Recently Dishonored has gotten some negative press for pandering to the inept people that seem to populate their testers, and today brings more disheartening news. According to Eurogamer, Arkane has stated that the reason for the lack of shadow hugging stealth mechanics is because they felt it wasn’t realistic enough, which is what they are going for.
In Thief the light is very very important. At the beginning we tried to be in the same mood: use the light, use the shadows.
But we realized that when you’re standing in front of an NPC like this [hand in front of face] it’s not realistic – we must admit that. In the real world it’s not like this.
“As we are a bit perfectionist, we wanted it to work as in Thief and very realistically. With these two notions we got crazy and decided to eliminate the light parameters, because it was too difficult to have both.”
I would say that this is faulty logic on Arkane’s part, but there was also a secondary, and slightly more legitimate, reason for the lack of a shadowy world.
“You might have noticed that our artists went kind of crazy to create the most detailed and interesting world,” said Dinga Bakaba, game designer and associate producer, “so it was kind of contradictory to put some pitch black areas where you can’t see very well.”
Again, I believe Arkane is using faulty logic to make this conclusion. Take Bioshock for example. Much of the game was shrouded in shadow that obscured the wonderful art style of the game, but it fit the mood. There is more to the artistic style of a game than just the visuals, there is also the mood set by the environment (e.g. the Silent Hill franchise).
Art style aside, how difficult would it be to add destroyable light sources, or put some magic in to extinguish fire based light sources? And really, how much of a perfectionist are you being if you don’t have destroyable light sources in a stealth game? Hell even Metro 2033 had them and it isn’t even technically a stealth game.
What upsets me about this isn’t that they don’t use shadows for stealth, it’s that the reasoning behind it is poor and says “We’re to lazy to make this happen.” I seriously doubt that this is going to affect the game terribly, but this is just another instance of an excellent but niche genre of games being streamlined and cut-down instead expanded on.
Quotes from Eurogamer.net