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It warms my disease-ridden, whale-oil tainted heart to hear that the wonderful Dishonored was a financial success for its publisher Bethesda. In this age of sequels and iron-sights, games this original, smart and flat-out good don't come around that often.
As quoted by Destructoid, Bethesda PR boss Pete Hines said of the game's success, "We're very pleased and appreciate all the fans that have supported Dishonored and Arkane. We clearly have a new franchise."
Of course, it's always a bit strange to see a gameworld that could've existed as a one-off be spun out into a series of games. As I played Dishonored, I grew genuinely interested in the islands beyond Dunwall, and the world that Arkane had created. But on the flip side, I also enjoyed the weirdly romantic notion of a world that we get to see once, and never again. A small taste that leaves the rest to our imaginations.
My ambivalence echoes Dishonored designer Harvey Smith, who told Jason earlier this fall, "Part of me would love to see future games leverage this world, and part of me would love it if the vault door was just closed and that's it. This is your one view into the Empire of the Isles and into the city of Dunwall."
But who am I kidding? If a game is amazing and makes a lot of money, it'll get a sequel. As good as Dishonored was, there are certainly things that can be improved in a second game. I can only replay the first one so many times. And judging by how these things tend to go, the series will make it at least until the third or fourth game before they turn the whole thing into a cover-based shooter.
(Just kidding. I hope.)
Bethesda: Dishonored sales 'exceeding expectations' [Destructoid]
You know how you can play Dishonored either violently or stealthily? I tended to opt for stealth, even though I liked how fun the game was when things got action-packed.
But I have never, ever seen someone take on the game with the kind of violent aplomb shown by kekkoSoNicSyNdIcAtE in the video above. Dude takes out 25 enemies without breaking a sweat, often in the sickest, most elaborate ways possible. It's a real stress-test of Dishonored's design that this kind of thing is possible. Amazing.
(Via Tom Francis)
"Regent", a painting by artist Sergey Kolesov, was a winner at this year's Into the Pixel, an annual competition which "brings together experts from the traditional fine art world and the interactive entertainment industry to display and discuss the art of the video game".
It's from Dishonored, and we've featured it here before as part of a larger gallery on the game, but today we're going to be looking just at Kolesov's work. Because it's terrific.
A former freelancer, who recently kicked around a few ideas for a movie project with Half-Life 2 creative director Viktor Antonov, he now works at Vatra Games Studio in the Czech Republic.
You can see more of Sergey's work at his personal site.
To see the larger pics in all their glory (or, if they're big enough, so you can save them as wallpaper), right-click on them below and select "open in new tab".
I loved Dishonored's dank, diseased city of Dunwall. It felt so fully realized, and had so much character. A lot of that came from the food. Like Bioshock before it, most of Dishonored's characters leave food lying around. As the protagonist Corvo meanders from room to room, he'll often take stabbing-breaks to eat everything that's not nailed down.
Most of the food in the game is pretty gross—jellied eels! ew!—but there was one thing that, every time I found one laying around, I'd eat in a heartbeat: The delicious-sounding apricot tartlet.
The folks over at Gourmet Gaming have, in their inimitable style, posted a recipe for recreating the tartlets from the game. If you've got the culinary chops, you too can make a bunch of these, then leave them lying around your property to nourish any mask-wearing assassins who may sneak by.
Eat? Don't mind if I do.
Dishonored - Apricot Tartlet [Gourmet Gaming]
Everyone is asleep. The streets are empty. It's peaceful to not have anyone around. I can focus. It's kind of like a power fantasy, actually. The world is at once both mine to take and yet beyond me—a not tameable entity whose machinations do not care for, and sometimes defy the going-ons of people. The world keeps spinning whether you're awake or not.
The world also keeps going whether you're alive or not. While playing as a Pomeranian that travels post-apocalyptic Tokyo to kill and eat animals in an effort to stay alive isn't as calming as the velvet of the night, there's still an air of peacefulness that comes with it.
The reasons are ones that I think Hayao Miyazaki, who is behind popular films like Spirited Away and Ponyo, would be enthusiastic about. Noted by academics for his disdain of digital things, a New Yorker profile once quoted him saying that he looked "forward to the time when Tokyo is submerged by the ocean and the NTV tower becomes an island, when the human population plummets and there are no more high-rises." Kind of extreme! Unsurprisingly a good deal of his work was in love with the idea of a Japan that was more in-tune with nature and the spiritual world ruled by Shintoism, Yokai and Kami.
World War 2 changed everything according to Miyazaki—with it came the creation of a consumerist society that destroyed the environment. He didn't like that. An article by the Japanese Times quotes him saying, "I was frustrated because nature - the mountains and rivers - was being destroyed in the name of economic progress." The book 'Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke' also quotes him saying that, "People changed their value system from Gods to money." The people of Japan had lost their way, and the only way things could be remedied was if humanity disappeared altogether.
And what we have in Tokyo Jungle is similar to the world that Miyazaki might've envisioned...if it wasn't likely that he hates video games. No spirits in Tokyo Jungle, but definitely a sense that nature rules supreme. Seen in light of the animator's criticisms of society, it's easy to pinpoint why something like Tokyo Jungle feels calming, almost necessary: gone are the pesky, annoying humans who didn't value the right things. In their place exists not a more ruthless reality of kill or be killed—as one might initially think when looking at Tokyo Jungle—but rather an ecosystem whose participants are well aware of their role in nature. Everything in its right place.
Maybe that sounds nihilistic, but in reality I don't see Tokyo Jungle's premise shying too far away from the type of world that most games present us. Where game spaces might feature well-designed architecture, well-written history, or a game might feature well-designed mechanics, people still feel absent fairly regularly.
Recently Simon Parkin similarly criticized Halo 4 in a review over at Eurogamer for its lack of people:
"But while this one-man army has renewed purpose and a new crisis to tackle, that lack of humanity is hidden in plain sight. For a game so focused on saving the universe, the Halo series is curiously devoid of people to save. It's filled with others to destroy, of course...
It's a universe filled with weapons, more weapons than ever before, the Prometheans adding their armoury of esoteric rifles and machine guns to the already enormous array of killing tools. But people to save? You won't find many of those here."
While I've not played Halo 4, I've felt similarly recently while playing Dishonored—which technically does have people, but hear me out. The game takes place in an Victorian setting based off 1800's London, with a plague decimating a city built to be surprisingly accommodating to a sneaky assassin. So much effort was put into building that city, building a world that fascinates with its politics and history, ultimately leaving you wondering about its society.
But where are most of the people to ground all of that? Why are the people so far out of the frame unless someone needs to be killed or avoided, why am I working so hard to save a city that is basically dead? What in the world is everyone fighting over?
There was a moment in one of the missions in Dishonored, where I endeavored to climb to the highest peak of the level. The streets were largely empty and quiet in this part of town, the only audible thing was the beating of the heart I held in my hands. The vibe was right for climbing crazy high, I decided.
As Corvo landed his final blink, all I could feel was a thrill. Not so much of reaching my summit, but instead of conquering the night, of conquering my skills. A sense of control that came with doing whatever I wanted: the city was mine. But as I looked around from above, everything under me looked empty and unpopulated.
I thought about the kingdom under the tyranny of the lord regent, I thought of the great whale beasts that we killed to fuel our everyday conveniences—both things that I never really got to see in the game. I'm more acquainted with the rats of Dunwall, with the books of Dunwall than its actual everyday citizens.
Instead what we have are thugs, the military, the aristocracy, the weepers and a very small surviving population that I barely got to know—possibly due to the plague and because the point of Dishonored isn't the characterization, rather how we go about eliminating our targets. But what is a city without the everyday people? The thrill disappeared, and in its stead came this overwhelming feeling of destitution.
The thing about insomnia is, once I snap out of the dark spell of the night, once I look past the romanticism of having no people around, I don't feel idealistic or empowered about it anymore. I just feel lonely.
Thought of some empty games or cities while you read this? Share some pictures in the comments!
A dance party with corpses?! Corpses that I made?! Sign me up!
The guys are RoosterTeeth have outdone themselves yet again. *slow clap*
Maybe you've already finished Arkane Studios' critically acclaimed stealth/action hybrid. Maybe you yearn for more blinking, possession and sneaky killing through Dunwall's cobblestone streets. This December, you'll get your wish as challenge-based and story-centric DLC starts rolling out for Dishonored.
Dunwall City Trials—which will cost $4.99 or 400 Microsoft points—will offer up ten skill-centered tests where you'll be made to battles waves of enemies in arenas, perform drop assassinations and run through point-to-point races as fast as you can.
The other DLC will hit in 2013, but don't have prices attached yet. They'll focus on story including one that lets you play as a major character from Dishonored: (Mild spoilers for those who haven't finished the game)
Daud, the leader of a group of supernatural assassins known as ‘The Whalers', will be the focus of the second add-on pack, scheduled for release in early Spring 2013. Make your way through new Dunwall locales and discover Daud's own set of weapons, powers and gadgets in this story-driven campaign. How you play and the choices you make will impact the final outcome…
There's no question that Dishonored has great art. But in addition to Viktor Antonov's wonderful visual design direction and Sebastien Mitton's art direction, the game also has a lot of great art. As in, there are some really cool paintings in the game? Okay, you get it.
Bethesda has pulled together shots of all (I think?) of Anton Sokolov's collectable paintings from the game. These are sorta-spoilers, technically, since some of them are characters that turn up a little later on, but then again, as spoilery things go, they're… kind of just cool paintings of people. The paintings were done by real-world artist Cedric Peyravernay.
Have you found all of these in the game? I've only found a couple, mostly because the heart doesn't highlight them on my screen when I ask her. And if the heart don't point to it, Kirk don't go collect it. Maybe I should reconsider that approach…
Dishonored Sololov Paintings [Tumblr]
Having got the fancy ending for Dishonored, I thought I had some skills. Turns out my only skills were patience and cowardice. The way Flakked gets things done in this video shows me that my second, more violent playthrough might be a lot more interesting.
That slide near the end is the stuff of highlight reels.
Dishonored - Spring Razors and Messin' With Guards [YouTube, via PC Gamer]
As Kirk and Jason noted last week, Dishonored is in many ways an "old-timey" classic, but there's more to that idea than just its design. Because it's a singleplayer game, with no ladderboards or auction houses, you can install "trainers" for the game that let you cheat.
In the clip above, you'll see just what you can do when you have unlimited blink, super speed and a pistol that acts more like a machine gun.
As PC Gamer notes, the places you get such programs that enable these abilities can be a little shady, so we're not going to link them here. But if you know what these things are, you probably know where to get one.
Also, mild spoiler warning above, since it's a runthrough of the game's first mission.