The unmistakably English art of Dishonored

One of Dishonored's biggest selling points is its unique take on the steampunk aesthetic. At a recent preview event for the game, Sebastien Mitton, the game's art director, and Viktor Antonov, visual design director for ZeniMax Media, explained how this strange world came into being. Dunwall, the city which players explore in the game, has been heavily influenced by London. (The city itself is set in the Isles, a clear reference to England.) Although inspired by an iconic real-world city, Arkane Studios wanted to create a place never seen before on any medium.

London inspired the fictional city of Dunwall

"London was chosen as an inspiration because it is perceived as mysterious to Americans and other Europeans," Antonov told us. However, anyone who's played Half-Life 2 will likely draw similarities between Dunwall and City 17. Across the game's various locales, the team wanted to convey a sense of oppression as the main emotion players experienced. A banner proudly proclaims: "The Boldest Measures Are The Safest." The environment is static--with no change in seasons, nor day or night. Different checkpoints and gates within the game separate the Rat Plague's victims from the corrupt but elite members of Dunwall's high society.

High society in Dishonored

Pulp magazine illustrations served as yet another source of inspiration for the art team, with characters given unique proportions. Many facial expressions in the concept art were captured from photographs of real people, such as the scowl on the guard in the illustration with the Lord Regent and his entourage, to make them unmistakably "English" characters.

Characters are meant to look unmistakably English

Of course, Dishonored can't be considered steampunk without unique technology. Powered by whale oil, a "mysterious and volatile source of power," players will ultimately have access to an assortment of exotic contraptions and weapons--necessary tools on their quest for revenge.

Gadgets are powered by 'mysterious' whale oil

Dishonored will be available on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 later this year. For more on the game, read our preview. To see the complete collection of concept art, browse our gallery.