Dishonored screens and preview

Dishonored is a first-person shooter from Bethesda - the people behind Skyrim - set in a futuristic, steampunk Victorian inspired era.

Pocket-lint was treated to a couple of levels demo of the developers, Arkane Studio, ahead of the official release later this year.

Harvey Smith, known for his past work on the Deus Ex franchise, and Raf Colantonio, who worked on Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, are the lead designers on the game.

The storyline is simple. You play Corvo Attano, a once-legendary guard for the Empress, seeking vengeance against the Lord Regent who has framed him for the assassination of said Empress.

Luckily for you Corvo is, of course, at the top of his game with melee skills like no other, and the knowledge to wield supernatural powers if that's the route you choose.

Set in and around the imaginary city of Dunwall, players can choose to approach each level differently, opting either for the gung-ho FPS approach or a more cunning stealthy attitude.

The more you play one approach the more strength, knowledge and skill you will acquire as you hone your style - but you can still mix up the styles, we've been told.

It is not just about becoming the master stealth agent. How you tackle the levels will depend on how the game reacts to you with the AI learning your style of gaming an adapting accordingly.

The inhabitants of Dunwall and the surrounding area all live and breath regardless of whether you are there or not, it seems. Stop someone being mugged in one level and the muggers won't be around to cause you trouble later.

The same knock-on effect goes for the way you play Dishonored. Choose the gung-ho route and the living, breathing city starts to get a lot more on edge. The city dwellers, say the developers, starts to feel uncomfortable, guards become more aware of hostiles opting to patrol in groups rather than on their own, while the residents also start to pay less respect for the city they live in.

Take the stealth route, however, and the city starts to respond positively as the inhabitants feel the wrongs of the past are starting to be behind them.

That "good feeling" might have something to do with one of the levels we were shown called the Golden Cat Bathhouse.

Here the objective is to dispatch two characters in the story called the Pendleton Twins who are corrupt members of parliament and supporters of the Lord Regent. Opting to show us the stealth mode first, our demo had Corvo infiltrating the building and slowly sneaking up on the guards one by one.

The best way, we are told, to disguise a death by assassination is to make it look like an accident. Here, using magic powers earned through the game, you can possess any living creature - and, in this case, the target.

According to developers Arkane, when people are possessed they complain of feeling a bit under the weather, while those around them will ask if "they are okay?", but ignoring those concerns, and now having possessed one of the twins, our demo sees the target walk out on the balcony.

Two seconds later Corvo pulls back out of the body, halting the possession - your body isn't left somewhere else, if you're wondering - and before the enemy has time to react he is pushed over the edge. He "jumped" will be the verdict.

This, says Arkane, will be seen in the city as a good thing.

This possession element seems to be a recurring action and tactic in what we've seen. You can possess fish to get into buildings through the water system or, as we saw Corvo doing, use supernatural powers, and a power called Devouring Swarm,t o have enemies devoured by a mischief of rats before you possess one of the rats to escape.

Other uses of the posses skill is to allow you to jump from heights greater than you would be able to survive, possessing someone on the ground where you land to save yourself. It looks like it could come in handy.

For those who prefer the gung-ho approach, there are plenty of weapons to appeal and appease. The Blink weapon, for example, allows you to slow down time drastically so you can take care of a barrage of baddies quickly, while those who like close combat fighting will enjoy the ability to gut their foe with a series of dagger moves.

Then there is the array of crossbow arrows, including some s that set your enemies on fire.

And all this is set in an environment that looks like an alternative Mayfair. Taking heavy influence from London, the man behind the look and the feel of the city is Viktor Antonov, art director for Half-Life 2. The graphics look gritty, the city expansive enough to make you feel you aren't on a linear path to the end of the mission with no alternatives. The city feels real and breaths Victorian London. It probably could pass for it, too, if it were not for the futuristic elements dotted here and there.

We only saw two levels played out in Dishonored from two different areas of the city and they both looked impressive, gameplay wise we were treated to all the tricks in store in one go, and have been told that you'll have to grow into the role and the weapons available as you play.

The possession stuff should give you an interesting take on the first-person shooter gameplay, while the steampunk feel gives it a different look from games like Rage or Bioshock, for example. Let's hope the storyline and the urge to complete it stacks up when the game eventually comes out later this year for PS3, Xbox 360 and PS3.

Are you looking forward to Dishonored? Let us know in the comments below