This week Arkane Studios released their stealth action game Dishonored to rave reviews. In spite of the critical acclaim, designer Harvey Smith would be happy if there's only one game. That might not be a bad idea.
"Part of me would love to see future games leverage this world," Smith told Kotaku "and part of me would love it if the vault door was just closed and that's it. This is your one view into the Empire of the Isles and into the city of Dunwall."
In Dishonored, players take on the role of a magical assassin called Corvo. Much of the praise for the game centered on its steampunk setting, which mixed both science fiction and the supernatural. The result was a very dark and engaging experience. You can read Steve's glowing review here for more thoughts on it.
A sequel seems likely to me because of how much effort Arkane poured into this world. They filled the world with books, notes, and other writings that fleshed out the backstory. The setting expands well beyond what we actually see first-hand in the game. Surely there are some other stories to tell in this world, right?
On the other hand, maybe this setting would lose its luster if Arkane made another game. We've already been introduced to this world so it might lose the ability to really shock us. BioShock 2, for example, wasn't nearly as impactful as the first game because we already knew all about the underwater city of Rapture, the splicers, and the Big Daddies. Part of the fun in Dishonored was in exploring an unfamiliar world, and you lose that spark by returning to the same place in a sequel.
Still, I think Arkane could find a way to make it work. Perhaps it's just a matter of moving the story to a completely different location within this same world. Bethesda does that with every new Elder Scrolls game and that's enough to make the experience fresh.
I wouldn't be sad if Arkane decided to leave Dishonored's steampunk world behind. However, I'd be inconsolable if their next game isn't another action game with equal parts stealth and exploration. There are too few studios making games like this. Dunwall is an incredible setting, don't get me wrong, but I'd have fun being a magical assassin in any world.