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Review

Dishonored Review

  • Game release: October 8, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

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. The lovely artistic design shines on the PC, bursting with detail and making Dunwall an immensely appealing place to inhabit.

A peaceful moment from before the fall.

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.

And that's the end of that.

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

30 comments
Hotdogger83
Hotdogger83

Can't believe the reviewer found no bad points. How about the wooden facial animations that look like a puppet show at best? After LA Noire set the standard for facial animation in games, anything less should automatically be marked for a demerit.

speedulisses
speedulisses

Esse jogo é excelente, os cenários são maravilhosos, para  não gostar, deve ser suspeito de ser doido ou viciado em crack. Dica: crie atalhos para poderes e armas, caso contrário, o jogo fica meio chato.

In English:

This game is great, the scenery is wonderful; not to like, should be suspected of being crazy or addicted to crack. Tip: create shortcuts to powers and weapons, otherwise the game gets kinda boring.

RElKO57
RElKO57

I thought bioshock was maybe the worst game I ever played, this game is actually pretty fun, i like it

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

This game felt to me like there was something awesome trying to break through but not quite managing.


1.  The "great suite of abilities" that Chris mentioned really isn't that extensive and while fun at the start and useful throughout, don't exactly do enough to make you feel like a badass.  Whereas in Human Revolution I could hardly wait to get my hands on the next ability, in this game I commonly was left thinking "Would I even *use* any of these?"

2.  The story is awful; I can remember the names of two of the characters and I couldn't even tell you why.  The lines are delivered solidly but somehow also in an extremely boring way.  Weak.  Given the premise, there's a *lot* of waste here.

3.  If you're trying to go through the game non-lethally, it takes a whole dimension out of the gameplay and leaves the game feeling distinctly hollow at times.

4.  The level design is good enough that you'll want to explore even little corner, but really there's not much reason to do so.  There are health potions and mana potions and food and a whole range of things you probably won't be able to pick up or get no benefit from doing so, and even if you *do* find the odd Rune or Bone Charm, the things you can do with them aren't "awesome" as they should be.

5.  Still regarding the world, a lot of the places are recycled and even though they're very intricate and full of secrets, it'll never fully convince you that it's a real full and open world.  You'll go and talk to the guy with the boat and he'll take you some place then come and get you and take you back multiple times.


On the whole the game is great, but it's also somewhat frustrating, showing you what it could have been then not delivering all of it.

skyklg
skyklg

Good game.


But I cant help to feel like its a greatest hit of titles of yesteryears (Deus Ex, Half-Life, Thief, BioShock). Its always got to be a boat and a light-house. 


The city just look like Black Mesa with steampunk, heck even the assassin looks carbon copy of the Combine from Half-Life 2. However, I still think the art design for Dishonored was done very nicely. 


The multiple paths gameplay is great but the story is linear and predictable as hell. The 'boss-fight(if u could call it)' is laughable. But then again, the most satisfying part of a journey is probably the process and not ending, finding multiple ways to get to the 'boss' is fun. 

Weeeooojr
Weeeooojr

I see people compare this to Bioshock; I didn't like Bioshock. Can someone advise if they think I could still like this game?

moc5
moc5

Good game. Well worth your time.  I don't like too many games these days, but this one is pretty darn good.  Even the DLC I would recommend, though keep in mind you are no longer Corvo.

Crazed8
Crazed8

This game to me was more like eeehhhhhhh... the gameplay was great but the story was crap in my opnion

foojam
foojam

I haven't played the game yet but i think i will like it, i trust Arkane Studios, Arx Fatalis was great, everyone mentions Bethesda for this but Arkane Studios is the developer, not Bethesda. And i don't think that this game should be compared to Assasin's Creed in a negative way because Arx Fatalis inspired Dishonored, a game that was released years before Assassin's Creed. Maybe AC was inspired by Arx Fatalis, not the other way around.

MasterOfDeath23
MasterOfDeath23

In my opinion this is a great game and i loved it, not due the artistic design but also due the gameplay with that kinda bioshock atmosphere and the feeling this is just a first person assasins creed. Good thing that its another type of game instead of that cod and battlefield stuff thats in the stores were kids do their daily bitching and whining and yelling about someones mother or father. Everybody has their own opinion about this game but i certainly loved this amazing game.

mixalisss13
mixalisss13

this game is awsome...!!i dont know why there are so many complains

Sirkrozz
Sirkrozz

No Bioshock references and/or similarities to mention at all...?

cubrman
cubrman

Well, keep on buying Bethesda titles people and you will soon see frickin Obama mentioning their crappy titles on the Oprah show. 

skulb
skulb

Could have mentioned that the combat is lame, that the rat`s behavior is totally unrealistic and that the inevitable 3D bonanza means you`re fighting the controls more than enjoying the game. I just quit in the sewers and read a book, and I have no desire to keep playing even the first play through.

I guess reviewers just think 3D realism is all you need for a game to be good. I don`t.

nomailx
nomailx

You give AC3 less than 9, and this game a 9? What's wrong with you people? If I had purchased this game because of that review, I would so sew you. You keep messing up in review guys, it's like the 10th time I write this.

R1KU
R1KU

I loved it right up until the point the weepers were introduced.. Exactly the reason I stopped playing the uncharted games... Who even enjoyed the zombies?

Toygar
Toygar

Could have been better if the game had a thief crystal and more dark gothic envoirement

AYONGAMER007
AYONGAMER007

DISHONORED IS ONE OF THE BEST GAME!!!!!!!!!!!

 

GValer
GValer

Need to used. Firt time hear about this game!

CrushedGear
CrushedGear

Dishonored Is An Incredible Game ....I Absolutely Loved The Different Pathways Through Which You Can Complete A Mission!!! Bethesda Truly Never Disappoints!!

 

thorn3000
thorn3000

well, just finished the game and it's good, but, not as much as you would expect from all the hype...to me it seemed like a weaker version of the Thief games, I missed more darkness and more sneaking (and I did a sneaking playthrough on Very Hard), but enjoyed the magic power...could have used more enemy variety, biggest maps or at least maps which are not divided ever 20 meters, was probably done so for loading purposes on the consoles, but still...

Killer_73
Killer_73

similar to bioshock and rage but in the end it is not better at all

 

zoczuki
zoczuki

I thinks Corvo means sausage in Sweden 

asifah30
asifah30

Attention:

========

 

The Goods (in addition to above)

 

- Using super natural powers is a blast.

- Lots of ways to complete a mission ( just like Dues Ex:Rev)

- Great replay value

 

The 'Bad's

- Story does not engage you and a bit linear/predictable.

- Enemy AI is really really weak.

- Throughout the game all the enemies are same (only two type of enemies, ones are the city guards and others are assassins.).

- There are no rewards for completing the mission without killing anyone or not being detected.

- Player has super natural powers and it feels a missing or lack of not having some sort of "Bosses" in the game.

 

lyncer777
lyncer777

Overrated game, but i prefer bioshock in terms of artistic design... the atmosphere is soooo dulll.... everytime i started the game i get bored after a minute... then i quit

JustinRiden
JustinRiden

@RElKO57 

worst game? i can understand why you wouldn't like the game but it definitely wasn't the worst game ever. Just look at the star trek game or ride to hell. those games are actually bad, bioshock is good maybe great depending on who you are.

hemanshk
hemanshk

@naryanrobinson I don't think you actually gave enough time to understanding the game. Most of your points can be easily refuted. The abilities you use can be pretty damn useful and enjoyable if you're creative enough. The powers you get are quite useful. And if you can find enough runes, they can grant you pretty good powers. There are as many runes and bone charms in the game as you actually need. Only points that I do agree with, is that characters were a little shallow, and that the level approach was repetitive, with Samuel just taking you to and fro to the actual levels.

skyklg
skyklg

sorry, its City 17 from Half lIfe 2 not black mesa


turnkeyportal
turnkeyportal

@Weeeooojr the comparison only reaches so far. They both have interesting, dark settings, are clearly not made for children, allow for different styles of play, are first-person only and generally draw the player in with their world building. You feel like you are right there.

Gameplay wise though, it's very different. Bioshock was a shooter first and foremost. You could experiment with weapons and powers, but it's still a shooter primarily.

Dishonored is a stealth game. You also have powers and weapons, but they're all designed to enrich the stealth gameplay, even the more offensive equipment.

So if you didn't like Bioshock because of the shooty shooty bang bang gameplay, and enjoy a good stealth game, this is a definite recommendation.


Syphen_bast
Syphen_bast

@Sirkrozz why? is it because its a first person action game with "powers"?    

Because taking that out of the equation, nop.

=)

PS: (Played both)

kiriel1962
kiriel1962

@cubrman I know this post is old but I had to ask - what does this comment mean?  

Firstly, I love Bethesda so that part doesn't resonate with me but why is a problem that Obama mentions the title on Oprah?  Does she even still have a show?

tweet7
tweet7

@nomailx What would you "sew" him? A panda bear? Elaborate cross-stitch? Like 'Dishonored' the choices are plentiful.

max-hit
max-hit

 @Killer_73 Its nothing like Bioshock or Rage those were good games specially Bioshock. Dishonored was an overrated, overhyped and short game with bad gameplay.

max-hit
max-hit

 @lyncer777 You can't compare this game to Bioshock. It was an average game with lost gameplay.

szeping97
szeping97

 @lyncer777 it is meant to be dull.....what?you expect rainbow pony come out from the sky and nyan cats?

luqmanr
luqmanr

 @lyncer777 I kind of like the atmosphere of Dishonored. It is supposed to be dull and gloomy in my opinion. Except for the last mission.

 

The only thing that frustrates me is the very short missions and the narrative ending. Plus, I don't feel the connection between Corvo and Emily. Probably because their backstory is not integrated with the main storyline, only on Books (that I never read) perhaps.

thorn3000
thorn3000

@JustinRiden@RElKO57he said worst game he ever played, likely played 10-15 games in his life and simply considers bioshock to be the worst

max-hit
max-hit

 @szeping97  @lyncer777 dull/dəl/Adjective:Lacking interest or excitement. Verb:Make or become dull or less intense: "time dulls the memory"; "Albert's eyes dulled a little".

 

Dishonored More Info

  • 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 4033 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Dishonored
    Developed by:
    Arkane Studios
    Published by:
    Bethesda Softworks
    Genres:
    3D, Open-World, Adventure, Action
    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