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Review

Dishonored Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: October 7, 2012
  • PS3

Dishonored's engrossing world and intoxicating interplay of supernatural powers make it a game you'll want to play more than once.

Dishonored is a game about many things. It's about revenge; armed with deadly weapons and supernatural powers, you seek vengeance upon all of those who orchestrated your downfall. It's about a city; the plague-ridden industrial port of Dunwall is lovely to behold, exciting to explore, and seething with secrets. It's about people; an array of vibrant characters await you, and as you get to know them, you are drawn further into their intrigues, hopes, and heartbreaks. But above all, it's about choice. The incredible variety of ways you can engage or evade your enemies makes Dishonored impressively flexible and utterly captivating.

You play as Corvo Attano, former bodyguard to the empress and current death row inmate. The prologue chronicling Corvo's crime not only inflames your desire for revenge, but also sparks your affection for a vulnerable character. These dual fires foreshadow the choice you have to make each time you encounter an enemy: do you walk the bloody path of brutal vengeance, or take the nonlethal high road and rise above the violence that suffuses the city? Your actions have small, yet tangible consequences throughout your quest, and it's up to you to decide what kind of retribution you want.

A cadre of conspirators helps you escape imprisonment, and you find out that they are plotting to bring down the very men who wronged you. These characters embody familiar archetypes--the dutiful admiral, the egotistical nobleman, the cheeky servant--but Dishonored is not content with one-dimensional portrayals. An excellent voice cast (which includes a number of notable actors) and stylish character design help bring these people to life. As you listen to them talk (you remain mute throughout), read their journals, eavesdrop on conversations, and learn whispered secrets from an arcane, psychic item you acquire, you come to know the characters and the world they live in. This kind of knowledge is engaging, so even when the main plot follows some well-trodden paths, you're always interested and eager to press on.

Exploring Dunwall is another one of Dishonored's great pleasures. The city prospered from the whaling trade in the recent past, but has fallen on hard times since the influx of a deadly plague. Brick walls and wooden beams loom over alleys crawling with rats, while granite facades and metal barricades block off the cobblestoned plazas of the wealthier neighborhoods. Dunwall evokes a British city in the grip of the industrial revolution, but painterly coloring and slightly exaggerated proportions give the place a unique feel. Though some texture details can be slow to load in the console versions, the lovely artistic design is undiminished, making Dunwall an immensely appealing place to inhabit.

Sure you want to be in league with ol' mutton chops here?

Of course, there are tangible benefits to exploration as well. Sewers, alleys, apartments, and estates all hide items that restore your health, reinforce your arsenal, teach you secrets, or allow you to gain new supernatural powers. The large areas you must traverse to get to your targets are riddled with out-of-the-way places to explore, and finding them reveals not only hidden goodies, but alternate routes as well.

Figuring out how to move through the environments is an enjoyable pursuit, and one of the first powers you get allows you to teleport a short distance. The quick pop and blurry whoosh of this power provides a nice audiovisual accompaniment to the thrill of defying natural law, and if you choose to supernaturally augment your jumping ability, your range of locomotion is drastically increased. Though you'll likely have some awkward moments as you try to go places that the game won't let you, Dishonored's level design is consistent enough to make such moments easy to avoid once you get the hang of things.

In addition to these superhuman movement abilities, you can choose the power of possession. Slipping into the skin of a rat or the scales of a fish allows you to navigate small tunnels and reach new areas, and when leveled up, you can even possess other humans for a short while. Acquiring and improving your supernatural powers requires runes, though, and there aren't enough for you to max out every power. There are no bad choices, thankfully, though some clearly favor lethal or nonlethal approaches. Pacifists will appreciate the ability to stop time, for example, while assassins might favor the power that instantly turns corpses to ash.

Powers are equipped in your left hand and are accessed with a radial menu. This menu also contains your pistol and your crossbow, each of which has a few different ammo types. Sleep darts are the only nonlethal munition in the bunch, and they are invaluable to players who try to play the entire game without killing anyone (yes, it's possible). The rest of your options are decidedly deadly, including grenades and razor-flinging proximity mines.

With such nasty weaponry and formidable powers at your disposal, you have a startling array of ways to deal with hostiles. Simply sneaking by them is often effective, as is creeping up from behind, applying a sleeper hold, and dragging the bodies to a dark corner. Killing can be quiet too. A deadly drop from above makes no noise, and a properly timed windblast can blow an enemy off a high ledge, never to be seen again. If you prefer to see the whites of their eyes, your sword is always in your right hand, ever ready to duel. You are a formidable swordsman, able to block and counterattack against most blows, but clanging swords bring more guards or thugs, and they won't wait until their allies are out of the way to take a shot at you.

Enemies are prone to fatal dips in intelligence from time to time, but they are generally tenacious and alert enough to put up a decent fight. Once you start experimenting with powers, weapons, and environmental elements, Dishonored's amazing flexibility shows its stuff. Summon a swarm of rats to devour an enemy, and then possess one of the rats to sneak up behind those foes who come running. Blow enemy projectiles back in their faces, killing them instantly. Freeze time, enter a room with hostiles, drop a live grenade, exit and close the door, and then watch the explosion through the keyhole.

Turning your enemies' tools against them can be mighty effective.

Sure, you didn't really have to watch, but taking a playful approach can result in even more supernatural fun. Blow bottles off a shelf from a hidden perch to terrify the maids. Snatch a painting while a guard is looking at it instead of waiting for him to walk away. Throw a corpse off a balcony onto a guard, but freeze time before it hits, so you can watch his reaction when you appear in front of him as he gets clobbered from above. Dishonored has multiple save slots available, and taking advantage of the ability to tear things up and then reload a fresh start encourages you to engage in some absolutely delightful mayhem.

Yet even though it allows you to wipe the recent slate clean, Dishonored still begs to be replayed from the beginning. Unlocking different powers, finishing missions in different ways, striving to be more or less murderous, and seeing a different endgame all offer appealing incentives to give it another go. It's a rare game that feels so compulsively replayable, but Dishonored is such a game. The compelling abilities, the bold artistic design, the colorful characters, and above all, the freedom of choice--these are the things that mark Dishonored as one of the truly remarkable games of this year.

The Good
Great suite of abilities encourages creativity
Spacious environments riddled with pathways and secrets
Lovely design brings the city to life
Superbly voiced cast of interesting characters
The Bad
N/A
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Dishonored

About the Author

With his Apple IIGS as the spark and his neighbor's NES the fuel, Chris Watters' passion for gaming caught fire early. Y

Discussion

21 comments
TheTygerFite
TheTygerFite

I hate this game.  There is nothing original, exciting, or interesting about this game. This comes from twice playing through.  Maybe having recently come from playing Fallout 3 I'm spoiled in the exploratory/story departments, but still. That its rated 9.0 is insane. Anyone that mentions 'well, it has such good graphics' is wrong. My iPhone does the same with Infinite Blade, and besides, do people really base how good a game is on the 'graphics' anymore? 

Start a game, standard gameplay tutorials and cut scenes, look for 'hidden' items in a level, complete the level whether or not you find them, a puzzle comes ups, solve it easily, or don't, stage is over. Welcome to every level. 

It is worth about $20 if you have a steady job where you can afford to flush $20 down the toilet, and a rainy weekend with no other games to play, then this is a decent time burner. 

thekazumalord
thekazumalord

I waited till the price dropped to about $25 and just started playing it today on my PS3. This game is pretty fun for the most part. The only downside is some of the enemies are quite annoying .. especially the ones who take a gulp of whisky and breath fire at you... swinging your sword does nothing and  the attack drains your heath fast. Other then that. im enjoying it so far.

exponential7216
exponential7216

entered birthday....Jan 1, 1905...watched the video review... 

Thrill-Kill
Thrill-Kill

Totally disagree with the majority of the reviews on here. If you're going to compare assassin games, Assassin's Creed makes this look like a PSX title. The city of Dunwall might be expansive and vast, but the graphics are like a 3D cartoon and the fact that you don't actually get to openly explore the expanse of Dunwall is a big fail for this title, aside from the fact that apart from runes and bonecharms, which only serve to upgrade abilities, there is not very much else to discover anyway.

People are saying how original this game is, but to be fairly honest, Devil May Cry and Prince of Persia have done all of the magical things this game has done, but better, while Assassin's Creed does the fictional historical setting much better, and most other assassin games do gameplay with far more realism and depth.

Another real gripe I had with this is that, in my opinion, assassination games need to have decent and varied close combat options. Everyone is saying things like 'you have the ability to block attacks and counter attack' like it's something awesome. But it isn't. It feels like Fallout 3's close combat system, which we all know isn't great, but that's not the point of Fallout, though it is a focus of a game like this. Combat is important and the developers could have done so much more to make that aspect of the game realistic. 

Corvo Attano is apparently, from what I gather in the game, a master of combat. A man who goes into a district and can dispatch every enemy in the place, and yet, with that idea, we have literally two close combat options; block or attack. It's flat and drab and it feels awkward to use the close combat system.

It could have benefited from a 'lock-in' kind of system like Assassin's Creed, or a fluid button strike system like Uncharted. Something, anything, to make it more immersive in combat.

The whole graphics and feel of the game is kind of woolly. It doesn't have the cohesion that a game like this needs. For instance, in Assassin's Creed, or Hitman Absolution, or Splinter Cell, we've got assassination/stealth games that make assassination techniques feel real, from the graphics, to the blood spatter, to character movement, body placement, controller vibration and sound effects that all come together to create a sense of realism. In Dishonored it feels like they've taken all of this for granted, except for the sneak attacks where Corvo will slit the enemy's throat or stab them, and even then their bodies feel like they weigh nothing and can be thrown longish distances, at which time they turn into rubber.

It's just so unpolished and it feels like everyone is jumping on the Dishonored bandwagon as if it's the newest, freshest thing since the PS3 came out, when really, it's all been done before, and been done better.

Dishonored is a great idea but an idea isn't enough to keep my interest in a game. It needs to deliver, and it didn't. The story is standard and for all the famous voices, the characters are dry, cheesy and forced into being what you'd expect them to be in a game like this. 

In a word, it's crap.

toyo75
toyo75

I enjoyed playing this game. However, just when your character's stats and powers are already becoming great, the game is already ending. I wish it was a lot longer or  has a new game + feature wherein you retain your accumulated powers and stats.

greymon12345
greymon12345

I will like to try it.  It is full of vicious battles and action.

farbrorbla
farbrorbla

Bought it for about $25 and love the game, with that said it is way to short and simple to be worth $65

knixxx
knixxx

Love this game. I'm on hard and probably 50% way through the story. Art work is fantastic. Game play is both rewarding and succinct. Story is good (not great, but not bad). The options one can use to get from point a to point b is the key.  Gaming (like movies, music, etc) is very subjective. I could not stand Dark Souls and returned it the same week I got it. Others think it's the best thing since sliced bread.  If my options were Buy, Wait or Pass, I would definitely go with Buy.

Derugs
Derugs

Amazing game...  Game cover art suks! :) 

bullseye077
bullseye077

This game immediately reminded me of Splinter Cell with the bottle throwing to distract enemies, the sneaking up from behind, and the hiding bodies just in an old age atmosphere. After playing a few levels as some had mentioned it got boring, and repetitive. There is some creativity in having 3, or 4 different options in how to go about an event. You can run and gun the entire game, but the feeling of excitement is more rewarding from the stealthy tactics offered. I personally was glad I rented.

spootyanimal
spootyanimal

One of the best games I have played in a long time.

Fantastic, styalised environments with a rich atmosphere that is hard to describe. Brilliantly creative gameplay, meaning you can approach a level in almost any way you choose, simply demanding that you try it again and again, just to see what the outcome will be. 

Brilliant movement, even from the basic swings and dips whilst you are walking and jumping.

If you check out everything, and don't try to blast through the levels, the play time is more than enough. I don't know why people are saying its too short? I mean, yes, id have liked more... but isn't that just testament to the quality of the game? 

It wont be for everyone, but if like me, you are getting bored of identikit FPS, RPGs and sandbox games; you want a bit of challenge and you can appreciate quality level design and artwork...  then you WILL enjoy this game. 

TetlyT84
TetlyT84

Sorry, but this game was BORINGzzzzzzzzz

toshineon
toshineon

Looking at some comments here, I have to ask. Was I the only one that actually liked this game? I know it's not fantastic, but it sure as hell is a breath of fresh air.

chyng85
chyng85

Looks unique and attractive~!

jediclub
jediclub

I dont understand why ppl complain about short story. Not all games have to be 100+ hours content. Some games are played because they have other qualifications such as graphics

crazy_gamer15
crazy_gamer15

Those of you that have not played it, yet dish out dirt - shame on you. Dishonored is an absolutely fantastic game (yes, it may be short for the casual gamer). You can kill enemies creatively, voice acting is excellent and graphics and gameplay are brilliant. Completion Is hard (trophy wise) and the best thing is that you cannot upgrade EVERYTHING! Meaning you'll have to play it again, and try new tactics. So many ways to go round and pretty hard if you play it on the most difficultest level. I agree, there is not many bad things apart from the shortness of the game (mission times vary, to complete a mission fully - regardless if you want clean hand achievement - they do get long). To sum up in a couple of words: extremely fun and creative.

Borrizee
Borrizee

I think the game is unique in its form but is that enough to be Great?

kismettle
kismettle

This game looks fun (I like that you can choose whether to kill or not), but I think I'll wait till the price goes down to buy it. Seems a little too overhyped, and this review seems anything but objective.

icelaika
icelaika

This game sounds good, but isn't this review in a way slightly bias stating how there's no "bad" section towards this review...

I mean it has a 9.0, a very good score, but what is the thing that it is lacking from being that one outstanding game and the last 1 point?

Bieber_Hole_69
Bieber_Hole_69

This game sucks ballz, too short and the AI is stupid. GS really dropped the ball with this review.

chang_1910
chang_1910

really? this game has nothing under THE BAD... lol, i really hope is some weird glitch

Han_Shot1st
Han_Shot1st

This game was a total disappointment.

Kflap
Kflap

The game is amazing but it still has a flaw. Even with exploring and mapping out areas. Its too short. It goes by really quickly and yes it has a whole ton of replay value but that doesn't mean new missions or story line. 

Fabyu24
Fabyu24

A dark poisining atmosphere and good graphic work that could be contagious!

rikboone87
rikboone87

Is it just me, or does EbeneezerGoode sound like a troll?!??!?

angeloti83
angeloti83

This game looks awesome! the powers, the gameplay ,the options, the enviroment... definetly a must buy.

dralutfi
dralutfi

finally a good game appear and a good editor review it in nice way ....... am going for this one after RE 6 for sure ;)

Dudelove276
Dudelove276

Seriously, no 'bad' aspect of the game?

 

Well, considering the same developers of Skyrim V, a game so big, complex and open ended that I'm STILL PLAYING 100++ hours to date, the graphics and first-person gameplay looks very familiar. Are they using skyrim v template for this game and adapt it to a more modern rendition?

 

The game looks great and I;m a fan of Bethesda's recent games :-D

painkilla357
painkilla357

pre-orderd it so as soon as i get off of work its on and poppin. yea buddy!!!

snake3rules
snake3rules

Is this available on the psn.... Seems to be the only way I buy stuff these days, impulse buys online when I got nothin getter to do... But this, AC3, and Hitman are my top three this season... Glad to hear it lives up to the hype!

QtrArt
QtrArt

i will buy it after beat RE 6

franzito
franzito

I just hope this is not a Bioshock of sorts. I've really had a hard time liking Bioshock.

eyerok
eyerok

@Thrill-Kill@Thrill-Kill Assasin's creed is a shit excuse for a game. There is virtually no stealth whatsoever, which is really a poop on the 'assasin' in the title, while Dishonored is a proper stealth game. Also, Assasin's creed pretends to recreate a historical setting but castrates the historical aspect entirely, and dishonored is set in a fantasy/fictional world which cannot be compared to assasin creeds boring, drab, dull world. Asssasin's creed is a decent idea, but it has not been developed well, and thanks to their releasing a game every year, there is virtually very little improvement over the sequels (except maybe the first two games; but even in their case, AC II is what AC I should have been all along considering the technology at the time, instead the first game was a mediocre beta version of AC II at best).

As for the action, its not just block/attack in dishonored, only a newbie will handle the action like that. You can use your gadgets and secondary weapons along with your sword, as well as your powers such as blink, time stop, Rat swarms etc. Even then the game encourages you to take up stealth more often. you said AC is more realistic, but even the more over the top fictionalized Dishonored is more 'realistic' because you cant just fight hordes of enemies and kill them all, unlike AC where you're a superhuman 'assasin' who can kill 20 people in a single battle. And the lock/strafe combat? dont make me laugh. How many First person 'sword' fight games have you played? the lock strafe thing only works in third person action games, whereas in First person it just messes up the flow.

The movement, controls and action in dishonored is much more polished, the art is more vibrant and colorful (where AC's is bland) and music are both much more aesthetically pleasing and subtle, the level design makes you want to look and explore every nook and corner of the levels, where in AC it is so bland and tasteless that every alley, building, road etc are just made up the same way with the same tasteless color palate.   

In a word, assasin's creed is a pile of dog crap and one of the most overrated games of this last generation, along with MGS 3.  

eyerok
eyerok

@toshineon too hardcore/old school for people. Its practically a mixture of Half life 2 and Thief, with a touch of Deus Ex. But even that does not completely describe it. Its just one of those games that will only be appreciated by seasoned gamers who have been playing video games for more than 10-15 years, the rest of the people will mostly be divided in their opinion.

Lord_Tigger
Lord_Tigger

 @jediclub

 It's only a short story if you go plowing through it and killing everyone. Playing on total stealth made the game quite long for me.

eyerok
eyerok

@Borrizee  its more than that. It is also unique in its substance.

Borrizee
Borrizee

@bhyesilnil is it to short? And the replay(s)?

dalua360
dalua360

 @Kflap I have 220 gameplay hours on my Skyrim, and I finished the main story line just now. I wish all games were like this! My Just Cause 2 is at 72 hours and I still don't have half of the map discovered !

EbeneezerGoode
EbeneezerGoode

 @franzito Bioshock WAS over-rated, I too did NOT enjoy it's gameplay as much as it was hyped to be. I even gave up near the end as it wound me up, poor gunplay, stupid splicer enemies. However what I can say is I would GLADLY play bioshock through 10 times rather than play Dishononored through even for an hour again! If you did not like Bioshock you will absolutely detest this game. It has none of the charm or inventiveness of Bioshock, at least that game made a decent stab at immersing you, this game is flat and dull and a rip off of elements of Bioshock, Half life 2, Deus Ex, Undying and many more much worse games. It wins 2012's 'most crappy overhyped game' award :)

Hodge996
Hodge996

 @franzito I thought I was the only one!  I can really appreciate Bioshock and the world they built etc... I just didn't enjoy it.

obey21
obey21

 @Lord_Tigger  @jediclub agreed, my first play through of it i just used time bend and killed basically everything, or either ran past everything. one of the strengths of this game is that you can approach however you want to.

franzito
franzito

 @EbeneezerGoode Thanks for telling me that, I've sold my Bioshock copy recently, just couldn't get through the game.

magnatic
magnatic

 @angeloti83  

 

Resident Evil 6

Dark Souls

Final Fantasy XIII & XIII-2

Uncharted 1-2-3

Dead Island

Heavy Rain

 

Dishonored More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Dishonored places players in the role an infamous assassin who was the once-trusted bodyguard of the beloved Empress until he was framed for murder. Using supernatural powers and deadly weapons, you must sneak, shoot, and stab your way through a dystopian city in order to depose a cruel tyrant.
    8.4
    Average User RatingOut of 4046 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Dishonored
    Developed by:
    Arkane Studios
    Published by:
    Bethesda Softworks
    Genres:
    Adventure, Action, 3D, Open-World
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language