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PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Arkane Studios Official Site:
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Classification: MA15+
Release Date:
11th October 2012
Dishonored Review
Review By @ 03:00pm 08/10/12
Forget Dishonored’s myriad gameplay systems that empower you to forge your own rebellious destiny. Forget its stunning level design and massive, open gameplay arenas that let you toy with the aforementioned like a kid in some kind of store. And forget the unbelievable art-direction littered about the dank, rustic city of Dunwall. Forget it all.

Because Dishonored’s true heart -- its true self -- is revealed in the not-so-subtle tales of Dunwall’s robbed-of-all hope denizens; its citizens whose dark days (and nights) are the very soul of what you become, be it mass murderer or righteous hero of the Empire.

No matter how you play the game, their soul-crushing stories of plague, fascist rule and death will never be forgotten, and it’s in this pace-as-you-please exposition that Dishonored truly shines, not because it’s an engrossing way to draw the player into the game, but because it’s absolute proof Arkane are backing the heck out of their new IP.

Most of this “backstory” is handed to you in the form of notes, diaries, books, songs, graffiti and more (or visually thanks to Dunwall’s corpse-riddled streets and alleys), but every so often you’ll also have the opportunity to interact -- on a gameplay level -- with this aspect of the active story, and it’s in these moments Arkane empower you to take note of change and of despair, and how at the centre of both extremes you exist as a tool, not at all unlike those given to you on an abilities spectrum within the game, for the greater good.

A lot of players couldn't care less about a game’s story -- I know many of our core readers aren’t usually too fussed about context, but it cannot go understated how much effort and passion has been poured into Dishonored’s game-world. There’s rich narrative, beyond that at-hand, here for the story-centric players out there, but amidst tales of whaling, witchcraft and revolt, Dishonored is still very much a videogame, and it delivers on that plane in absolute spades.

It’s probably easiest, from the outset, to give you the requisite comparisons for contextual purposes. In every review of this game you read, these will appear almost like a checklist, but it’s important to lay a foundation given this is new waters for everyone, which in itself is an important point I’ll touch on shortly. Thief, Deus Ex and BioShock - those three games could very easily sum up for you the types of situations and opportunities you’ll be faced with in Dishonored, and yet levelled by the aforementioned narrative construct, any components it harbours from those games is left to “homage” rather than “borrow”, because it’ll conjure familiarity for most, but on the whole everything is delivered in such a grounded way, it all becomes the property of the Dishonored universe.

That you’re attempting to find a missing heiress to a throne you once protected so dearly, while also clearing your tarnished name, is as important as how many Runes you collect in each level to gain access to new abilities to further your sandbox experience. Nothing in Dishonored feels tacked on, and I could ramble for hours about the RPG components of the game, if they felt RPG, but they don’t, instead they feel Dishonored. And that is where this game shines. As a new IP there are always uphill battles, proof of which lies in the fact that 90-plus-percent of the videogame releases this year are ‘sequels’ (half of which actually don’t carry on any specific franchise narrative, such as Far Cry 3), but the whole delivery across the gaming spectrum with Dishonored is polished beyond belief. The game paces itself to absolute perfection, giving you the choice very early on to decide how you’ll take on the game.

Where other titles of a similar nature handfeed you gameplay tools built to tackle level specifics, Dishonored simply gives you one, and then the ability (or know-how) to empower yourself with the others in any order you see fit. This “choice” alone could be used as a metaphor for the whole experience, but then I’d be doing a disservice to everything else on offer, and while I’m clearly glowing like a container of Whale Oil over the game, it’s also not without its faults.

For one, the predictable AI and their easily-observed routines are something I feel the team could have worked on a bit more. I’m also not a big fan of the menu system or HUD design. The font when reading any notes is also something that felt a bit lacking, and let down so much of the rest of the work put into bringing the game-world to life (the paintings and portraits throughout are absolutely breathtaking). Failing missions was also a hard-fail situation, which is an area that could have added to overall “choices” component of the game, and some of the bottlenecks and Checkpoints were equally frustrating. But not a single one of these minuses for me broke the experience.

It’s difficult to convey how the game works without spoiling some of the surprises the team have in-store, but rest assured that while in the lead up to release Arkane has been staunch on reminding you this is not an open-world game, its level-by-level mission structure is better described as sandbox-by-sandbox (the first proper “mission” can take more than three hours to get through), and the exploration value added to these massive arenas is driven not only by the heavily touted story component I mentioned, but also by loot (driven by crafting), the aforementioned Runes (and Bone Charms which are active buffs), side-quests and sub-missions, and the levels themselves.

It’s almost maddening, from an adoration of the narrative point-of-view, that you can go in and replay missions to your heart’s content upon their completion, like Dishonored were some old-school videogame, but it would also be a crime to let the heart poured into each mission for path variation and player-choice go unexplored and unexploited -- it’s honestly that good.

I’ve avoided spoiling the story for you as best I can, and even some of the gameplay set-pieces that are actually important to understanding the experience, because Dishonored is a game that needs to be experienced on an individual level. It’s a bold entry into the cluttered gaming world, and takes a chance on the idea that as art, games can draw you in to amazing and promising worlds full of adventure and potential. Like its homaged brothers mentioned earlier, it's a rare kind of game that waltzes into a field of debonaire company yet wows the room regardless. You may not know much of his past or even what his intentions are, but you’ll be damned if you don’t let him take you for a spin around the room. And at the end of your dance, he’ll leave you dizzy and giddy, wanting only for more.

One of this generation’s best efforts.
What we liked
  • A fully realised game-world with rich (and dark) backstory for the story-lovers out there
  • Freedom or choice offers each player a unique way to play the game
  • Some of the best level-design in the business to accompany the above
  • Amazing art-direction
  • Creative and fun gameplay systems to toy with in any combination you like
What we didn't like
  • Non-Player Character animations are a bit stiff
  • AI can be predictable and more often than not use the same routines
  • Hard-fail scenarios could have been handled better to create a more organic flow or outcome to each mission
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 03:58pm 08/10/12
cant wait
Posted 04:04pm 08/10/12
It looks interesting, but the Australian mark-up kills it for me.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 04:24pm 08/10/12
dang, I should have posted something before rav, just to have three Frys in a row :)
Posted 04:30pm 08/10/12
cool might grab it off GMG (for $45) if their 25% off is still running.

Posted 04:32pm 08/10/12
He broke the combo. :O
Posted 04:33pm 08/10/12
Three Frys in a row, what an odd day.

Definitely looking forward to this, been keen on a good ol' fashion open choice RPG, and with artwork style similar to Half-Life 2 its an added bonus.
Posted 05:44pm 08/10/12
I put effort into that, I'm just sad that nobody picked up the ball. :P
Posted 05:50pm 08/10/12
Have a boxed copy on order from ozgameshop. I'm happy with the $41 I paid.
Posted 06:29pm 08/10/12
Posted 07:26pm 08/10/12
$41 is much better :) anything over 50 is a rip off
Posted 08:53pm 08/10/12
looks awesome.
$41 is good. but when do you normally receive your copy? a couple days after release...a week or two?. i paid $79 on steam, but its preloaded and i can play as soon as its released. thats how i justify paying the extra $ even thou we are getting ripped in aus.
Posted 06:25pm 09/10/12
Normally receive my stuff from Ozgameshop within 10-14 business days. For the money I'm saving it's worth it, I got plenty of games to play for the next 10 days I'm not going to miss out on much.
Posted 06:33pm 09/10/12
you can get a cd key from greenman for $45. They send you the key instantly - just need to download the game through steam, I was able to pre-load this time.
Posted 06:57pm 09/10/12
US$80 = fail.
Do not want
Posted 09:44pm 09/10/12
I have only done 5-10 minutes max and I'm already enjoying it. Has an amazing Half-Life 2, Thief and BioShock feel to it which I really love.
Posted 10:09pm 09/10/12
Thief and BioShock are two of my favourites, you are a temptress.
Posted 11:10pm 09/10/12
Thief and BioShock are two of my favourites, you are a temptress.

It really makes me hope the Thief devs see this and really make Thief 4 more awesome.
Posted 12:05am 10/10/12
Thief, Bioshock, Half-Life 2, rich and detailed story - shut up and take my money!! It's £30 on UK Steam ($46AUD).
Posted 01:50am 10/10/12
These guys also made Dark Messiah, which I thought was totally awesome despite reviews bashing it, so I'm looking forward to playing this
Posted 02:11am 10/10/12
These guys also made Dark Messiah, which I thought was totally awesome

The combat definitely looks interesting, puts Skyrim to shame several years earlier. :/

Looking at the company, they also made Arx Fatalis, which was a pretty amazing game. I played through most of it sometime in the last few years.
Posted 09:27am 10/10/12
yeah i loved dark messiah.
Posted 04:38pm 11/10/12
It's good, very very good so far. Reminiscent of the gripping immersion of Thief, of which I am a massive fan.
Posted 04:48pm 11/10/12
Is it really heavy on stealth like Thief? Cos I'm not a big fan of games that are all about stealth, I usually end up getting bored with them. I really liked the atmosphere and the world of the Thief games, but I never ended up getting very far in them cos I ended up getting annoyed at the gameplay, I think I'm just too impatient to play really stealth heavy games :(

This is getting tonnes of good reviews though and I was thinking of picking it up, but not if its going to be something I only end up playing for a few hours and shelve away.
Nerf Lord
Posted 04:58pm 11/10/12
You could play a pretty crazy assassin in the thief games, it's how I used to play until I learned to appreciate the 'being a ghost' style of play (which can get annoying tbh). Which was why I thought that the Thief 3 team were idiots for removing the sword and replacing it with the 'noisy blackjack' dagger. Sword fights were great.
Posted 05:05pm 11/10/12
My impressions of Dark Messiah were a bit like Metro 2033 and Mirror's Edge - there's not a bad game underneath there, if you can push past the annoying tendency of the FPS camera point of view being frequently grabbed away from the player.
Posted 05:09pm 11/10/12
I read this review not knowing a thing about what Dishonored was about.

Other than the fact it makes someone happy in the pants I still have no idea what the game is about.
Posted 05:12pm 11/10/12
Is it really heavy on stealth like Thief? Cos I'm not a big fan of games that are all about stealth, I usually end up getting bored with them. I really liked the atmosphere and the world of the Thief games, but I never ended up getting very far in them cos I ended up getting annoyed at the gameplay, I think I'm just too impatient to play really stealth heavy games :(This is getting tonnes of good reviews though and I was thinking of picking it up, but not if its going to be something I only end up playing for a few hours and shelve away.

You can literally do whatever you want in your approach to objectives. Most of the time there is three obvious ways, stealth around and avoid everything, kill everything or stealth and take out key guards/people. You don't have to be sneaky and you can change it up, however different endings are rewarded for different methods.
Posted 05:34pm 11/10/12
played through a few hours trying to be stealthy and being nice to people, got tired of being f***ed over. from now on i kill everyone in sight!
Posted 05:41pm 11/10/12
I'm having an absolute blast in this. I love it. I'm playing the stealth route on hard, only killing what I can't avoid, knocking people out to hide bodies and ghosting the rest. When I figured out though that you can Blink past people who are looking off to the side (enough to get their attention if you walk straight past them) though things got simpler for me and was able to take some otherwise messy routes past people.
Nerf Lord
Posted 06:09pm 11/10/12
This game better go on sale somewhere at some point for cheaper than it currently is, as missing release date means that I've committed to a sale or never.
Posted 12:10am 12/10/12
greenman have it for $59.99 and there's a valid 25% off code on their blog at the moment, comes to USD$45.
Nerf Lord
Posted 12:41am 12/10/12
I meant cheaper than that. :P
Posted 01:04am 12/10/12
nerf lord? more like scrooge lord
Posted 08:17am 15/10/12
I have gone though most of the game and I have to say I am impressed overall. I liked the story and setting for the game, characters are good also.

Some things they could have added in like rifles. Does this nation only use 1-4 shot pistol for everything. Assassins only use the hand x-bow. Some more abilities would be cool.

I give this game 8.5 - 9/10
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