Is Dishonored this year's Deus Ex?


Is Dishonored this year's Deus Ex?
Whale of a time!
I’ve been more than a mite vocal in my praise for Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution. But there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for that. It was a triumph of hybrid gameplay, considered aesthetics, adult themes, clever plotting, versatile mechanics, convincing worlds, husky voiced protagonists and whirling arm-blades.

That last one really sealed the deal.

Taking place in the first person perspective and selling itself on player-choice, Arkane Studios’ ambitious new project immediately strikes as reminiscent of Adam Jensen’s augmented adventures.

These similarities run deeper still.

Organ deep in fact, as Deus Ex alumnus and Dishonored co-creative director Harvey Smith sits at this project’s very heart. Thus varying play styles (stealth, exploration, social manipulation, hacking plus “muskets at dawn, bitch” gunplay) have become a cornerstone of Dishonored’s appeal.

Co-co-creative director Raf Colantonio has another pillar covered, advising VG247 to “Look at the games that don't give you a choice, the ones that ask you to just kill everyone in a variety of ways... But when you look at the games that give you choice, the fact that there is a possibility not to kill makes killing that little bit more impactful in this case, because you have made the choice to kill. Death has more weight."

So Dishonored offers players the freedom to tackle each level, mission and scenario as they see fit. They can employ snooze darts and sleeper holds, or make with the giddy evisceration.

Sound familiar to you, Jensen?
[Goateed cyborg grumbles affirmation. Sounds intimidating.]
[Goateed cyborg grumbles affirmation. Sounds intimidating.]Enlarge Enlarge

Similarities can be spied elsewhere. Dishonored revels in its own unique design. A far cry from the black and gold geometries of Human Revolution, Bethesda’s new assassin-em-up boasts cell shaded caricatures in a the Victorian, steam-punk city of Dunwall, inspired by early 1900s London/Edinburgh.
You won’t find a lazy New York clone here.

Like the hub worlds of Detroit, Hengsha, Montreal and Panchea, Dishonored isn’t a single sandbox but offers players a series of expansive levels to climb, explore and investigate. Side missions and asides open up as Dunwall’s citizenry rock up with cryptic messages or open requests.

As framed supernatural bodyguard Corvo, players are tasked with smoothing everything over with the point of their blade, the barrel of their pistol, the poisoned tip of their darts or the lashing whip of rumour, innuendo and subtle forms of social manipulation.

Corvo will be called upon to match wits as frequently as blades. The occasional touch of Frost or Columbo impersonation is needed to unravel certain mysteries. Dunwall’s inhabitants, alike the augmented populous of HumanRevolution are not immune to the implications of you staunch detective work, prone to opening up further narrative strands or flying off the handle and completing your assassination for you.

In Dishonored, people are like turrets, in that they can be hacked overtly too.

Corvo’s arsenal and wealth of abilities both super and otherwise echo those of the Sarif Industries security chief. Dishonored’s Dark Vision mirrors Jensen’s ocular augmentations while the ability to teleport, slow time and possess living things aids infiltration. And while DX:HR’s protagonist employed the TYPHOON ballistic system, Corvo himself can summon hurricane gusts (or swarming rats) when the time comes to hurl subtlety to the winds!

With an emphasis on combining supernatural powers to dramatic effect, employing gruesome traps and gutting foes on lengths of tapered steel, Corvo and Jensen have a lot in common.

Except for one key, aural point...

Corvo seems to be a mute. Echoing the silent protagonists of obvious inspirations Half Life and Bioshock, this immersion shattering oversight looks to be the only aspect of Dishonored working to its detriment.
Perhaps the legendary assassin’s throaty vocals have yet to be unveiled. But with so many gameplay videos floating about it’s unlikely.

Arguably the lynchpin of Human Revolution’s success was the gruff, husky tones of contemplative, tortured, balls-to-the-wall bionic ninja Adam Jensen. Without a central personality this memorable, Dishonored will have to fall back on its gorgeous visuals, imaginative design, creative gameplay and addictive challenges.

We think it’ll manage.

Is Dishonored this year`s Deus Ex? on
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