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Bethesda turns to 2D animation to explain Dishonored’s backstory (updated)

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Dishonored's backstory 2D animation

While every other game company seems to be blowing its marketing budget on huge live-action trailers and commercials, Bethesda Softworks and Dishonored developer Arkane Studios have elected to adopt a painterly 2D style to explain their game’s back-story.

Dishonored, the latest stealth-action game from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim publisher Bethesda and BioShock 2 developer Arkane Studios, is set in a dreary dystopian city called Dunwall (think plague-era London). Players control Corvo Attano, a bodyguard to the nation’s Empress. When the Lord Regent enacts a plot that ends with the Empress’s murder, law enforcement imprisons Attano for the crime.

After that, he uses his superpowers and stealth abilities to free himself.

It looks interesting, and so does this back-story video, The Tales of Dunwall:

Bethesda hired commercial-animation company Psyop to produce the video. Psyop has produced computer-generated trailers for games like Fable III and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.

The studio produced this Dishonored webisode with nearly all hand-drawn animation. The team added some computer effects in post-processing to give it that painterly look, but otherwise, this is traditional, hand-cramping work.

It’s refreshing to see a company get creative with its marketing opportunities

Update: The second and third episodes are up.