Dishonored Review: More Deus Ex than Deus Ex: Human Revolution


Dishonored was released in October of last year and quickly became the best-selling original game (non-sequel/remake) of 2012. Many will recognize the publisher Bethesda, known mostly for their more current Elder Scrolls games. You most-likely have never heard of the developer, though. Arkane Studios is best known for many cancelled projects and the designed levels for Bioshock 2. While Dishonored isn’t their first game, it is their first console game in about six years. Did they make a good game or just a decent one? Well, read on to find out.

In Dishonored, you play as Corvo Attano, Lord Protector of the Empress. After the prologue, Corvo is imprisoned and awaiting his execution, but that would lead to a boring game. So Corvo escapes and finds himself in a strange new place. You then become an assassin with the sole duty to bring down the Spymaster of the Empire by taking out everyone close to him. You can either murder them or find other ways to dispose of them.

The gameplay is quite good, in some ways it feels like a Bethesda game, but steps were taken so that it didn’t just feel like a clone. The magic in this game is different than Oblivion and there is much less of it. Jumping onto ledges and avoiding being seen is also done well, though sometimes the game does glitch to where you’ll climb the ledge and then fall through. That minor inconvenience can be made worse if you fall to your death or you give away your position to guards. You do get perks for not being seen, so if you’re going for that, you might pull out some hair from this. That was really my only problem with the gameplay, and for many it might never happen in your game.

The game has no character customization, which in an age when you can adjust a character’s butt-size seems a little odd. I mean both game changing butt-size and games with no customization seem odd. Editing characters is always great because it makes the gaming experience more personal. You see your guy’s, or girl’s, face and you know that you created that. That doesn’t happen here, but it makes perfect sense why; you never see your character’s face, other than in pictures. The thing that bothers me a little more though, is the lack of weapon modification. Sure, you can upgrade accuracy and clip size, but it just feels like more could have been done to make your weapons better.

The stealth in this game is really well done, maybe the best in recent years. The guards have a pretty realistic area of vision, though it’s not as accurate as in real life as I’m sure they would see a dude standing on a ledge six feet above their head. But then again, this is a video game and it would probably be terrible if they spotted you every five minutes. Another great thing is that you can pretty much play this game 10 times and do something differently each time. You can go through the front door, the window and even sometimes a pipe that takes you into the sewers. Now these are obviously just examples, it’s not like that’s the only three ways into every level. Each level is pretty unique and well done. It doesn’t feel like they just copied and pasted the same template for each level, which has become common in games, especially RPG’s.

Many of you might remember 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which is a prequel to the classic Deus Ex games that many know and love. While that game received critical acclaim, it was often criticized for the fact that there were bosses that you kill, which I believe occur in cut-scenes. In a series known for not needing to kill, it was sad to know there were times where your character was forced to. My memory is a bit hazy on that game, so I might not be 100% correct about the cut-scene killing. So I have good new for Deus Ex fans. While it might be tough, you can go through Dishonored without spilling any blood. Crazy, I know!


The game really created a wonderful world. There are so many well thought out characters and there are two conflicting political factions. You can find out more about the world by reading books and journals that are scattered across the levels. There are also beautiful paintings that sometimes contain clues and audio scripts that further expand this world. Through dialogue, you find out about the character’s relationships and a heart can tell you their deepest, darkest secrets. That last part probably only makes sense to people that played the game. I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who haven’t yet played it.

Probably my favorite thing is the fact that you don’t quite know Corvo’s relationship with the Empress. What I mean is, there are several references to how close the two are, but no one ever goes out and says what the extent of that relationship is. Are they lovers? Friends? Or just a bodyguard and an Empress? You can draw your own conclusions, though I’m pretty sure we all share the same idea of what their relationship was.

My biggest problem with the game is the length. I beat this game in under 12 hours, which I played straight through. The game is probably less than 12 hours as I occasionally ate and watched a bit of television. While I’ve played shorter games, I still am disappointed by the length. They are releasing DLC, which will make owners happy, but I rented the game and I would be unwilling to even pay the $10 or $15 for the Downloadable Content. Apparently, Bethesda is looking to make this a franchise, but I’m unsure if it work well. They have a great world set up, but sometimes a great world isn’t enough.

An example of a great first game, but poor second, would be the Dragon Age franchise. Dragon Age: Origins set up an amazing world, had good gameplay and great characters. The sequel continued to expand upon the world, and the characters and gameplay were decent but the game lacked the passion of the first one. The original was epic and the sequel felt as if it was being made because they were forced to, which they sort of were. I fear this would happen with Dishonored, which might just be a good stand-alone game that doesn’t require a series of sequels that drag the good memories down.

As far as 2012 is concerned, this and Sleeping Dogs made it one of my favorite years in terms of gaming. I love new games, and while I don’t look forward to a sequel, I did enjoy this game.

This is a review of the Xbox 360 version.

Available Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360


What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. To be honest, I thought the storyline of the game was pretty basic and there were some issues with the general storytelling.

  2. Joe C

    One ‘issue’ I found with Dishonored was that the world was so dense, so wonderfully conceived, that I just couldn’t face diving into it again for another playthrough. Even now, the idea of playing through the main campaign again is a daunting proposition (normally I play through games like DE and Dishonored as stealth/pacifist, and try other approaches on subsequent plays). It’s a shame, because I really did love it.

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