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Dishonored hands-on - fancy dress parties and pistol duels

Jet-black humour and bloody revenge prove an irresistible combination

Framed for murder and locked up to die, the first few minutes of Dishonoured are certainly eventful. Tooled up by rebels who also want to kill The Lord Regent - who framed him for the death of the Empress - the masked Corvo is approached by a mysterious entity known as The Outsider who gifts him with magical powers, turning him into a supernatural assassin. Time to crack on with that killing spree, then.

Jumped to a mission later in the game, we're tasked with infiltrating a masquerade party. Once we've snuck past the Tallboy patrolling the river, there's no longer any reason to hide: everyone at the party's wearing a mask, and in the eyes of the other guests we're no different. Presumed to be mimicking the infamous assassin, the guests applaud our tasteless outfit - allowing us to wander through the party in plain sight.

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The incidental dialogue is superbly witty, but we also have the opportunity to converse with some of the guests at the party and sample the game's pitch-black narrative. First, an apparently simple request to deliver a message leads us to unwittingly sign up for a duel with a man in a fox mask - then, after we've gunned him down, his bodyguards choose to take the rest of the night off, deciding to find a new employer in the morning. It puts us on the back foot for a moment, but after it's all done it's hard not to laugh.

The wicked sense of humour is present in the main mission, too. Our target is one of the three Boyle sisters, who are hosting the party. We could just murder all three, but we decide to try some detective work. The sisters are wearing different colours of the same outfit, as a game to keep the guests guessing. Mingling downstairs uncovers some clues as to who's who, as does peeking at the bedrooms upstairs.

One patron seems to know of our mission, and begs us to spare the life of the woman he loves. Compelled by mercy we decide to tell the target that someone intends to assassinate her - informing her that if she wants to live, she should meet us in the basement. "Oooh, are you going to tie me up?" she simpers, having spectacularly misread our intentions.

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Knocking her unconscious and taking her to the sewers, her rescuer waits on an escape boat, with promises that we'll never hear from either of them again. "One day she'll thank me," explains the stranger. "Maybe one day she'll even grow to like me. After all, she has the rest of her life." Oops. Turns out this wasn't a merciful act after all... It's a ghoulish but excellent twist, and we can't help but revel in the jet-black humour. This is a dark, brilliant world, and we can't wait to visit again.

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