Dishonored hands-on preview: The "Lady Boyle's Last Party Mission"
Man, Dishonored's taking on the kind of vibe I haven't experienced in a first-person game since the days of Bioshock. The sheer atmosphere that the game carries is absolutely staggering – not to mention original – but it's more than just a romp through a strange new world. There's actually objectives to complete here, along with abilities that change the course of what you're capable of when it comes to getting your revenge. It's really one of the bigger fall releases that I'm looking forward to, filled with illustrious surprises – even when I know everything that I'm capable of.
My excitment for the game was prompted by a hands-on session with the game at PAX Prime, where Bethesda introduced us to a new stage, the "Lady Boyle's Last Party Mission", tasking players with infiltrating a manor in the hopes of finding a female assassination target. This is hardly an easy task, as you're basically infiltrating a huge mansion with guests galore, and everyone's in costume. However, using your skills, as well as questioning some certain people, will help you narrow down your search for the target.
Just to get an idea of what the demo had to offered, I played through the stage twice. The first time, I decided to take the "hard" route to the manor. Instead of being all sneaky-like, I decided to move to the upper ground through a staircase on the other side of the canal, then work our way past some walkers and soldiers (using the Time Bend ability, primarily) before reaching the party.
The second route I tried involved the use of Possession, where I was able to jump into the form of a nearby fish and swim our way through a couple of sewer grates, before eventually reaching a small basement that ties in with the mansion that's up above.
From there, I was able to easily blend into the party with the other guests, since the game's main character, Corvo, wears a mask that hides his true identity from guards. Though some parts of the mansion were closed off (by electrical gates – ouch), I was still able to maneuver through a number of rooms, interacting with folks. Some weren't really much on speaking terms, while others provided a heaping amount of information about our target, eventually giving me an idea about which of the three potential women needed taking out.
From there, things got quite interesting in the mission, giving players a choice as to how to proceed. You could easily slice the target's neck open in public and then try to make an explosive getaway out the front door; lure her into a silent, closed off room and carefully dispatch of her, then hide her body so that the other guests don't take notice; or take up the offer of her beloved, (who's also at the party) offering to whisk her away, without a trace, so they can be together.
For the first run-through of our mission, I opted to let her go on her way with her beloved, but it was kind of a dull way to end the mission. For the second attempt, I was much more violent, opting to slice her throat and leave her for dead in the study, then killing a few guards on my way back down to the basement. Then when I ran into her lover, I decided to do him in by firing an incendiary arrow, lighting him aflame and watching him stumble. Job well done, I suppose.
It's this depth of gameplay that really makes Dishonored stand out. Sure, there are some parts that take a bit to get going (mainly with the "interviewing" sections), but it all ties together into a wondrous experience that'll be unlike most other games you play this fall. Look for our full review coverage of Dishonored when it hits stores next month for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Look for our full review coverage of Dishonored when it hits stores next month for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.