I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the art of world building, particularly in Dishonored, a 2012 video game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Not only one of my favorite game franchises, but also by far my favorite game world.
Those of you that haven’t had the amazing experience of playing through Dishonored, Dishonored 2, or Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, you are missing out. This game has clockwork and black magic, cities powered by whale oil, thugs, witches, and assassins. (What could possibly make this cooler?!)
I fell in love with the world itself, because it is so close to the steampunk/magic that I crave. However, it is how this world is presented, too.
I love the unique way that video games can build worlds and tell stories through the environment. Dishonored allows the player to wander through the world – you can either go straight for the main objective, or you can venture outward and explore. You can find books, objects, paintings – things that enrich the world and the setting and the lore, or you and skip them altogether without effecting your game.
In books, it’s easy to get off track and shove exposition and world-building down your reader’s throat. In a game, it’s easier to present the bare bones and sprinkle the lore throughout, so that a gamer can decide how much lore to read and how much to skip.
And not to mention the environmental storytelling. In Dishonored (all games) there are a number of abandoned buildings, secret hide-e-holes, and ways to go about the level with varying stealth. You can find letters and diaries and little things scattered about my citizens of this world that enrich the overall world and plot, widening the game’s perspective.
What I love about Dishonor is that I can sneak around or fight; I can find a number of magic-aided creative ways to finish a mission, and find new windows to crawl through, and I can replay it as a good guy or a bad guy or a muddy mixture of good and bad.
There is magic, there is black magic, there are cults, runes and bonecharms; there is comabt or stealth or both; there are secrets in the lore and lore to be uncovered.
I love the world of Dishonored!