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Dishonored Review

  • First Released Oct 8, 2012
  • Reviewed Oct 7, 2012
  • 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.
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.
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.

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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
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Dishonored

About the Author

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.
339 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for conormcdonough

I found myself loving the artwork and style of the characters, vehicles, and sets, and I really enjoyed playing the game. Something that was nagging at me while I played, however, was the urge to explore more of the world I was in, and to learn more about the backstory. That would, obviously, have made it a totally different game, but I think the developers have a rich opportunity for another title that immerses the player (a la Skyrim or the original Deus Ex) in the world they’ve imagined.

Avatar image for Subcritical

This game is soooo excellent. Took me a couple restarts to really get sucked in, but man, it is really great. Decided to play the whole game without using any of the supernatural powers. Only upgrades are to Vitality and Agility, with the upgraded spyglass and upgrades through Pietro. Taking the nonlethal approach unless someone discovers me. The tension when played like this is superb. Awesome game. Second play through, I'll murder everyone..hehe.

Avatar image for willywill

@Subcritical: I played this when it came out but quit. Now I'm playing again and like you said I'm sucked into the world. I end up murdering everyone. lol.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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 gameis great,the scenery iswonderful;not to like,should besuspected of beingcrazyoraddicted tocrack.Tip: createshortcuts topowers andweapons, otherwisethe game getskinda boring.

Avatar image for RElKO57

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

Avatar image for deactivated-57bcc1891a93a

@RElKO57 o_o

Avatar image for JustinRiden


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.

Avatar image for thorn3000

@JustinRiden @RElKO57 he said worst game he ever played, likely played 10-15 games in his life and simply considers bioshock to be the worst

Avatar image for Cowbie

@kiriel1962 @cubrman The person just sounds like a complete moron. Maybe its better we not know ;)

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for skyklg

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

Avatar image for 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?

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for Crazed8

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for mixalisss13

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

Avatar image for deactivated-59e0c3e2b083b

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

Avatar image for kessyblinks

how do i download on this site?

Avatar image for cubrman

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

Avatar image for 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?

Avatar image for King-And-Knight

this game is overrsted........................

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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?

Avatar image for Toygar

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

Avatar image for AYONGAMER007


Avatar image for Jason-BroDY

this game's overrated -_-

Avatar image for max-hit

@Jason-BroDY No it's not. It is actually over-over-over-over-over-overateed.

Avatar image for GValer

Need to used. Firt time hear about this game!

Avatar image for CrushedGear

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

Avatar image for thorn3000

well, just finished the game and it's good, but, not as much as you would expect from all the 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...

Avatar image for whitewolf707

omg weres tha price

Avatar image for max-hit

Poor review.

Avatar image for Killer_73

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

Avatar image for zoczuki

I thinks Corvo means sausage in Sweden

Avatar image for asifah30



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.

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for rncarvalho

Just showing a different perspective here. I'm a little more than a casual gamer and, above all, I don't have that much time to play...2-3 hours a day, tops. I just started playing this game and I'm loving it. It was worth the investment. I'm having lots of fun and it really helps me forget all the stress we go through every day. I'm not so into huge games now, simply because I'm never able to finish them. It took me ages to finish Fallout 3 and I'm not sure how long it's going be before I finish Skyrim, so I really don't mind if Dishonored is shorter. If you don't have much time to play, just want to relax and feel Über Bad-ass, and above all also want a nice and immersing story.....just buy Dishonored.

Avatar image for cenni09

Gotta say I agree with most of the comments... I've played about 10% of the game and almost immediately found it lacking - which was odd to me becauseI love the genre of gameplay, Betheseda as a whole, and premise behind the game. Then l looked at ratings and reviews gamespOt gave and was even more confused; I started to feel I should LOVE a game that I simply did not care for.

Playing on PC, gfx were dull (tried mods without success), gameplay seemed lax and easy, & story didn't grab me. Again, only played about 10% of the game so i could be wrong, will edit if my opinion changes but I'd have to get pretty bored to even chance that kind of update....

Avatar image for mike321987

i think this game lives up 2 & loads more to wat i expected it.s best game i have played in years

Avatar image for Delorth

Love the replay value of the game because of the variety of paths you can take to complete the game.

Avatar image for AlisterFlint

too short, too linear, too easy. but the pseudo-steam universe was interesting. although hardly developed.

Avatar image for spencerdawson

This game is ridiculously easy and boring. The stealth is completely optional and not half as fun/rewarding as just killing people. They also make it seem like you can kill or stealth and both are ok, but that's a lie, stealth is what gets you the good ending so that's what everyone ends up doing. Boring, easy, crap. Was this review paid off?

Avatar image for blueinheaven

I must be doing something wrong. I have a high end PC and all details maxxed and at high resolution and the graphics look pants. You can tell it's hi res with some things but the textures on a lot of things are low res like you'd expect to see on a 7 year old console.

Wait I just answered my own question. The game itself is okay, nothing special. Very disappointed in how it looks though. A hi res texture patch would be good.

Avatar image for 06053kma

no bad side in this game

Avatar image for Kaz32

This is a great game, but I’m going to nitpick a bit about things that bothers me.

One of the problem in this game is there’s no non-lethal direct attack besides sneaking and the crossbow. It’s funny how there is no option to just sucker punch someone in front of you. Instead, I have to either shoot a sleeping dart or choke someone from behind. I miss the takedowns from Deus Ex Human Revolution.

Secondly, the plot kind of gets predictable in the middle. When the twist happens, you’ll bound to go “I knew it”. Oh yeah, the endings depending on whether you have low or high chaos. Low=Happy and High=Bittersweet so make your choice count. It’s advisable that you save very often, advisably after you clear a room filled with enemies. Better to just neutralize enemies instead of killing them.

Lastly, at the start of the game, you are framed for the murder of the empress done by this teleporting masked assassin and a guy in a red dress. This wouldn’t bother me so much until you realize that THE MAIN CHARACTER CAN’T SPEAK. MY God, he could at least shout, explain to the guards about the situation or cry, but the only thing he does is listen like Gordon Freeman. Pretty stupid to just do nothing, especially when you know who did it a second before the guards came in. Like I know they are the ones framing you for her murder and the character is a typical first person voiceless character, but please, don’t just stand there!

Overall, I'll give the game 80-85 because it's not that special. I'll recommend Hitman Absolution over this, more variety in killing there.

Dishonored More Info

  • First Released Oct 8, 2012
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    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.
    Average Rating4377 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Dishonored
    Developed by:
    Arkane Studios
    Published by:
    Bethesda Softworks
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language