemption are at odds with the murderous nature of Daud. Of course, much like its forebearer, the entire three-mission piece of DLC can be completed without murdering anyone, but unlike Corvo, Daud is a genuine assassin, and The Knife of Dunwall always seems like it leans more towards high chaos -- in great part due to the amount of enemies and their patterns. Foes are rarely by themselves, and when I spotted a solitary guard, he'd usually have a chum (or four) right around the corner, waiting to jump out at the most inopportune time. The Shadow Kill perk, which makes a welcome return, was my best friend, turning dead bodies to ash and allowing me to continue my murderous activities without alerting the veritable army of enemies.  There's a lot more urgency in The Knife of Dunwall, with harder-to-predict patrols making hiding an unconscious body a nerve-wracking affair, and close calls punctuated the whole experience with great frequency. I tried to use non-lethal approaches as much as I could, but I'd often find myself in situations where I'd be taking a huge risk by not permanently dispatching someone.  I recall one attempt I made to find an appropriate nook to hide a slumbering chap that ended in a significant amount of bloodshed. I was making past some boxes, looking for a good place to dump my snoring friend, when no less than three guards walked around the corner. I chucked the body aside, unfortunately dropping it over a rail and into the river, and blinked up onto the boxes above my foes. The new blink mechanic is rather delightful, stopping time entirely when you are standing still to allow for plenty of time to analyze the situation. From my spot atop the crates, I summoned a friendly assassin -- another of Daud's special abilities -- and managed to drop all three guards with bolts launched from my wrist-mounted crossbow as they struggled to deal with my swirling, vanishing ally. I could have dealt with these party crashers in a completely different fashion, mind you. If I'd been feeling less like sticking around, for instance, I could have blinked away, leaving one of Sokolov's ingenious ark mines behind as a little present. The guards would have inevitably given chase, and found themselves reduced to nothing more than ash on the ground, as the mine shot out fatal streaks of electricity.  Even when painting my blade with the blood of my foes, I never stopped trying to be a stealthy assassin. All three of the sprawling levels must have been designed by those familiar with staying out of sight, as they are laden with secret routes, high perches, and underground passages. Sneaking through a tunnel drenched in the blood of tortured whales might allow Daud to completely avoid a confrontation, while blinking up onto a walkway puts him in a perfect position to take dangerous foes out from afar, or even drop on top of them, blade first, before they can react. It is entirely possible to run through each mission in an almost straight line, slicing flesh, firing off bullets and bolts, and launching grenades with wild abandon, but to do so would ignore most of the DLC. Bone charms and runes return, there's a lot of new reading material for those with an appetite for Dishonored's rich lore, and little touches that breathe life into the world litter every level. Truly exploring each area can take up to six hours or more, but turning it into a blood-drenched sprint warps it into a half-hour-long, less-satisfying experience. While The Knife of Dunwall's missions may not reach the heights of the Boyle's masquerade or the Golden Cat, the first mission -- which sheds more light on Dunwall's grisly whaling industry -- is undoubtedly one of the best designed game-spaces in both the DLC and game proper. It both encapsulates what makes Dishonored such a delight to play and introduces a few new things, including the horrific Butchers -- a particularly nasty enemy who requires a wee bit more thought that most to dispatch. The new protagonist and plot may have been underwhelming -- and completely unfinished until Arkane releases the next piece of DLC -- but I'm less disappointed due to the polished gameplay. Daud has less tricks than Corvo, and damn do I miss the talking heart, but it all goes towards making The Knife of Dunwall a more focused package. Solving puzzles by silently watching guards, figuring out who to dispatch and when; uncovering new paths when you find your progress blocked by criss-crossing guard patrols; and being able to adapt to increasingly challenging encounters lie at the core of the experience, not the narrative or plethora of powers. Dunwall also remains an intriguing place, filled with mystery and character, even if this particular yarn isn't all that interesting. After finishing Dishonored I wanted more, and The Knife of Dunwall gives me exactly that. Hell, at moments I even completely forgot that I was no longer playing Corvo, as both he and Daud do play in generally the same way. The promise of more DLC has me excited, if not to finish Daud's adventure, then to explore more of this detailed world, and embark on more devilishly challenging assassinations. 
Knife of Dunwall review photo
A honed blade
Crouching on the rooftop of a dilapidated building in the whale oil-fuelled Victorian dystopia of Dunwall, I felt like I had never left. I'd cleared the name of Corvo Attano, saved a child who would become an Empres...

Dishonored photo

Dishonored's lore summed up in a minute

They make it sound so simple
Apr 19
// Allistair Pinsof
Dishonored is the game with the racists people in the sky? Or is it the one with the head crabs? I've been playing Black Mesa and BioShock Infinite recently, so Dishonored feels like a distant memory, despite it being my per...
Dishonored: Knife of Dunw photo
Dishonored: Knife of Dunw

Dishonored: Knife of Dunwall gives you new powers

Hidden crossbow, and an ability to summon allies
Apr 11
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall sees you in control as Daud, the assassin responsible for killing the Empress at the very beginning of Dishonored. Daud is on a mission of redemption and players will find themselves explorin...
Dishonored photo

Dishonored's Corvo goes on a live action killing spree

With great powers come total carnage
Apr 05
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Dishonored's combination of magic and weaponry made for a perfect mixture of making you feel like a total overpowered badass. Stringing together kills all while teleporting around levels like your Nightcrawler from the opening of X-Men 2 can be thrilling, but you probably want to make sure you're not about to kill anyone important while on your spree.

I liked Knife of Dunwall more than Dishonored

Mar 31 // Chris Carter
In addition to abilities and items, Daud can also buy "favors," which are essentially optional bribes and special level variations Daud can set up through his influence -- such as having someone "accidentally leave a door open" and so forth. Based on my playthrough of the slaughterhouse, Knife of Dunwall features the same open-ended gameplay as the full release. I had at least three events where I could have approached the situation in a variety of ways, one of which may even leave a few players uncomfortable, given Daud's more violent and criminal nature. Michael Madsen's solid performance and recognizable voice also helps add to the allure. The DLC is three missions long, and it'll take you around an hour to fully explore each stage -- and of course, multiple playthroughs and item hunting are encouraged. From what I can tell, Knife of Dunwall ramps up the difficulty a bit to accommodate for Daud's prowess in the shadows. Specifically, the new Butcher enemy, who wields a high powered circular saw, can be a huge problem in tight corners. Butchers do a ton of damage up close, can block bullets, and take a ton of damage. They have whaleoil reserve tanks on their backs, which serve as weakpoints -- but often times, getting a clear shot can be harder than it sounds -- especially when other enemies are running after you. One thing's for sure -- I hope there's more of these encounters in the rest of the DLC. After I had all of my parameters taken care of, determined to win, I evaded my pursuers, and completed the mission -- at which point an Arkane developer came up to me and said, "dude, you've been playing this for over an hour! You're the only person today that's beaten the demo." Yep, through my sheer force of will to conquer the mission, I had completely lost track of time. Another cool aspect of the DLC was content in further exploring one of the biggest parts of the game's lore: the whaling industry. I don't want to spoil one of the big surprises of the DLC, but there was one event that was so disgusting, that it was sicker than anything I had seen prior in Dishonored. It's clear that Arkane is putting in the same amount of effort here as the core campaign. For those of you who are worried that it was taken out of the game, an Arkane developer was able to confirm to me that they didn't start working on the DLC until the full retail game was finished. Daud has a large selection of Corvo's weapon-set at his disposal, like the wristbow, sleeping darts, and more, but there's also new weapons like the Arc Mine (a zap trap), Chokedust grenades (gas based stun grenades), and new abilities that can be leveled up just like Corvo. The major difference between the two playstyles is the fact that Daud's blink, when standing still, freezes time entirely -- even in mid-air. It sounds like a subtle difference, but using the ability really gave off the aura of a master assassin. It was a ton of fun to be able to stop and think mid-combat, planning my next route. Of course, I didn't use it all the time, and you can simply blink quickly, just like Corvo. Knife of Dunwall really didn't give me any hint of it being a cash-in during my hour long playthrough of the first mission. So if I enjoyed it, despite my reservations with Dishonored, odds are you hardcore fans out there will dig it. Daud could stand to be a little more unique compared to Corvo from a pure gameplay perspective, but I still enjoyed my time with him, and his deep backstory makes him much more interesting than Dishonored's silent protagonist out of the gate. The real question is are you willing to pay $9.99 for story-centric DLC like this -- especially when there's a second $9.99 Daud DLC pack (The Brigmore Witches) on the way?
Dishonored DLC photo
The three mission DLC has more sandboxes to play in
Shortly after launch, Dishonored sprung some mini-DLC on us with the Trials of Dunwall challenge pack. But fans wanted so much more than that. They wanted full sandboxes, more story, and more of the world to explore...

Game of the Year et al. photo
Game of the Year et al.

Journey kills at the Game Developers Choice Awards

More than half of the awards, including Game of the Year
Mar 28
// Steven Hansen
Game of the Year, Innovation Award, Best Audio, Best Game Design, Best Visual Arts, Best Downloadable Game. That’s 6 out of 11 total awards, and the game was ineligible for two of them (and I’m still not sure why ...
Dishonored's initial plan photo
Dishonored's initial plan

Dishonored was originally to be set in medieval Japan

Don't call it steampunk. Or do, but it's not meant to be.
Mar 28
// Steven Hansen
Arkane Studios’ Sebastien Mitton gave a talk at GDC in which he revealed the warmly received Dishonored was originally set to take place in medieval Japan. Mitton continued, “We thought medieval Japan was not goo...
Single-player lives photo
Single-player lives

Single-player games still alive says Dishonored dev

All this negativity is just a phase
Mar 27
// Raz Rauf
With so many online multiplayer games such as Halo and Call of Duty becoming successful franchises, console online gaming really took off this generation. In doing so, the demise of single-player games has become a hot topic ...
Dishonored photo

Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall DLC out April 16

Step into the murderous boots of Daud
Mar 13
// Jim Sterling
Bethesda has today announced the second bag of add-on content for Dishonored, titled The Knife of Dunwall, is slated for a worldwide April 16 release date. It'll be available for systems across the board, enjoying release on ...
Awards photo

Journey wins big at the BAFTA Game Awards

The Walking Dead and Unfinished Swan win two awards each
Mar 06
// Alasdair Duncan
Looks like the folks at thatgamecompany might need a new trophy cabinet after Journey picked up five BAFTA Game Awards last night at the ceremony in London. The PlayStation Network title won awards for Artistic Achievement, A...

Dishonored's 'Dunwall City Trials' DLC gets a trailer

Complete with a rap and everything!
Dec 06
// Jordan Devore
Dishonored is one of those games that's mesmerizing to watch someone play well, and this trailer for the impending Dunwall City Trials add-on is no different. Releasing across all platforms on December 11, the downloadable c...

Bethesda: Dishonored sales 'exceeding expectations'

Success paves way for franchise
Nov 27
// Jim Sterling
Bethesda has told Destructoid that Dishonored, the critically acclaimed stealth-action title released last month, is performing above sales expectations, and the publisher is definitely pleased. While it declined to reveal ac...

Dishonored: Dunwall City Trials DLC coming December 11

Ten challenge maps and new Achievements
Nov 27
// Jim Sterling
Bethesda has announced that Dishonored will be getting its first downloadable content offering on December 11. Dunwall City Trials is a series of ten challenge maps designed to test you on stealth, combat, and agility.  ...

Dishonored has three bits of DLC on the way

Bethesda announces expansion content for murder simulator
Oct 25
// Conrad Zimmerman
More content will be coming for Dishonored, according to Bethesda. They've confirmed plans for three expansion products, the first arriving in December. "Dunwall City Trials" will include ten challenges for players to attempt...

Dishonored region-locked in Russia, just like Borderlands

Bethesda acts without honor
Oct 12
// Jim Sterling
Eastern European gamers are being diddled again, this time by Bethesda. Hot off the heels of Borderlands 2's controversial Russian-version region lock, it's become apparent that Dishonored is also using a locked version in Ea...

Here's how to customize Dishonored's FOV even more

Oct 09
// Jordan Devore
Some people have specific tastes when it comes to their field of view in games. Being able to customize this setting from within a menu is always appreciated, but it's still not something I would expect to see in every major ...


Two hot games, one launch day
Oct 09
// Jim Sterling
If there's one thing my Twitter feed has been telling me this week, it's that gamers are desperately choosing between XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Dishonored, two good looking games that, in their own ways, stand out among the gen...

Review: Dishonored

Oct 07 // Jim Sterling
Dishonored (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Arkane StudiosPublisher: Bethesda Release: October 9, 2012MSRP: $59.99 Dishonored tells the tale of Corvo Attano, bodyguard to a beloved Empress in a kingdom beset by poverty and plague. After returning from a diplomatic mission, the Empress is assassinated, her daughter kidnapped, and Corvo framed for the crime. After months in captivity, Corvo escapes his captors with the help of a coalition of loyalists, who set him up to become their assassin, dispose of the usurping regent's conspirators, and return Princess Emily to the throne. In many ways, Dishonored tells a classic story of conspiracy and revenge, playing it safe by sticking to a rather formulaic plot. Relying on familiar archetypes and well-worn tropes, the narrative doesn't do much to surprise the player. However, by sticking to established territory, Arkane has diverted its energy to telling the story very well, doing a remarkable job of painting the fictional city of Dunwall as a real dismal and oppressive place. The plague-ridden, poverty-stricken streets are beautifully realized in all their misery, painting the picture of a desolate realm that may not even be worth saving. All this in a world that isn't made up of browns and greys. Bright skies and colors abound in Dishonored, yet still the game remains so perfectly murky. The crapsack world of Dishonored is invoked by its characters, especially the unquestionably vile people you're sent to assassinate. From religious hypocrites to cowardly noblemen, the villains of Dishonored are rotten to the core, as ugly outside as they are inside. It is true that most of them play to the kind of tropes we've seen in many "corrupt regime" storylines, but rarely do games present them with the same level of energetic nastiness seen here. Not since Snake Eater's Colonel Volgin have I encountered enemies so deserving of justice. Subtle? Perhaps not. Incredibly rewarding when one of these horrible monsters gets a blade jammed in the trachea? Without a doubt. [embed]236085:45281[/embed] Played from a first-person perspective, Dishonored provides players with ample opportunities to be a rampaging murderer or a stealthy professional. A range of weapons are at Corvo's disposal, from conventional swords and pistols to deadly mine-like traps or rewire tools that turn enemy weapons against their masters. Early in the game, Corvo is also granted magic abilities by the mysterious Outsider, allowing him access to short-range teleports, wind blasts, or a miniature army of rats that swarm guards and eat all evidence of dead bodies. Weapons can be upgraded by finding coins and spending them at Piero's workshop. Piero can upgrade your mask to include optical zooms, make crossbows and pistols more efficient, and craft stealthier boosts or better traps. Magic is upgraded by finding runes scattered throughout each area, located by equipping a magical (and gruesomely detailed) heart that pinpoints each location. Although the heart makes finding the general location of each rune easy, getting to the exact position can be tricky, as a few are deviously well-hidden. The heart also finds bone charms, a limited number of which can be equipped for passive abilities, boosting Corvo's various attacks and defenses. Using magic and equipping charms feels very similar to the Plasmids and Gene Tonics in BioShock, one of several very clear similarities. The loot and health regeneration system are also nearly identical -- certainly not a bad thing, especially if you're a fan of 2K's now-classic shooter.  Though a master assassin, Corvo does not necessarily have to kill anybody. In fact, despite having a variety of deliciously effective murder weapons at his disposal, the former bodyguard will never be put in a position where taking a life is necessary, even if it looks like there's no other choice at first glance. A dream game for fans of pacifist runs, every single encounter is designed with player choice in mind. You can murder absolutely anybody, be they enemy or civilian. Conversely, you can become a ghost, wreaking revenge on a psychological as opposed to physical front. The player is given magic powers and weapons that aid either approach, with a crossbow that can fire regular bolts or tranquilizers, and skills that could see Corvo possess a rat and run right under a guard's nose or toss a sticky grenade right into his face and watch him explode. Of course, one can always take a balanced approach -- using stealth to slaughter foes one by one before taking out the remains in bloody combat. It's impressive just how well Arkane managed to bring both stealth and combat up to snuff, with neither element mechanically deficient or dominant. Trying to become a ghost and remain totally unseen is definitely the more challenging approach, but that doesn't mean players attempting such feats are powerless. There's a solid balance of lethal and nonlethal powers, and they all work exactly as intended. The stealth system is quite clever, especially since players can't just hide in shadows and expect not to be seen. True environmental awareness and judicious use of teleportation or possession will be required to get through each level unseen, as is the regular hiding of unconscious or dead guards. Combat, meanwhile, is a more slow-paced and tactical affair than your average run-and-gun experience. Corvo always holds his sword at the ready and can equip anything from offensive spells to pistols, bows, or bombs in the other hand. His firearms need to be manually reloaded after each shot, encouraging careful, well-timed firing. Similarly, enemies are good about blocking and dodging melee attacks, so learning when to defend and counterattack is essential. This deliberate and almost graceful approach to battle means that even murderous players will at least need to be clever and pick their fights wisely. It's more than possible to survive a fight with five guards at once, especially if you're summoning rats and blowing tornadoes around, but you need to have a confident knowledge of Corvo's strengths and limitations before engaging anybody. Just rushing in, blade swinging, will lead to frustration.  The emphasis on choice is not paid mere lip service, either. Each chapter of the game holds a true multitude of options for navigation. There are always several ways to infiltrate any territory and multiple methods of dispatching a target. Playing through a mission more than once really opens one's eyes to how impressively versatile each level is and how natural this versatility feels. It's not like there's one violent route and one stealth route, all but signposted with obvious air vents and the like. Stealthy routes are so seamlessly integrated into the environment that some of them are practically camouflaged. Only with astute observation will players find new ways into buildings, which is exactly how it should be. Dunwall regularly feels like a real city that's being exploited by the assassin, rather than a mere videogame level designed blatantly around stealth mechanics. Even if that's all an illusion, it's one that works. Environmental design is impeccable in this instance. With regards to taking out the principal targets of each mission, there are many ways to murder them, and always at least one nonlethal option. There is really nothing stopping you from just barging into a conspirator's room and shooting him or her in the face (aside from guards and security, of course), but for those playing mercifully, there are alternatives. You could set a target's own trap against him or find a way to discredit him so that his influence in the empire is non-existent and any threat to the loyalist cause is terminated. I couldn't describe examples without spoiling some brilliant moments, but suffice it to say there are genius-level ideas on show. Nonlethal options invariably require more guile and patience, but they are among the most satisfying choices, often seeming more cruel and punishing than simply ending the target's life. Whichever approach is taken, it's the getaway that really hits the sweet spot. Once the target is neutralized, Corvo needs to leave the area and find Samuel the boatman to get back home. That feeling of escape, whether you snuck in and out or kicked the doors down and found yourself running with guards in hot pursuit, serve as the ultimate payoff for each mission, and it's a payoff well worth reaching. It's a rare game that manages to deliver psychological rewards so well, but Arkane manages it like an expert. Relief, leading to pure elation, is a dividend received with gratitude every single time. Although players are free to act as they wish, there's no doubt in my mind that Dishonored considers the nonlethal approach the "right" way to play. Not only is it more satisfying to take enemies out by giving them more fitting and ironic punishments, the game world itself makes the player feel more justified for doing so. NPCs will mostly treat Corvo better if he keeps his hands clean, and the ending will be less dark. This is a little philosophically troubling when you consider that simply murdering some of the characters is often less sadistic than the "passive" alternative, but Arkane gets around this by still allowing for some murders while keeping Corvo's soul relatively stainless. Player actions are not guided by morality but by a "Chaos" system that determines how one's behavior affects the game world. The more brutal your approach, the higher Dunwall's Chaos rating will be, increasing the amount of vicious rats or zombie-like "Weepers" that stalk the streets, attempting to spread the plague. Chaos is quietly monitored in the background, logging how many times the player kills or is spotted, how many dead/unconscious bodies are found, and whether or not alarms are sounded. The more Corvo's "Masked Assassin" persona is seen, the more oppressive the world becomes as paranoia grips the ruling classes. However, as noted, the player doesn't have to be passive at all times. Chaos ratings can be brought down from high levels by completing subsequent missions stealthily, and players are allowed to kill at least several people per mission without raising the rating. That said, there are rankings available for those who kill nobody or remain completely unseen during the course of the campaign, and it's incredibly fun to shoot for such distinctions. The biggest thing holding Dishonored back is its visuals. Artistically, this is a gorgeous game. The steampunk aesthetic and decadent European architecture is fantastic, as are the exaggerated character models that give everybody a stylistically unpleasant appearance that helps craft the thematically unattractive world. However, the actual graphics seem dated and simplistic, especially when the texture issues are factored into play. Many surfaces are littered with blocky artifacts, and some textures blur or pop in abruptly when approached. Similarly, character animations have trouble with body parts moving through each other. In its worst areas, objects can look like poorly compressed JPGs. While hardly a deal-breaker, these visual setbacks can be hard to ignore in several places. The sound design at least makes up for a big portion of any aesthetic troubles. Daniel Licht lends his vast talent to the soundtrack, producing subtle yet atmospheric tunes, and an all-star cast of voice actors do a solid job of bringing the characters to life. Highlights are Susan Sarandon, pulling a fantastically creepy turn as the deranged Granny Rags, and the ever-talented Brad Dourif taking on the role of awkward genius Piero. My one other, slightly more petty complaint is that I'd have loved to have seen more variety in Corvo's offensive and magical options. While the environment is rife with possibilities, I feel that when it comes to employing one's practical skills, things feel a bit too conventional and obvious. Out of all the spells, only the rats and wind are really useful for offensive players, while the weapons (bows, bombs, pistols and swords) are fairly ordinary. They're fun to use and very well implemented, that I cannot deny, but I do feel this is one area where Arkane could've really gone to town, and it's an opportunity sorely missed. Same goes with some of the stealth powers. Being able to do more with rewired machines or possessed characters could have really added some tactical depth to the ground-level action. To be fair though, the whole rat-summoning thing is one of the more disturbing and unique powers I've seen in a game, so there is at least that one horrifically nasty plaything. In any case, the conventional approach to the player's arsenal does little to undermine exactly how ambitious the rest of the game is. To truly appreciate Dishonored's campaign, it really should be played twice -- or at least have its mission replay menu utilized a few times. There's more than enough to experience that it's wholly worth playing both a high and low chaos campaign, and it's only when doing so that one gets a real appreciation for everything Dishonored can do. This is a game that set its sights high and tried to balance two distinct play styles. That it attempted this was noble, but that it succeeded so elegantly is inspiring. On the subject of replay, a note about length for those who find it of paramount importance -- you can blast through the campaign in about six hours, if you choose to do a simple kill-all run and don't bother finding items/performing optional tasks. A more realistic run will bring you up to around eight or ten hours, and could take even longer if you choose to go for the subtle ghost runs and nonlethal eliminations. Dishonored is that game of 2012. It's the big intellectual property that comes to retail and shows up the competition by being bold, original, and -- more importantly -- brilliant. Easily deserving of its place among the BioShocks and the Borderlandses, Arkane's aggressive, non-aggressive, unsubtle, sneaky, thoroughly versatile tale of intrigue makes for the kind of game that reminds us this generation isn't all straightforward shooters and "me too" trend-seekers. Its level design is some of the very best, its willingness to let the player decide their own path is exhilarating, and the satisfaction gleaned from a mission well done leaves one hungry for more. Some dated visuals and a conventional arsenal do little to hold back what a truly beautiful, multifaceted, and ultimately invigorating adventure Dishonored manages to be.
Dishonored photo
Honor before glory
It seems that once or twice a year we get some new intellectual property demolishing the idea that only sequels perform well, shaking up the market in some exciting way. Despite having no big franchise name attached, it catch...


Dishonored: The Hand that Feeds

Sep 26
// Fraser Brown
Bethesda and Arkane Studios have released the second part of their series of shorts, Tales from Dunwall, fleshing out the intriguing setting of Dishonored. Where the first short, "The Awakening", revealed the origins of an&n...

The freedom of Dishonored

Sep 13
// Fraser Brown
With Dishonored almost upon us, Arkane Studios have a third developer diary out which will no doubt cause you to salivate to such a degree that you drown, and are unable to play. How cruel. This one is all about choice, cons...

Latest Dishonored developer diary is all about immersion

Sep 12
// Brett Zeidler
Arkane Studios has pulled the curtain back once again on Dishonored through an always welcome developer diary, this time talking about immersion in the game. It starts out with the title's Visual Design Director, Viktor Anto...

Kill some rats in free iOS game Dishonored: Rat Assassin

Aug 31
// Allistair Pinsof
At long last, killing vermin in my rat infested storage unit I sleep in is going to pay off! Rat Assassin is kind of like Fruit Ninja instead you are slicing rats, not fruit -- the story of my life. If the idea nauseates you...

New video highlights the basics of stealth in Dishonored

Aug 23
// Jordan Devore
While quite a bit more straightforward than the recent "Creative Kills" trailer, this video highlights stealth gameplay, a major element of Dishonored. You'll be able to visualize enemies' lines of sight and, unless I'm mist...

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