Dishonored has drawn quite a few comparisons to BioShock since its reveal, and the demo of a mission set at a party may not dissuade those associations. Even with the use of powers akin to plasmids and the first-person perspective, the party included guests wearing stylized masks, much like the splicers that inhabit Rapture. Thankfully for Bethesda’s upcoming offering, there is more than a sizable difference that creates a unique and exciting experience, which left me wanting to explore more of this new world.
The Boyles are hosting a party at their mansion, and though you’re not invited, it is your mission to infiltrate the affair and assassinate one of the Boyle sisters. Unfortunately, the costume party prevents you from knowing who is who, and players must take one of countless methods to stalking and eliminating their prey. Through a mixture of stealth and all-out mayhem, I managed to complete the mission while discovering other paths I could have taken.
The interior of the party presents a world quite separate from the outside. A drab, militaristic exterior gave way to a lavish and excessive scene of warm colors, gaudy decorations and a labyrinth of rooms and hallways. I found my way in by picking up a dropped invitation, but during my exploration of the location I found a sewer system by which I also could have accessed the party.
Once inside, I began to make my way, room by room, hoping to find some semblance of what to do, and slowly the mystery began to unravel. A journal here, an overhead conversation there – everything combined to develop a proper picture of my target. My most successful venture was sneaking up to the guarded second floor. By summoning an infestation of rats, I distracted a few guards and slipped through their defenses with ease.
I used several of my other powers, including the consistently impressive mind-control ability to make my way around the second floor’s protectors. A small skirmish occurred, in which I depleted much of my gun and crossbow ammunition. Yet this battle was to my advantage, as the three Boyle sisters all scampered to a single bedroom, making it easy to find my target. A note on a bedside table informed me that my intended sister would be wearing red, and with a quick stab, I completed my task. I believed myself free and was prepared to make a run for it.
Unfortunately, my previous battle and this murder alerted the guards to my presence, and I found the way out a much more difficult challenge. Only the Blink ability (a short teleportation skill that will always recharge) allowed me to maneuver around a wine cellar, through a kitchen and into the main level. Unfortunately, I was susceptible to nearly every attack and found myself dying multiple times as I attempted an escape with any finesse.
So, though it was probably not the intended path, I made a mad dash for the exit, taking gunfire periodically but evading death through the house and courtyard. I jumped into the nearby river, avoided several vicious piranhas and found my escape boat. It was hectic, difficult and made me want to play it all over again. As I said, I found hints of the many possibilities the level allowed and I was thrilled to partake in so much of it. Sneaking into the party proved tough from the start. I took control of a giant sentry guard to make my way to the entrance, but found myself curious of a nearby building that appeared deserted from the outside. Inside, I discovered several vagrants who were quick to attack me, and unfortunately only a few scattered items served as my prize.
While at the party I could have found a way to deactivate the electrified fence of the main staircase, or avoided stealth altogether and fought my way through the security. Though a self-contained mission, I came away fascinated by the plethora of options presented to me in this scenario. If the rest of the game can maintain this level of freedom, expect to play Dishonored multiple times before fatigue sets in.
It’s difficult to say if this mechanic will work for the entire game, but this impressive looking and, most importantly, fun to play encapsulation of what the entire title is striving to achieve promises for an enthralling adventure in quite the impressive world.