CS3247 Game Development Assignment 1 – Option 1
Dishonoured is a first person, stealth, action adventure video game released by Arkane Studios, and is ranked among top games made in 2012. The game is set in the fictional, industrial city of Dunwall, where a new regime rises to power after the assassination of The Empress and the kidnapping of The Princess. Players follow the story of Corvo Attano, who, originally the personal bodyguard of The Empress, is framed for her assassination. Forced into becoming an assassin for the Loyalists, he then seeks to clear his name and restore The Princess to power from the grasp of the rebels.
Dishonoured is a game I greatly enjoyed, and lavished hours upon hours on. The following will attempt to analyse the factors that made this game such an appealing piece not just for me, but for so many around the world.
- The Lens of Freedom
The appeal of Dishonoured lies significantly in the freedom it gives its players. Players are able to choose from a pool of multi-purpose abilities and gadgets for Corvo to use, effectively allowing players to customise Corvo to their unique play style as they choose. Unlike many games where levels are designed such that level progression is practically linear, the developers even made it so that the levels are designed to accommodate for the use of those multi-purpose abilities and gadgets. Provisions are made so that skills such as “Blink” (teleportation to a location a short distance away) can be used effectively in most parts of the stages, should the player choose to do so.
Additionally, players can choose how they will achieve the primary objectives. For example, in infiltrating a building, there isn’t only that one air vent, or that unlocked balcony door. All these are available as access points, along with the main door, or perhaps even a sewer entrance. And as the player explores the stage, players uncover different ways of achieving that end goal of “assassinating” key targets. Further, following from the last point, players are also given the freedom to craft their own brand of vengeance against the conspirators who framed Corvo. Whether they choose to create a bloodbath by rampaging through the stage, or to simply sneak in quietly and take out the target, or perhaps to even decide to spare the target, all these are available as options for the player. Lastly, players are also given the option of building their relationship with the other characters the way they want to through speech options and optional quest objectives. In making all these choices, players become stakeholders in the game’s progression. This makes for a far more immersive experience. Additionally, the freedom given in the players’ actions gives tinge of realism to the game.
- Lens of Essential Experience
Dishonoured provides for a range of experiences for the player. The primary experience is that of being an assassin. A word thoroughly misrepresented thanks to the popular Assassin’s Creed franchise, Dishonoured brings back the full flavour of what it means to be an assassin – you are sneaking around in a place where your presence is unwelcome, and any one mistake could be your last. Armed guards are actively looking out for signs of suspicious activity, and traps have been set for the unwary. Players experience the excitement of doing the forbidden, and triumphing over the overwhelming odds. On a smaller part, Dishonoured also provides the experience of being empowered to right the wrongs done to you on your own terms, as per the setting of the narrative.
- Lens of Meaningful Choice
As mentioned, the player is allowed to choose how they play – do they submit to vengeance and kill, or not. How should they respond to the characters they interact with? In Dishonoured, these choices have an impact on things such as Corvo’s relationships with the other characters, as well as the outcome of the overall narrative. As a close subordinate of The Empress, The Princess looks to Corvo’s actions for guidance now that her mother is lost. How The Princess would rule, once Corvo’s mission is completed, will depend on how Corvo decides to act in the course of the game. Thus, the player’s actions are given meaning, allowing for better immersion into the game.
- Lens of Challenge
In attempting to infiltrate the large maps created by the developers, players will need to consider and plan various things, such as skill builds, equipment upgrades, as well as the timing and details of executing the infiltration. Then, upon execution the player will need to react swiftly to factors previously unknown to them, and make new plans for their next move. Overcoming these challenging problems is part of the fun of Dishonoured.
- Lens of Curiosity
Dishonoured gives players a wide variety of options – the various supernatural skills, the range of gadgets and modifications – but few of these are actually really essential to the game’s progression. Thus, players are free to wonder – suppose I played without supernatural powers, or without gadgets, or if I had to kill everyone, or if I had to spare everyone? Additionally, as mentioned above, Players may attempt stages again by progressing through different access paths. Thus, Players are free to handicap themselves, challenge themselves, and re-attempt the game to see how it would play out. This makes for hours of fun exploration.