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on October 19, 2012
I'm getting close to 40, am not a gamer and I'm loving this game. A lot of love went into this one, oil painting-esque graphics (whole game is like an oil painting) and it seems more geared towards an older audience - rather than 14 year olds. This one is up there with Half Life and Bioshock.

Thank you Bethesda for NOT screwing the single player experience by diverting resources away from the single player to focus on a very unneeded multiplayer.
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on October 9, 2012
Visuals=95/100 (Terrific Art Style; technically sound well enough)
Narative=86/100 (Very Inconsistent Overall Narrative makes up for dense world and endearing characters)
Sound=94/100 (Great voice acting and terrific sound design drive the game)
Game Play=100/100 (Truly emergent game play and player choice allows for so many ways to play)
Replay Value=93/100 (Multiple play styles provide for an endless amount of ways to play. Game can take around 15-20 hours if you want to)

You remember Looking Glass Studios, right? The famous company who revolutionized PC games in the 90's? In general, LGS was one of the best studios ever, spawning some of the most innnovative game play ideas, which in turn has a lasting impact on games today. They are one of the most important video game studios to ever exist, a truly maverick studio that gave way to game innovation that still has a lasting impact. Why, do you ask, does this concern Dishonored? Well, I'm happy to state that Dishonored is the latest game to truly take inspiration from the Looking Glass legacy. Dishonored is easily one of the best games of the year, and it's one of those games that truly doesn't fall into any neat genre. An Immersive simulation* is the best genre Dishonored falls into, and it's the best game in this all-too-small genre since Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

There is much to talk about concerning Dishonored. Let's start with it's fiction. Dishonored's fiction, for the most part, succeeds. It's a brand new IP that truly feels fresh, and it's both distinct and memorable. You are Corvo Attano, a former legendary body guard, now a rogue assassin as the result of being framed by the corrupt leadership of Dunwall. Straightforward enough, right? Well, the somewhat straightforward story doesn't at all reflect the fact that Dishonored's insane world is anything but straightforward. Its personal revenge driven story isn't all that exciting by itself, but it truly falls upon a unique setting that manages to transcend its general plot, and makes for something extremely memorable. Dishonored's characters are interesting, its art style is an oasis in the horrendously vapid desert of "realistic" visual styles, and Dunwall is a stunning, engrossing location. It all adds up to make one of the most unique gaming experiences of the year.

Dishonored has quite possibly one of the best settings in a video game since Fallout 3's Capital Wasteland. Dunwall serves as a backdrop for the plot, and it's an extremely imaginative location with tons of absolutely enticing political and social over tones. Whale oil, political corruption (always a staple!), class division, population purification, rats, assassins, giant machinated monstrosities, and industrialization are all embedded within Dishonored's awesome world. Oh, and disease. Lot's and lot's of disease. It's all set in a stunning amalgam of late 18th century/early 19th century Europe and the futuristic tendencies of Half-Life 2 (particularity the Combine structures). It is a killer set up in a vibrant environment, and it's simulation game play model falls upon some memorable locales, interesting characters, and all end up making Dishonored a great experience. Along the way, a unique cast of characters rounds out the story, from assassins to natural philosophers, corrupt political leaders and horrifying zombies who weep blood. Dishonored as a new IP shines, and it's truly excellent.

Unfortunately, the story of Dishonored isn't perfect. Dishonored is well written, features interesting characters, and has a beautifully realized world but it's narrative structure is somewhat inconsistent. Its ending is a tad abrupt, and it sags with its narrative thrust at times. Most importantly, the game really didn't capitalize on the Outsider, which was a shame given how interesting the character was. You feel it doesn't dig as deep into the character as you wanted it to, and since the character is so intriguing it ultimately feels like a lost opportunity. HOWEVER, it's not a deal breaker, though. Even though the story doesn't reach its full narrative potential the whole way, its amazing art design, interesting characters, amazing setting, and player driven story telling don't let some story shortcomings suck up the whole experience. You shouldn't be worried about the plot overall, because Dishonored is ultimately a memorable experience.

The technical side came out unscathed, and while they probably aren't the most technically impressive around, Dishonored proves art direction wipes the floor with blistering tech. Having said that, it was the sound that almost even more impressive. The Sound design is outstanding. It's carefully crafted to the point of a sound scape. At the risk of sounding pretentious, it really does work for the game like prose does for a novel. The voice acting is just as good, with some huge names on the roster. Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), Carrie Fisher (Star Wars), Brad Douriff (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest), John Slattery (Mad Men), and Chloe Grace-Moertz all lend their voice talents to Dishonored. We all know that having big talent on board makes sure the characters get the voices they deserve, and Dishonored succeeds with its characters.

Oh, and as a side note, no asinine morality systems! I won't spoil anything, but for those who are sick of game developer's obvious failures to implement interesting moral choice will be pleased at Dishonored's Chaos System. Basically, your actions and how many enemies you kill affect the rest of the game in permutations and numerous incremental changes within the world, not through binary, A-B-C type changes. It's refreshing to see developers finally understanding how to really tackle "morality": leave it all up the player and let them decide for themselves, and instead stress consequence for their actions.

As nice as this all is, Dishonored's game play is easily the shining star. Dishonored is the newest game in the "immersive simulation" genre, where numerous genres and storytelling collide into one experience. Dishonored is a true spiritual successor to the Looking Glass pedigree, and those who long for the days of Thief and Deus Ex (two of the game's main influence) will be excited once they get their hands on this one. Don't fret though. This isn't a "lite" version of anything that came before it. You are going to get a new game experience; this is not a carbon copy of either game series. Instead, Dishonored keeps LGS's spirit deep within their design philosophies, and they created something unique and fresh. It's a game that refuses to be lassoed by genre conventions and spits in the face of the focus-group and play testers, offering a truly amazing mix of stealth, first person action, sword play, complemented with a sick arsenal of (mixable!) magic and gadgets.

As expected, the best part is how Dishonored focuses on emergent game play. As a result of the terrific game design, the game truly rewards replay and gives you the amazing thing we call player freedom. The levels themselves only make this even better. Dishonored is not open-world, as each level is a mission, with a hub level in between each mission (think something like Monster Hunter). However, like Crysis, each level is essentially a sandbox; and how! Aside from the baffling amount of combat freedom, the levels themselves are extremely sprawling and open ended, carefully suited to match and reward every play style any gamer chooses to do so. The combat here is extremely deep, and you can take your own approach in any way you seem fit, from sneaky stealth to all out action (and yes, you can play through the whole game without killing a SINGLE person!), as well as mix between the two. Basically, if you think you can do it, you probably can. In fact, players have done things the game makers themselves didn't know was previous possible! That's just awesome. Just wait and see what happens when the creative players get their hands on this one and experiment with the game play.

Each of the nine missions constantly reward exploration like no other game I've seen. There are so many ways to accomplish your objective, and in addition to the huge, extremely well made levels, the numerous side missions alongside the regular mission will provide even more playtime. The huge levels surely provide for some truly open ended game play, and you will want to do just that. Plus, no other game will want you to explore everything the levels have to offer, and doing so yields plenty of great rewards. It's the only way to get ruins and find the bone charms in order to alter your play style as you see fit.

To accomplish this, Dishonored's power and weapon system had to be extremely varied and flexible. Dishonored doesn't let you down. By collecting runes, bone charms, and money throughout the game, your play style is truly customizable in a vast amount of ways. Want to upgrade your crossbow so it sets your enemies on fire? You can do that. Want to choke an enemy out at the speed of light and be a general stealth machine? You can do that too! What's more, you can upgrade the numerous powers in order to help you specialize the play style you want to go for. Stealth players will be able to upgrade their level of vision, while those who prefer summoning rats will be able to do that to. Plus, being able to equip numerous powers in order to, say, improve your swimming speed, or being able to improve the effects of your elixirs. Dishonored's RPG level customization ensures you that, even with a game that will take you around twenty hours (and you should take that long), you will want to play it again and again, just to see what else you can do. It's a big layer of player freedom of an already player driven game, and that is all the more refreshing in a world of hand-holding, linearity, and restrictive game play. Dishonored's game play really has the joy of discovery within it, and it's up to you to discover all that can be done with the game play system.

With the various NPC's around, you'll need all the tools you can get. Their AI, when they become your potential enemy, is some of the best I've ever come across. The game's ability really does hinge on the NPC AI, and thankfully, Dishonored's AI is intelligent enough to support this (although you should play on the highest difficulty level to support this). Dishonored's advanced AI system allows for some truly unique AI, a dynamic system that controls the enemies through numerous factors. Sight, sound, perception, state of alertness, and every change to the world around you effects what happens in the mission. Playing carefully and being aware of everything you do is crucial to surviving the story, and it ensures that the encounters you come across in the game will make you think.

Dishonored is really one of those games that we don't see too often. Enjoy it. For me, this is easily the best game of 2012. Unless something ends up surprising me this year, I don't see Dishonored losing out the GOTY crown. It is games like this that make me believe that video games still have a pulse. The legacy of Looking Glass Studios still radiates through the game industry, and games like Dishonored prove it. So get off the fence and get it. You won't regret it!

PS: If you're interested in what I mean be immersive simulation, check out the comment box for an article describing the genre, by Steve Gaynor of Indie Game fame.
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on October 13, 2012
I just finished a stealth playthrough of the game. To me, it was a somewhat frustrating experience, but still fun. I wanted the good ending, so I killed as few people as possible, but I did resort to direct combat at times.

Attacking people directly is not only quicker, but there is also a more satisfying array of options. The game gives you many lethal weapons, such as guns, traps and the ability to reprogram any enemy technology to target bad guys instead. There are also powers that allow you to summon rats that devour your enemies and whirlwinds that slam them into walls.

In stealth mode, there aren't very many ways to incapacitate the guards. There are crossbow bolts that put people to sleep, and you can sneak up behind people and knock them out, but that's about it. The option to knock people out does not always work as planned, either, and, even if the prompt comes up on screen, Corvo will sometimes raise his knife to block instead, usually right before the guard turns and sees you creepily standing behind him, which understandably freaks him out.

In a nutshell, if you're still deciding which way to play, stealth offers the good ending, and violence offers gameplay fluidity.

One decision I thought was strange was that the game always had Corvo carry a knife in his right hand, even if you are doing a nonviolent playthrough and even when you are only attempting to use a stealth skill such as blink. I never used the knife, but it was always there, in a space that could have been occupied by more useful abilities or equipment.

The area levels are relatively open, compared to some of the more linear games that are out nowadays, but it's difficult to fully appreciate your surroundings in a stealth playthrough. At some points, I just wanted to walk around and look at the city, which had a watercolor aesthetic I really liked, but guards are everywhere, and you have to get rid of all of them before you can explore openly.

I did not let that keep me from doing sidequests, though. I am very much a completionist, so I tried to explore all the areas fully before I left. There are many sidequests that don't even show up in your journal until you find a specific area, like saving a woman who's surrounded by rats or protecting an accused witch from overzealous guards, which helps with replayability. It was also fun to find the runes that upgrade your abilities and listen to the Outsider's (the guy who gives you your powers) take on in-game events.

Though I tried to be as thorough as possible, and though I played stealth mode, which is inherently time-consuming, I finished the game in about eight hours. The story was a little formulaic, and the only characters who were really interesting were Granny Rags and the Outsider. I did like the audiographs, though, which important characters used to record their private thoughts (Sometimes too private, actually. If I was feeling guilty about murdering someone, I probably wouldn't record myself saying so.)

Another thing that offers insight into the world is the heart the Outsider gives you, which can tell you more about characters and places in the game. The heart has a really cool voice and sometimes says interesting things about important NPC's. I was especially shocked at what it said about Piero, the scientist who upgrades your equipment at the Hound Pits Pub. Unfortunately, minor NPCs with similar backgrounds all have the same descriptions, like 'she hides her hands, which are red and raw from work,' will be a description for all women who aren't nobles or major NPCs.

The tall boys, which were featured heavily in advertisements, show up very late in the game, and, as far as I could tell, there's no way to incapacitate them without killing them, which was annoying. There was an interesting tidbit in one of the books at Lady Boyle's party, though, which made them way more interesting and sympathetic.

Despite my negativity in this review, I did like the game enough to give it three stars. I enjoyed playing a new IP, and I actually do like stealth games most of the time. Dishonored offers a lot of unique ways to get around without being seen, like possessing animals and stopping time, and it was fun to play with all the different options. The more destructive powers look promising too. Usually I can't stand to play the darker path, but for this game I'll try to give it a go so I can try out all the abilities.

I pre-ordered this game months ago, and I think it was worth it. It was exciting to play something so new and different, even if there were a few flaws. Dishonored is hard to fit in one category, so I'm not sure how to recommend it to others, but hopefully this review will help anyone on the fence about buying the game.
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on October 20, 2012
When I first saw the trailer of this game I knew I was in for a ride. this GAME IS AMAZING. I play it on my xbox and I have nothing bad to say about this. The game is smooth with such a style of game play that almost leaves you holding your very breath, This is a must have for anyone who enjoys games like bioshock or any assassins creed games. I got my copy at game stop but what really matters is how awesome the game plays. The creepy mixed with the vivid make it a game that you can play over and over again. I enjoy playing it without killing anyone. I beat the game, and now I am doing going to kill everyone and see what happens. It's just so amazing the way the games course changes and I knew when I pre-ordered it I was in for a sweet ride in the rat infested city with all the cool new steam punk theme mixed with a Satanic vibe. fps/AC feel to it makes for a game I will never get rid of. If you enjoy creepy games mixed with a lot of thinking this is the one. The gore is cranked up to 11 on this Rats that you can summon and just awesome kills in the most creative ways possible.
I told all my friends about this while they are all playing borderlands 2, as am I cause that game is awesome as well. If you enjoy hide and seek style combat along with the chance to kill everything via supernatural and man made methods this is the game. The fact that you can get into places by possession of a rat or fish or human stop time in order to kill people with a razor wire trap, means this list of ways to kill is ridiculousness. I have never played a game like this before really nothing can you for it and the play through I have seen are not the whole game. If you play it you will understand. Gamestop has the 7 days to play or you can get rid of it for something else. No game can compare to this. I hope this helps you all and enjoy. It is something You will never forget.

If you are sick of the run and Gun games this will have you on the edge of your seat.
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on October 11, 2012
I'm sure anyone who's reading this review has already read up on this title. The comparisons to other games (Bioshock, a "steampunk" Fallout, etc.) are inevitable.

GENERAL: Dishonored is one of the more polished games that I've played in 2012. While it doesn't innovate,it successfully implements the stealth, action, "spellcasting", puzzle solving, and exploration aspects of many of its predecessors. The story tends to be dark, but you can affect just how dark the ending will be.

GAMEPLAY: Probably the most polar aspect of this game. There are times when I'm absolutely in love with the controls. Other times, I'm frustratedly trying to get the "press A to climb" prompt to come up. Combat can be a lot of fun, but wonky controls can get you trapped in a corner occasionally.

GRAPHICS: The art-style is incredibly reminiscent of Brink (which I know was developed by a different company, despite being distributed by Bethesda)...a "cartoon-ish", charicaturized realism (imagine the drawings you see done at street fairs, turn them into a photograph). No cell-shading, but facial/body features are often exaggerated. I've run into some texture issues, but overall it's easy to be absorbed by this world.

REPLAY: This is definitely a game that I will play through several times. First, because it's relatively short...12-15 hours for a fairly direct play-through, double that for explorers/completionists. Second, it is VERY difficult to build up a "max level" player in one playthrough (disclaimer: I have not started my second I'm "assuming" the second time will be "new game +"). Oftentimes, power-ups (runes, charms, etc.) are inaccessible early-on...and you may need power-ups that you don't have in order to get to them.

With multiple endings, I'm sure to try many approaches to affect how dark the ending will be.

As a 30-something year old married gamer, my budget for this entertainment is a fraction of what it was when I was younger. That being said, I'm exceptionally careful of my choice in titles.

I thoroughly enjoyed this game, and look forward to my next play-throughs.
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on October 24, 2012
...on how one feels about this game...

We do indeed live in a different era of video gaming, don't we...

I did a little research on this title before writing this review. I could have sworn that this was a remake or a sequel of another game, but apprently it is not - this is a stand-alone title.

This makes it a bit tougher, because I was hoping for some history to explain how the story of the game became to be. You start off on a small boat, heading to shore, and learn quickly that you're the legendary bodyguard to the Empress (that's nice; think I can get a bigger boat next time?) You're looking around and notice right away the odd graphics. At first I thought they were just shoddy. I learned later that this was intentional - "steampunk" I learned it was called. Similar tactics were used by Borderlands. That's nice, but frankly they bothered me.

Anyways, you're quickly kicked to the curb as a bunch of magical beings appear, kill the Empress (rather easily - nice job there, bodyguard) and a few well-dressed blokes appear and blame you. Now you're in prison, and you're going to be murdered. Cool.

Of course, you escape with some anonymous help, and are wisked away to a safe area where you learn of a coup in the works. Seems simple enough, right? You're going to have to kill some bad people, and then all will be well. "Why don't you go take a nap..." Got it. Don't mind if I do.

Then you awake, and things are... weird... Within minutes you're learning magical powers, you're hunting for musical runes and are handed a beating heart... Wait - WTF is going on here?

Dishonored is a strange, strange game. You have to be ready for the weird. Don't expect it to make sense, and don't expect to find a lavish backstory. You're kinda tossed into an action film at the start of the car-chase scene. Oh, and the cars fly. Just accept it, k?

Bottom line is, you're a magical masterful assassin with plenty of tools and tricks to go and kill some people. (Even though you showed up on a tiny little boat.) But... then the game keeps suggesting you shouldn't kill people. It actually makes it rather apparent - hints at the bottom of loading screens, stats at the end of levels that show the "panic" level induced by the number of people you've killed. The game makes it apparent that a "better ending" is achievable if you keep the kills low... Oh and here are some grenades and exploding crossbow darts and skills to rewire electrical fences to kill people and hell have a gun or two and...

...wait, aren't I NOT supposed to kill people?

And it gets even better - players tell stories of freezing time and leaving grenades in the lap of an NPC. Dropping people from roof-tops mid-sentence. It all sounds very fun, but the game literally tells you "don't do this stuff - it's a no no!"

Dishonored gives you tools to do things it doesn't want you to do. It's like having a sports car in a well-policed community with a 15-mile-per-hour speed limit. You can knock people out from behind and hit them with tranquilizer darts. That's about it. If they see you and you're fresh outta ammo, you either have to reload, or use a bond-like slew of assets to render them dead - and be made to feel guilty for it later.

And with everything Dishonored does, there's plenty it doesn't do. Physics are phoned-in at best. In one level I was carrying a valve knob, trying to find out where I had to place it to access a hidden room. Around the corner I found a guard-dog who I wasn't expecting and who wasn't pleased to see me. Almost on instinct I hurled the knob at the dog, hoping for at least a spare second to switch to a weapon. Instead the valve bounced off the dog and into Oblivion and the dog, much to my dismay, launched at me without even a sound-affect to hint at what I had done. Later, I picked up an unconscious body with the intent of hiding it. I turned around to realize that another guard had appeared behind me. I threw the snoring body of his accomplice at him, expecting to see the two tumbling across the floor. Instead the conscious guard turned towards me as the lifeless body simply fell off of him as if striking a wall. He wasn't too pleased to see me, either...

I didn't finish Dishonored - I was renting it. I was a little bummed to make my final game-save and eject it from the console. But I also can't say I was eager to pick it up again later. The entire experience was... bewildering. Confusing. Awkward. It was also rather creepy - almost Fallout'ish in it's tone (Don't misread: this game PLAYS nothing like Fallout - it just "feels" like it, somewhat.)

At the bottom of every adventurous car commercial is small text that reads, "Do not attempt." That's kinda how Dishonored treats ya. "Does this look awesome? Yeah? Well, don't do it..."
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on October 10, 2012
First of all, some things need to be cleared up about this game.

- It is NOT an rpg.
- It is NOT developed by Bethesda.
- It is NOT an open world game. The levels are pretty large though.

Now with that out of the way, on to the review!

If you're a fan of the Thief and Deus Ex series, this is the game for you.

It also has elements that will remind you of Bioshock such as how you use your powers, the art style, recording devices, using blue potions to refill your power meter, eating different types of food you find to refill your health, and setting off traps.

The graphics look kinda washed out and there's some textures missing. The walls in buildings look like smooth, grey blocks. If the textures were there, they'd be bumpy.

There's 9 missions and each level is a pretty large area so there is much to explore and many secrets to find. Missions can be played in several ways such as going in ready to kill (though you can be killed easily if you're not careful), playing slow and stealthy to sneak up on enemies, finding alternate ways to get to your target, etc.

You have several powers you can get, however, you can't get them all in one playthrough. You have to find runes in each level to upgrade the power you want and there's a limited number of those so be careful with what powers you pick because you're stuck with them.

As for the powers, these are: summon rats to attack enemies, slow down time, jump higher, teleport, gain a deadly blow attack, see through walls, possess and control animals, have a skill that turns slain enemies into dust to remove evidence if you kill them via stealth, blast enemies with wind, and an ability to increase your health. Upgrading powers adds extra benefits.

Your targets, rune locations, and bone charms (items that have effects added to them) are randomized each time you play.

I won't spoil the story but it was pretty good and the game has a large cast of celebrity voices.

I highly recommend this game. To do all the side quests and find everything, it takes an average of 21 hours and you can add to that if you want to replay it certain ways and go for both endings, otherwise it's about a 9-12 hour game if you play it once and go through the main story.
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on November 30, 2012
The only thing that surprised me more than how much I enjoyed Dishonored, was the reaction people at large had to the games considerable stealth element, but we'll get to that later. Let me lay out the bullet points of Dishonored.
The graphics are very good, and the art style lends itself well to the game. The controls are pretty much spot on. It is extremely easy to get to where you want to go, and you always have the tools to get there. Your main mystical ability, Blink, is a short ranged teleportation spell. In practical terms, a swirling blue reticule appears on the screen and signifies where you will land. It is simple to learn, adding a lot to the game.

Combat is well done, with your offensive sword capabilities mostly being centered around parrying and counter attacks. For long range offensive weapons, you have a pistol for when your foes have to die and you don't need to be quiet about it, or the cross bow for a stealthier approach. Springrazors are proximity mines that cut your foes apart as they walk over them. As a side note, there are abilities called "Bend Time" and "Possession" that add a myriad array of gruesome and satisfying strategies to your arsenal. I won't spoil that fun for you, just be creative and have fun with it.

You collect "Runes" to upgrade you abilities, which range from: summoning a swarm of rats to attack your foes and dispose of corpses, a blast of wind to open doors or knock your enemies off ledges, dark vision that allows you to see enemies through walls, and a few others that effect your base status. "Bonecharms" can be found scattered throughout the world, and they add effects to your actions like: increased lung capacity for swimming, choking your foes faster, being able to move more quickly with bodies, being able to break glass more quietly, ect. Using runes and bonecharms to customize your character is challenging and enjoyable, allowing you to play the game the way you want to.

Many people criticized the game because, when going the stealth route, you can't use all your flashy toys and abilities. Let me say this straight out; Dishonored is a fantastic stealth game. The problem seems to lie more in peoples expectations, and less in the games execution. Modern stealth has devolved to the point of having a silencer on your gun while you kick down doors and knife people to death has become the norm. Many people say "it is too hard to incapacitate people, and hide bodies", but the problem lies in that very sentiment. The "Stealthiest" way to play the game is to not leave bodies at all, aka don't engage.

There are two achievements that drastically effect the way you play. One is called "Mostly flesh and steel"; to get that you cannot get any abilities past Blink 1. The other is "Ghost"; to get it, you have to finish the game without killing anyone, besides key targets, and without ever being seen. Getting these two achievements on the same run forces you to embrace Dishonored's incredible stealth mechanics. Having done this myself, I can tell you that it is completely doable to go through the game with no abilities, and killing no one. For me, it enhanced the experience. Many people complain that the game is "too easy", but when you play as a character with an arsenal as broad as yours, with such incredible abilities, I guess it would be. Only when you play the game with the self imposed restrictions of not killing and not using abilities will you truly see the vast world that Arkane Studios has created.

Why fight your way through heavily guarded checkpoints, when you can scale an adjacent building and bypass the checkpoint entirely? It is difficult to incapacitate every guard, but isn't it more practical to simply bypass them altogether? Dunwall city, where Dishonored takes place, is a dying city, filled with danger, but also many different paths. From running across roof tops, sneaking though back alleys, to skulking through sewers and drainage pipes, there is ALWAYS a way to get to where you need to go without having to engage the enemy. That is what stealth IS; not engaging the enemy.

Now, do you have to play this way? Of course not! You can play any way you want, and it will be just as satisfying. You are not forced to play anyway, and playing the game multiple times, in multiple ways, is encouraged. Go guns blazing your first playthrough, and then try out stealth. Play using elements of both, or only use abilities; the choice is yours. This game wants you to play the way you want to and enjoy it. Dishonored is a fun, creative game, that is a joy to play, any way you choose to do. Game of the year contender, and an absolute buy.
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on January 2, 2013
The game is basic.

The game is fun and I enjoyed playing it but when it ended I was left feeling like "that's it?" It just seems like the game has a lot of potential and then it falls short. The powers were fun but you could only upgrade each power once after getting it. Collecting runes and bone charms was also pretty fun, but then you find out the bone charms are all terrible and you get to spend the runes on hardly upgrading your basic powers. Then as you play there really isn't any gear progression. You have your crossbow, your pistol, the spring razors, and grenades... that's it. For some reason I was under the impression the game would have a bunch of weapons and exciting ways to kill things, but no that never happens. Oh and let's not forget running around collecting all the loot which is actually just money that you can use to hardly upgrade anything.

My biggest problem with the game though is that once you have completed it, you can't go back and start from the beginning with the powers and upgrades you achieved.

It almost feels like I played the introduction to a really good game, but then that game never happens.
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on October 30, 2012
In Dishonored, you play the Royal Bodyguard to the Empress, and you've been framed for her murder. Armed with a variety of occult powers suited for stealth and an arsenal of weaponry, you set out to clear your name and bring the conspirators to justice. This is a linear story-driven game with levels, but there are usually 10 different ways to creatively complete each mission. You can kill every enemy you encounter or you can complete the entire mission without spilling a drop of blood and without anyone even knowing that you were there. How you play is up to you. But there are two different endings, and the chaos you create on your mission will spread throughout the empire. If you want the `good ending,' try to be as stealthy as possible. If you want the bad ending, kill everyone, set off all the alarms and cause as much damage as you can.

Concept: 9/10
The Gameplay of Thief, the storytelling of BioShock, the World Structure of Rage, and a unique steampunk setting all work together to create a memorable experience. If you haven't played those games, I'll explain. In Dishonored, your main purpose is to stealthily complete mission objectives in levels. You can play any way you like and you are greatly encouraged to use stealth and knock out enemies instead of killing them. As you are sneaking around the levels, there's plenty of treasure and items to find. As you complete the mission, you can upgrade your gear or buy consumables like health potions or arrows. The bulk of the story is told through character dialogue, but there's a library of information within the game. Hidden books and recordings add more detail to the world itself. After each Mission, you return to a 'friendly town' where the resistance is located. This is similar to the settlements in Rage. You can walk around and talk to your allies, get quests, or buy gear from the mechanic. It's rare that a game will let you creatively complete missions, so Dishonored is a treat.

Story: 8/10
The empress is killed and you are framed, and you must rescue the heir and "remove" all of the key political figures of the old regime. You can do this violently or non-violently. It's completely up to you. There's a good ending and a bad ending, complete with modules about all of the NPC's that you've helped... or slain.

World: 8/10
The world is kind of an electric / steam punk / whaler city / that's suffering from a plague that turns people into zombies. It's not even a nice place to visit, but the sounds, game fiction, technology, and art come together nicely to bring this world to life. Is it an amazing world like in Final Fantasy or Mass Effect? No, but all of the pieces blend together and it feels like a real place.

Graphics: 8/10
The graphics are pretty good and the coloring is similar to water colors. The character designs are a bit cartoonish, but they all do their parts. There's quite a bit of attention to detail on the buildings and machinery in the game as well.

Gameplay: 8/10
The Gameplay is Very Fun! Most of the gameplay involves sneaking past enemies and assassinating your targets. You can use magic to see through walls, possess an enemy, slow time, stop time, teleport, perform brutal kills, summon swarms of rats, and knock enemies down with a burst of wind. Your arsenal includes a blade, a pistol, a crossbow with lethal ammo and sleep darts, mines, rewiring tools, and grenades. With these powers and weapons, you can see how many ways you can sneak past or eliminate a curious guard. Possess him and make him jump off of a cliff. Rewire a tesla coil to attack enemies. Place a landmine on the ground and make some noise. Freeze time, catch an enemy grenade, and throw it back. Teleport behind a guard on a rooftop and backstab him. How you complete the missions are completely up to you.

Levels: 9/10
The levels were meticulously designed to give you as many options as possible to get to your target. You can climb drain pipes to get to the roof. You can possess an enemy and walk right in. You can battle your way through the guards. Every Mission will accommodate every play style. And when you reach your target, there is usually a violent or non-violent way to dispose of them.

Player Feedback: FAIL
Dishonored has one HUGE FLAW. It fails to inform the Player how much Chaos they are creating as they are playing. This determines the ending of the game, so if you are into stories, this is the most important information. All you get is a progress report at the end of each level saying: Chaos Level: Low, Medium, or High. If it is Low, you have some leeway, if it is High, you'd better lay off killing for a while. But this isn't enough information and you only get it after the mission is over. As a result, you're actually afraid to kill too many enemies and mostly rely on teleporting and sleep darts. This could have easily been fixed with a gauge or bar, that lets the Player know that they can kill lots of enemies and still get the good ending. It would have also been great if you knew how many guys you could kill before the mission starts, so you can adjust your play style. There were a few times in the game where I was cornered by guards and I let them kill me because I wasn't sure I could fight back without getting the bad ending. Suicide should never be a strategy in games. It breaks immersion and limits tactics.

In the game's defense, it does do a good job at informing you what your powers do when you upgrade them and there's even a paragraph on how best to use those powers. The mission objectives are also very clear and you can see checkpoints through the walls with a meter indicator. If you see Emily 50m, you know that Emily is 50 meters in that direction. So, you never really get lost.

Sound: 9/10
The dialogue and creepy sound effects are good as you're hiding in the shadows and planning your next move.

Maturity: M or Older Teens
There's swearing and gore, and some mild suggestive themes. The story is political and is based on revenge.

Replay Value: 5/10
There are 9 missions and each one will take 1-2 hours depending on your play style. If you want to be stealthy and explore, each level will take twice as long. If you want to attack the enemies, you'll get through the game much faster. There are multiple endings and once you've finished the game, you can quickly get through it again if you want to see the different endings.

Overall: 8/10
This is a very fun game that encourages the Player to be clever. But it discourages them from using their weapons and powers because there's the "fear of the bad ending" always hanging over their heads. If you want a fun, stealth, level based fantasy assassin game, then you should pick this one up. You might want to wait until it's $39.99.

Buy this game if you love being creative as you get past obstacles.
Buy this game if you love stealth games.
Buy this game if you like revenge stories.
Avoid this game if you just want to attack enemies head on and destroy them.
Avoid this game if you have little or no patience.
Avoid this game if you like open ended worlds.

If you liked the stealth elements of this game, check out Batman Arkham Asylum, Batman Arkham City, or Splinter Cell. If you liked the creative weaponry, check out Deus Ex or Bioshock 1 and 2. And if you love assassinations, you'll enjoy the Assassin's Creed series.
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