A stealthy action game that lets you choose your own approach
The computer games industry loves its sequels and it's not hard to see why; they're almost guaranteed crowd pleasers that are also cheaper and easier to produce. However, every so often a brand new original title will appear out of nowhere and take everyone by surprise. Dishonored is precisely this type of uncommon treat.
Dishonored is a first-person game set in a plague-ridden steampunk mash up of Victorian London and Edinburgh. You are Corvo, a formerly trusted royal bodyguard landed with the blame of brutally murdering the Empress early on in the story. The rest of the game sees you exacting your revenge on those who did you wrong, whilst attempting to overturn the military dictatorship that has seized the throne.
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Quite how you go about this is largely up to you. The game is split into several distinct missions, each with a primary aim that usually involves infiltrating a well-guarded environment and assassinating a particular villain. However, while it is possible to storm in and start blowing people away with your flintlock pistol, the game also encourages more creative strategies for achieving your goal. Sneaking around soon becomes second nature and it's usually possible to avoid lethal violence altogether.
Early on you are provided with the facility to cultivate a series of special powers and you can choose to specialise in those that favour different types of gameplay. For example, you can boost your attack strength with adrenaline or choose the ability to ‘possess' creatures such as rats and fishes in order to reach secret areas and sneak past unsuspecting guards.
Not since the excellent Bioshock have we played an action game that feels as fresh, thoughtful and well presented as Dishonored. It's a gripping adventure set in a highly imaginative universe peppered with unusual characters and a luscious design style that oozes both decadence and decay in equal measure.
Our one small quibble about Dishonored is its relative lack of replayability. There's no multiplayer mode and once you have finished the main campaign, there's little else to keep you playing other than tackling the missions themselves again using an alternative strategy.
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A rare original title with high production values and a lot of thought behind it - Dishonored is easily one of the most thrilling action games of the year.
Beautiful art style; Thoughtful gameplay
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