Arkane Studios’ latest, Dishonored, allows for entirely pacifist playthroughs – but the way you play the game changes the world around you, for good and ill.
“Our goal is to let you ghost the game,” co-creative director Harvey Smith told told IGN.
“No guard ever went ‘Hey, what’s that?’ because you snuck by behind him or you stopped time and no alarm was ever sounded. You can actually complete the game without killing anyone.
“For all the key targets, all the assassination targets, there are more thorough behind-the-scenes alternate ways to eliminate them.”
Smith described this path as an “extreme extreme”, adding that most players would fall somewhere between all-out action and pure stealth. The game measures players’ precision – or rampant lack of it – with a system called Chaos.
“Killing a guard is chaotic, but not very chaotic. Killing a maid, this creates more chaos. Ringing an alarm creates chaos. After some threshold we have consequences,” fellow co-creative director Raphael Colantonio explained.
Not all the consequences are necessarily bad, or even effective on gameplay.
“Some of them are more like atmospheric effects like there are more rats, for example. Some of them have gameplay consequences like there are more guards patrolling the area. And some of them are story consequences like this ally may now betray you or instead be very excited. It’s all linked to different effects all the way down to the endings,” he continued.
The rats are a particularly cool example, as they’re tied into the game’s plot, and lend some neat abilities to players – if you’ve been chaotic enough to bring them out of the woodwork.
“We talked about powers that made you a figure of darkness, and eventually we started calling the plague the rat plague,” Smith explained.
“Then we started wondering what we could do with rats dynamically. They avoid light, they’re attracted to bodies if you leave bodies out. If there are many of them they will veer off and attack somebody. If there are only a few they shy away. We don’t do many things that are just ambient, cosmetic things in the background. If we can turn those into gameplay, why wouldn’t we?”
Dishonored is due on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012. Hit the link above for the full preview, including details of the game’s environments, combat system upgrades, and magic.