Launching new IP can be a bit of a nightmare. It can also be very, very exciting.
We’ve seen plenty of strong new IP wow the critics but fail to make much of a dent on the market (Enslaved, Mirror’s Edge). But if there’s any justice in this world (and you lot are serious about wanting more in the way of new ideas) then Dishonored will fly off the shelves today.
Fundamentally, Dishonored is a stealth game. As with many modern games of this type, you’re free to strut your stuff and treat the title as a FPS-come-shooter action outing, but doing so is to do the game a massive disservice.
The opening hour, involving an escape from prison, would actually trick you into believing that you’re playing a quite conventional stealth affair – albeit with an immersive game world and fascinating art design.
But once you escape the confines of the opening setting and take your first steps into the game world, it becomes clear that Arkane’s adventure is something very special.
Part of this is thanks to the powers available for your character. Your go-to skill is Blink, which lets you zip almost instantaneously to any visible spot. This offers a fantastic way to get around the game world but also opens up a dazzling array of new opportunities.
And there are plenty more powers, too, including the chance to summon rats (who themselves are central to the game’s plot and theme) to literally devour opponents where they stand.
But arguably just as important is the fantastic world that Arkane has crafted. Although totally different to BioShock, it has that same quality of fascination. Although in many ways it’s not that dissimilar to the hundreds of other digital realms you’ve explored over the years, it has an unmistakable quality and character. When you’re playing Dishonored you know you’re playing Dishonored.
Those who get most from the game will be those who dare to think for themselves. There’s not much in the way of handholding to begin with, but it’s the scope for thinking outside of the box that really illustrates the depth of possibilities open to the player.
Multiple routes combine with an assortment of powers to ensure that most situations have an indeterminable number of “solutions”. Thinking on the fly is definitely a huge asset.
It’s great to see publishers like Bethesda daring to launch ambitious new IP at the end of the current cycle. In fact, it’s exactly what is needed to fight off the stagnation that has threatened to consume the market over the last 12-24 months.
If you value quality and new ideas and want to see more of both in the future, Dishonored is a game that you’d be very wise to invest in. It’s out in the Uk today (Friday October 12th).