8/27/14

Steampunk Summer: Yes, You Can Live in a Clockwork World!

In case you had any doubts that the steampunk genre has expanded into almost every medium, check out the successful and popular video game, Dishonored.  As a steampunk enthusiast, this game intrigued me when it came out two years ago.  Now that it's offered free (for a limited time, so go grab it!) with my Xbox Live Gold membership, I finally got to play it for myself (and watch my husband play for hours as he got completely sucked in).

Click to learn more about Dishonored.

What does Dishonored mean for steampunk?  It's total immersion from the get-go.  There's no mistaking the influences in a world driven by ingenious machines and basic power sources.  Gears, gadgets, and old-school weapons are close at hand.  Factories pumping massive clouds of pollution into the sky fill the horizon.  Just to make sure you're getting the full Victorian/sci fi experience, your path often includes flesh-eating rats that are best avoided.  The costumes blend everything from the high collars of the Elizabethan age (16th century) to more familiar 20th-century suit coats.  (They're fascinating from a historical standpoint, add depth to the in-game world, and show quite nicely that steampunk doesn't have to be restricted to one time period.)

What does this steampunk-infused game mean for gamers?  Why do I think it's worth your time?  Dishonored benefits from doing everything right that makes a game memorable, unique, and addictive.  It starts with the story - you play Corvo Attano, bodyguard (and possibly more) to the empress, who is murdered in front of you.  Her daughter's kidnapped in the same attack, you're set up to take the blame, and six months later, it's escape or be hanged.  Steampunk, industry, gadgetry, and technology are seamlessly blended into the gameplay.

Although set in a world all its own, Dishonored feels like home because it shares elements with other much-loved games.  Horde food, snatch coins, and read notes a la Elder Scrolls.  Sneak up on enemies, knock them out, and hide their bodies like in Thief.  Upgrade your powers, mask (see game cover picture), and weapons reminiscent of Deus Ex.  The unsettling, dreamlike encounters will take you straight back into the nightmare sequences from Max Payne (OK, maybe not that bad).

I don't know if any other steam-based games are out there, but Dishonored sets the bar pretty high.  Nothing feels "old" or "new," it just is, as if the world created is real and all you have to do is traverse it.  It's a fun, interactive take on a genre that's expanding and reinventing itself all the time.  This is just one more way to enjoy it.

If you're more of a video person than a video gamer, you can take in the look and sound of steampunk in my new book trailer for Steampunk Carnival.  The ebook's available for download (including the first 5 chapters free), and the paperback is coming along fantastically, so expect that in the next month or so.

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