Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
In steampunk fantasy game Dishonored, the player takes on the role of a deadly assassin who dishes out justice from the shadows while clearing himself of involvement in a royal murder conspiracy.
The premise is fairly simple: Corvo Attano, a former royal bodyguard turned assassin, seeks vengeance against those who have framed him for the murder of the empress and kidnapping of the princess. The visual style of the city of Dunwall, where most of the story takes place, is inspired by the works of Jules Verne, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe, with a little H.P. Lovecraft thrown in.
Helping the player in the quest is a ghostly spectre called the Outsider, who provides runes that offer magical abilities such as time-bending, teleportation, and the possession of animals and people, plus other helpful skills.
Gameplay is straightforward: the character carries a sword in his right hand, while the left hand can be equipped with various supplementary weapons such as pistols, crossbows or grenades, or a host of magical powers.
But what makes the gameplay truly exceptional is the sheer freedom the player has when taking down an enemy. You can sneak up on him from behind and either kill him with a sword or choke him unconscious. However, it's the magical abilities that make things really fun.
Using the teleport skill, the player can zip in for a fast takedown, or use the time-bending ability to plant a bomb next to the target, exit the room and watch through a keyhole as the target is blown to bits. The player can even take control of a pack of rats, which will attack and devour an enemy.
The story is well crafted and full of interesting characters that add another level of enjoyment to the game. Voices are provided by big names such as Susan Sarandon and Carrie Fisher, and many characters are so well written and engaging that the player actually wants to interact with them.
Dishonored excels on every level: there's great storytelling, gorgeous artwork and robust gameplay that all come together to create arguably the best game to hit store shelves in the past six months.