Dark’n'Ion Stormy: Arkane’s Dishonored

By Alec Meer on July 7th, 2011 at 3:28 pm.

Strider!

New IPs? Nah, we don’t do that anymore, sunshine. Too risky, see. People only want to buy things they’ve already heard of. Or is it that publishers are only prepared to invest enormous marketing budgets in what they consider surefire hits already, thereby damning their less-established names to relative obscurity even before they make it out the starting gate? I forget. Bethesda’s one of few big publishers still prepared to take a risk. Granted, Hunted was a bit of a misfire and Brink didn’t quite scale the heights we were hoping, but that makes it doubly pleasing that Beth are continuing to push new names.

Just as excitingly, this is the highly mysterious new game from Arkane -they of Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Bonus – they recruited Deus Ex veteran Harvey Smith as co-creative director. Bonus bonus: they also recruited the visual architect of Half-Life 2′s City 17, Viktor Antonov. It’s called Dishonored. We barely know anything at all about it. We’re really very excited.

The game’s detailed in the next issue of de facto exclusive-grabber GameInformer, but they’ve put out the cover and the broadest overview for us to thrill to in the meantime:

“It’s a game about assassination where you don’t have to kill anyone. It’s a game about infiltration where you can set up traps and slaughter the entire garrison of an aristocrat’s mansion rather than sneak in. It’s a game about brutal violence where you can slip in and out of a fortified barracks with nobody ever knowing you were there. It’s a game about morality and player choice where the world you create is based on your actions, not navigating conversation trees.”

It sounds like Thief and Hitman and Deus Ex and STALKER and none of them. It looks like Half-Life 2 (quite a lot, in fact) and BioShock and 1984 and none of them.

It’s a game, in a year in which we’ve so far only been told to be excited about things we already know pretty much what to expect from, to be excited about.

It’s called Dishonored, it’s due on PC and playboxes next year, and it’s going to be a real pain in the arse for any games journalist with their word processor set to British English.

Seems like a good time to revisit our interview with Harvey Smith and Arkane founder Raf Colantonio about the legacy of Deus Ex from last year, and pore over it for clues…

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92 Comments »

  1. Wilson says:

    Sounds interesting. Now we just have to wait and see how much of that makes it into the game, and in what form.

  2. Premium User Badge

    MonkeyMonster says:

    Well color me aluminum “It’s called Dishonored, and it’s going to be a real pain in the arse for any games journalist with their word processor set to British English.” Chuckle. I can imagine the potty mouth trash talk when that reared its head :D

    • imirk says:

      This way they don’t have to put “Made in USA” on the box.

    • PopeJamal says:

      LOL, proof that God hates the color of your superfluous U’s? I think so.

    • roryok says:

      superfluous i’s surely…

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      lurkalisk says:

      It would be a rather poor decision to choose the British spelling when their biggest market, by far, will be the US. I couldn’t care less either way, but it’s more than understandable.

  3. CMaster says:

    Yay, it sounds like maybe the second time ever that somebody has tried to make a Deus Ex game without it literally being Deus Ex.

    • roryok says:

      Call me stupid, what’s the other time?

    • Phasma Felis says:

      I understand Snowblind was set in not-Deus-Ex-land. It’s got the whole nano-augments thing, but it’s a straightforward FPS, none of your inventory management and “RPG elements”.

  4. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    OMFG!

  5. simoroth says:

    I have high hopes for this, but even if it fails/turns out crap Beths should be applauded for pushing new IP’s and not reboots. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfSqsY6zxFU

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    symuun says:

    Yes please!

  7. Nighthood says:

    Tentatively excited.

    Dark Messiah was one of the best physical combat games I’ve ever played, though it was a bit lacking in story and art. I’m interested to see how this’ll turn out.

  8. mjig says:

    Looks like the Citadel from HL2. Wasn’t surprising when you said the city designer is working on it. Arx Fatalis and DMMM are two of the most underrated games of all time in my opinion, so this is exciting.

    • Donjonson says:

      Yeah, it looks like it could be concept art for HL2.. luckily it’s a crockery and culinary simulator, that should distinguish it from it’s forbearers.

    • soldant says:

      My thoughts as well. I liked the original concept art for the Citadel and C17. The final iteration just looks too bright for my liking.

  9. LordCiego says:

    Would like to know how much of “The Crossing” remains in this. Source engine surely not.

  10. Tori says:

    Oh, this reminds me, what happened to that other game where Viktor Antonov was hired for? The Crossing? Something like that…

  11. Srekel says:

    Why not a “Dishonored” tag?

    Sounds very cool though!

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      Wisq says:

      Because it’s not a word. ;)

      Seriously, though, I hope they do actually release it with the correct local spelling in the rest of the world.

      There was a time when we could call a game “UFO” in one country and “X-COM” in another (albeit for different reasons). Some games still do it, usually with even weirder cross-region name changes. Surely adding a single “u” to avoid making it look like you can’t spell would be okay.

    • Rii says:

      @Wisq

      I disagree: it’s a proper noun and should be rendered as Dishonored regardless of which English-speaking nation one resides in. Only when translation into another language is required should it be altered. Same as Pearl Harbor.

    • roryok says:

      Widely known obscure fact: the Hungarian title for the film Alien was The 8th Passenger is Death

  12. Jams O'Donnell says:

    British journalists, and other journalists who can spell, should call it “Dishonouured” in protest.

  13. Vexing Vision says:

    I love Arx Fatalis. I love Deus Ex.

    I’m sold. I don’t need to know anything else. Where can I preorder, and will it have GFWL?

    • somini says:

      Bethesda, so Steamworks most likely.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      That’s an excellent point, somini, and one that makes me happy.

    • suibhne says:

      Are you still excited, knowing that Harvey Smith was lead on Deus Ex 2: Invisible War? ;)

    • Vexing Vision says:

      Yep. Deus Ex 2 wasn’t a bad game on it’s own. It’s failure was the Deus Ex-tag. Calling it Invisible War on its own and screw the Deus Ex association, and it would have been a really good selling game.

      Anyway. I want to play Arx Fatalis again now. *checks on GOG*

    • Chris Remo says:

      Are you still excited, knowing that Harvey Smith was the lead on Deus Ex 1? ;)

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    tomeoftom says:

    YES. aaaaaaaAAAAAAYES!

    YES!

    Antonov is incredible, and you just know they’re going to use his genius to the fullest – the bottomless crypts in Dark Messiah? They actually made the crypt level fun. Incredible, even. These guys obviously respect and love good architecture, and I am so, so pumped. That’s without even beginning to consider the promise of the premise.

    YES.

  15. Theory says:

    That cover has “pre-rewrite City 17″ written all over it. The ground vehicle is the Combine APC with chunks taken out of it, the oblong thing with an orange stripe could easily be the cousin of the razortrain, and the first thing I thought of when I saw the mask was Civil Protection.

    This is the complete opposite of criticism, by the way. HL2 is great, Arx/Dark Messiah are great, Deus Ex is great. A combination of all three is going to be nirvana. :-)

    • sub-program 32 says:

      I myself would very much like to be given Deux Ex-levels of freedom and exploration within City 17. Even if it technically isn’t.

    • Lukasz says:

      a steak is great
      strawberry icecream is great
      bendy straw is great

      but you don’t want to eat a steak mixed with strawberry icecreams through a bendy straw?

    • Theory says:

      Someone call Heston!

    • Koozer says:

      I would eat beef flavoured ice cream.

    • MaxwellKraft says:

      But all those are vastly different. This is more like combining turkey, duck, and chicken. Steak-ice cream through a straw would be like a SpaceChem/RollerCoaster Tycoon/Quake hybrid.

  16. Wulf says:

    First thought: “Egad, that thing on the right looks a lot like Daniel Dociu’s charr chopper. I suppose that immediately makes it awesome.”

    And it is a very nice art style they have going on there, very nice indeed.

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      tomeoftom says:

      Dociu can be a total monster.

    • John P says:

      The thing on the right looks more like a close-up of a helmet/mask to me. Isn’t that a purpleish hand holding it?

    • Davie says:

      I wonder if Valve can get him to work on the nebulous next Half-Life installment? I’d never realized how much his style fit perfectly with that universe. And he is AWESOME.

    • Wulf says:

      I had not noticed the hand. I blame a mix of bad sight and the text obscuring it. I thought it was some sort of creepy cyberpunk face-tank.

      Now I want it to be some sort of creepy cyberpunk face-tank and not just a helmet.

    • Nick says:

      charr chopper looks like a space marine helmet crossed with a propellor hat

  17. Dominus says:

    “hmmm.. noise stopped, mush have been rats”

  18. Lobotomist says:

    What you said about risk of new IP’s

    When will they realise that its not new IPs that people hesitate to buy. Its bad games.

    Brink and Hunted were both highly anticipated. But they both failed (relatively) because of poor execution.
    Not because they were new IP

    Granted though that if you have well known IP you can make pile of shit (Duke Nukem, MW2) and still sell truckload. But it is not sure shot either.

  19. Rii says:

    Oh my.

  20. Teddy Leach says:

    Do want. Do want. Do want.

  21. ATwig says:

    I love assassinating people with out killing anyone!

    Also setting up traps and slaughtering people is one of my favorite past times (Dwarf Fortress anyone?)

    • Rond says:

      Maybe Dishonored will allow you to become a journalist, and assassinate peoples’ reputations in your articles. Now that would be something new.

    • N'Al says:

      Become a journalist, hack phones, join LulzSec.

      Yeah, I’d buy that game.

  22. Squeeby says:

    *crosses fingers*
    Please don’t turn into another manshoot…
    Please don’t turn into another manshoot…

  23. Bodminzer says:

    Dark Messiah was fucking wicked and had great looking environments. This looks incredible. Games finally ARE their concept art and everythings wonderfu la nd blrglblr blrblr brrrr *soft click and record hiss*

  24. Rond says:

    Both Arx and Dark Messiah were games of immersive sort, and that’s what we really need for a Deus-Exy game. And if its visual style will be similar to HL2′s, well, it’s even more interesting.

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    mcnostril says:

    Fingers crossed for a futuristic Arx.

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    lowprices says:

    Well, I’m interested. Mostly because of the prescence of Arkane and HL2′s Art Director. I love Dark Messiah, and hope that, even though this is a stealth game, there will be the opportunity to kick people off of rooftops, or into fires, or each other.

    The involvement of a Deus Ex alumni excites me less, as I never played Deus Ex all the way through. (I know, I know. Blasphemy, Burn the Witch etc. I only bought it recently and the combat and stealth were too imprecise and focused on invisible dice rolls for my tastes.)

    I was thinking of skipping straight to Invisible War, since I’ve heard that one is much better.

    • Flint says:

      In which bizarro world is Invisible War described as “much better”?

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      lowprices says:

      Really? I heard everyone loved the way they cut back the rpg elements and reduced the size of the levels and…

      Alright, alright. Enough trolling.

  27. ArcaneSaint says:

    “It looks like Half-Life 2 (quite a lot, in fact)”
    Which could be expected as they hired HL2′s visual architect (or one of them, atleast).
    Or perhaps.. this is actually… Half-Life 3! (or Episode 3, or Half-Life 2.5 episode π)

  28. Wizlah says:

    From that interview with the arkane fellas that rps did:

    “Why do we like standing on a hill or on top of a skyscraper in some games, watching the sun rise? Why is it satisfying to see a ruined building in the distance, reach it, find a way inside and explore the rooms…to figure out who lived there and what happened based on the environmental storytelling clues left behind? First-person games that allow for exploration often provide the childhood thrill that came from sneaking into an abandoned house or a building at the edge of town.”

    So, yeah, I trust them to do something interesting and compelling. Cool. I can’t wait.

  29. Lucas Says says:

    So a reputable developer took Half Life 2 and mixed it with Deus Ex. And Bethesda’s publishing. Who do I give my money to?

    Good on Bethesda for taking chances. It makes me want to go out and buy Hunted in solidarity. We shall overcome.

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    El_MUERkO says:

    New IP as detailed = “Woo” and “Yay”

    Playboxes supported = “Awe” and “Boo”

    Current excitement rating = “Hurrah”

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    HermitUK says:

    Intriguing. I was hoping their next project would be a glorious hybrid of Arx’s world and gameplay with Dark Messiah’s combat, but this sounds interesting too.

  32. lunegov says:

    Antonov repeats himself. I thought he’s tougher.

  33. John P says:

    This is instantly my most anticipated game. I’m totally on board with the design principles espoused by these developers. Can’t wait.

  34. Ricc says:

    “It sounds like Thief and Hitman and Deus Ex and STALKER and none of them. It looks like Half-Life 2 (quite a lot, in fact) and BioShock and 1984 and none of them.”

    I love this paragraph so much! Couldn’t be more excited. No year for the release date makes me sad, though. :/

  35. CaspianRoach says:

    Good. now let’s hope playboxes won’t ruin the controls.

  36. Acosta says:

    Can anyone tell those barbarians that they have written wrong “dishonoured”?

  37. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    Okay, I’m really, really, really fucking excited. This is now my most anticipated game right after Deus Ex: Human Revolution. For the love of basic human decency, I hope this doesn’t get fucked up; suffer from a woeful lack of polish, be infested with bugs or fail to sell well enough to establish a new ‘immersive simulator’ franchise.

  38. Dreamhacker says:

    After Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah, pretty much any box with the Arkane logo on it is an instabuy for me. Those guys can make atmospheres and architecture on a whole nother level.

  39. The Hammer says:

    Hmmm. Judging from the cover, it’s looking a bit too much like City 17 for my liking; striders, civil protection, Combine APCs, and the sci-fi/contemporary domestic mash-up are all present. Not that I don’t like Half Life 2′s setting (on the contrary I adore it), but if the rest of the game looks like this, it’ll feel too like deja vu for me.

    That, and Dark Messiah made a loaaaaad of design mistakes. Is Arkane good enough to live up to the expectations this is bound to court? It could end up like another Bioshock, if so (decent in its own right, but a far, far different beast to what was initially touted)

  40. Tuco says:

    So… a Deus Ex/Thief with a cyberpunk setting similar to City 17, from the creators of Arx fatalis.
    All aboard the fucking hypewagon!

  41. suibhne says:

    With both Arx and Dark Messiah, Arkane have shown themselves to be highly skilled at level/world design. I particularly love the way DM’s levels link together and/or visually refer to one another. Sure, there’s a lot of linearity going on in the game, but the level design is so wonderful that it hides many of the gameplay problems. I imagine Antonov’s addition to the project will only strengthen Arkane’s skills in this area.

    I’m more concerned about gameplay. Harvey Smith gave us DX:IW, for which he was the lead, and I’m not sure that’s the right way to go. And DM had some gameplay issues and even more problems with narrative framing and storytelling.

    So…cautiously optimistic. But either way, I’m sure the game will be a joy to explore.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      It’s true that Harvey is fighting an uphill battle after his last couple games. (Except maybe Deadly Shadows, which was flawed compared to the first two games, but still really good.)

      Listening to him talk about Invisible War and admit that mistakes were made makes me a little less wary, but I’m still not sold on this the way I would be if it had, say, Doug Church’s name on it instead.
      I think it’s somewhere in this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTWvsGA77T4

      That said, the tidbits about this sound great IF they can pull it off.

  42. Wulf says:

    Also…

    “It’s a game about assassination where you don’t have to kill anyone.”

    SOLD!

    Can we have more games like that please?

  43. Vadermath says:

    Err, so we’ve got the Combine Train, the Combine City Scanner, the Portal turret, and the Combine Car. Oh and the gigantic Stalker. Well, at least those rat-like things weren’t in the Half Life universe.

    …Or Were They?!

  44. RagingLion says:

    Well this makes me sit up and take an interest.

  45. JulianPierce says:

    Harvey Smith is a guy who likes to talk and appears to have good ideas but always fails at execution. He has a very bad track record. It truly confuzzles me why he is held in such high regard.

    • John P says:

      DX:IW failed in its execution, yes, but the design principles were admirable. Perhaps people are excited because Harvey Smith seems to understand the strengths of gaming as a medium and isn’t interested in making a Call of Duty railshooter or an romance simulator RPG? Even if it does fail at execution, it’ll be worth more than a highly-polished but utterly vacuous shooter.

  46. Jason Moyer says:

    Arkane are 2 for 2 with me when it comes to making great games. Less interested in seeing Harvey involved but we’ll see how that pans out.

    Also, did anyone else actually play Hunted? I went into it without any sort of expectations, and ended up being pleasantly surprised that it was Gears of Hexen.

  47. Iskariot says:

    Well, this sounds very promising. It sounds exactly like a game I might like very much. I’ll be patient.
    A lot of games to play Deus Ex 3, Batman AC, Prototype 2, LA Noir, Mass Effect 3, The new Lara Croft, Assassin’s Creed Rev., Skyrim, Rage etc etc etc.
    I think I will be forced to quit my job to play all these promising games.

  48. Handsome Dead says:

    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee