Dishonored is an interesting, if short, game. Clocking in at about 15 hours, I played on the "Hard" difficulty, and didn't feel like I rushed it - though I didn't spend a lot of time trying to collect everything either. The way the missions are set up I kind of felt like I had time to get "in" to a mission, but once it was over I guess I was in a bit of a rush to get to my get away boat (though if the level permitted it I took a stroll on my way back too).
This is one of those games where the gameplay is pretty standard. By that I mean, it takes the usual cues from games like Far Cry, Crysis, Deus Ex, Hitman, etc where you can do a mission completely by stealth, action, or somewhere inbetween (or sometimes by alternative means). It presents each level with an interesting set of paths to take, however I don't think I found myself really deviating from the set path. I can't really remember any times where I went to any elegant or extravagant means to complete a mission. I basically walked in the front door (or went through a window or where ever the marker was pointing) and then made my way easily to the target. It didn't feel like Hitman where I was purposely looking for distraction cues from smoke alarms or using disguises to sneak past things. Later in the game I did use the posession skill a bit to get past gates, but it was usually only for that reason - to get past gates. The skill doesn't last long enough to try and "blend in" with others and infiltrate as one of their own. After the skill wore off I usually just suffocated them. However, later on I noticed that was becoming increasingly difficult to do (they always seemed aware of me at this point in the game), so I just stabbed them in the neck instead. Likewise, in Hitman, you have a variety of ways to take out targets. Guns, silenced guns, sniper rifles, knifes, poisons, environmental hazards, etc Dishonored lacks this array of tools, but makes up for it by giving you a maze like map, in which you use the map to alter your game style, rather than the killing tools. In the end it sort of balances out.
From a gameplay perspective this game is quite solid. Controls were originally a little overwhelming, but not by that much (just getting primary and secondary weapons mixed up means I would accidently kill someone instead of putting them to sleep). Once I got the hang of it I realised the controls were very intuitive conidering the amount of options you have when taking down a target or interacting with the environment. What this means is you could easily undertake a number of actions, and it was quite fulfilling using the crossbow to put a target to sleep and then instantly choke his buddy, then move both the bodies, and hop over a wall and blink down the street somewhere.
So as far as gameplay goes those are my complaints: while the maps offer choices, I felt that I was always sticking to the beaten path and that I didn't have a lot of cues to explore on my own; and although of course that is up to player I didn't really feel like the game was offering them to me.
My main complain comes from the story. It's terribly weak. The silent protagonist things really annoys me in this game. It's not a plot element that works, not when your character is being accused of a crime, which serves as the entire focus and motivator of the plot, and is unable to defend himself. Instead, to prove his innocence, he goes on a revengeful, murderous campaign (if the player chooses to play like that). The story lacks cohesion and direction. Well, the story isn't fragmented, as such - and it may just be my opinion - but at somepoints it feels like focus is lost. Later on in the game some other details emerge will are never expounded which only leaves the story feeling incomplete, empty, and unsatisfying. I don't want to go into them due to spoiler reasons, but in saying that they have little bearing on the story at all. One of the other major elements is something I would have liked to have seen resolved or delved into deeper, but I'm unsure if my play style resulted in poor understanding or if the details just aren't there (at least one of these is explained in an alternate ending, which [going by Wikipedia] I SHOULD have obtained but didn't for some reason). So all in all the story itself is very lackluster, feels incomplete and is ultimately unsatisfying for those reasons.
But the real beauty of this game is the art style and setting. It's simply brilliant. It's what made the game so fun to play. I was just so awed and impressed by it. My imagination and sense of wonder was on overdrive. There were some lovely huge set pieces, the vistas of the city, the small dark and dank alley ways the clothing and costumes, was just all fantastic and I so badly wanted it to be a real place just because of how wonderfully (scary and beautiful and terrible) it all seemed. From the first seconds of the game right through until the closing moments the art style shines more brightly than any other element. It kind of makes me wish it had been a completely open world just so I could wander and explore without worrying about the rest of the game which feels like such a drag in comparison.
On top of that the art is supported by a very interesting setting; the world is based on London in the late 1800's where the main source of fuel is whaling. Guns seems to have been new inventions, but punch card notes feature as storage devices, and there appears to be forms of electricity. Amidst this, and serving as a major part of the backdrop, is a rat carried plague which is crippling the city. This creates a wonderful contrast of slums and aristocratic manors. On top of all of this is the fact that the city is in lock down, so there is a heavy security force, which shows off some of the more advanced technology in the world. It's simply wonderful.
I finished Dishonored about 30 minutes ago and the story was just an absolute let down. Gameplay is really fun, but the art style is the selling point. It's not quite steampunk, but it's certainly something that makes playing entirely enamoring.
(Due to a game bug [only one I encountered] I lost my screenshots and can't include them. Sorry!)