With information coming thick and fast in order to try and feed the expectations surrounding Arkane Studios‘ anticipated action game Dishonored, it was inevitable that some of it would disappoint. The game itself may be set in a Steampunk, revisionist Victorian London, but the protagonist Corvo Atano has a far less interesting history.
Raf Colantonio, creative director behind the project, has told Penny Arcade as part of an editorial that Corvo is a protagonist without a past:
“The player himself has no true back-story. He’s the bodyguard of the empress, and that’s all we reveal.”
The reason behind this decision is apparently due to the fact that:
“a past isn’t interesting for players”.
As someone who loves back-story, be it explicit or more impressively told through subtle environmental clues, I can’t get behind this decision and find the rationale to be an inelegant excuse at best. Regardless, one element of the protagonists’ past will apparently be present, namely how he gained his supernatural powers from a character called ‘The Outsider’.
Co-creative director Harvey Smith added that rather mysterious character carries with him a cautionary tone:
“He says how you use this is up to you, but note that there will be effects. It’s funny, when we first talked about the Outsider, people assumed he was the devil, egging you on to do greater and greater evil. Or he would judge you harshly if you did evil. But instead we have an amoral observer character.”
We will have to wait until October to find out if this game will suffer due to being bereft of back-story. It’s certainly a disappointing revelation, but I’m still convinced that Dishonored will manage to deliver on the potential of the premise.