"Dishonored" is a captivating, first-person action/adventure title from the team at Arkane Studios. It puts a great deal of control at your fingertips and allows you to play however you wish, though there are consequences if you wish to get dirty.
"Dishonored" takes place in the city of Dunwall, a location similar to 1850's London, but with some futuristic Steampunk ambience, including prison cells that use electrical fields instead of bars to confine their captives. You're Corvo, bodyguard to the city's Empress, loyal to her in every way possible and charged with keeping a close eye on her daughter, Emily.
One day, shadowy assassins ambush you, killing the Empress and snatching Emily. The city's government immediately blames you for the murder and jails you, but thanks to the help of a small resistance, you break free and set out to right the wrongs.
Your skill set is vast, as you can draw on both physical and magical abilities. With the help of a sword and crossbow (along with various types of ammunition, including fire-spewing incendiaries), you can really put a hurt on royal guards that stand in your way. And thanks to a strange being known only as the Outsider, you have access to a variety of magic powers, including Blink, which enables you to teleport from place to place, and Possession, which grants you control over any creature for a short time, whether it's a security guard or a small rat.
"Dishonored" isn't just another first-person shooter. You can play in a number of ways. If you're the action-gamer type, you can charge in and kill everyone using your capabilities, though there's a price to pay. More alarms are raised, and the conditions surrounding Dunwall worsen, with more rats and plague-stricken citizens standing in your way. Likewise, you can take a stealthy approach, though that slows the pace of the game significantly. Only the truly dedicated will get through the entire game without killing anyone – though it is possible.
"Dishonored's" gameplay is nothing short of splendid, as you have so much at your fingertips and a number of ways to get your job done. There are hours’ worth of gameplay here, especially if you set out to find all the hidden goodies, including Rune Bones that can expand your powers.
The presentation is truly breathtaking. The city of Dunwall is a magnificent place, with plenty of areas to explore and lowlifes to put in their place. The animations are beautiful, even if you're engaging in a brutal act, like shoving a knife into someone's gullet. Likewise, the audio is impressive, featuring some strong voice acting (keep an ear open for Susan Sarandon and Carrie Fisher) and quality sound effects.
"Dishonored" is a bit difficult to get into at first, and you'll learn – the hard way – that these guards won't take it easy on you. That said, the more you get into it and adapt to your own play style, the better it gets. Revenge has never been this sweet.
"Dishonored" is available this Tuesday (Oct. 9) for $60 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.