Being a supernatural assassin does have its perks: awesome and potentially deadly supernatural powers, vicious-looking weapons and, of course, the ability to sneak past pretty much anything. If that’s not enough for you, Dishonored offers much more than just a super-assassin protagonist. The vast industrial city of Dunwall, the unique setting and memorable characters, not to mention the fun and exciting gameplay, will keep drawing you back into the rich world of Dishonored, even after the first playthrough.

Corvo Attano, our throat-slicing, magic-wielding protagonist, is out on a mission of personal revenge. After taking the fall for a political murder he didn’t commit, Corvo escapes imprisonment and joins forces with a group of powerful individuals in search of justice and political stability – the kind of stability that can only be achieved by killing a whole lot of people. Corvo’s unique set of skills (and newly acquired superpower), make him the perfect candidate for those high-profile assassinations, and he soon finds himself traveling all around the great city of Dunwall, engaging in all sorts of unsavory activities (that mainly involve maiming).

The story of Corvo himself doesn’t really go too far beyond his quest for vengeance. There are a few twists along the way, but they can be seen a mile away, and won’t really catch anyone off guard. But while the main plot doesn’t really do this complex game justice, it’s the developed (some might say a bit cluttered) background stories that really make the story shine. The world of Dishonored is full of stuff happening all around the player all at once, some have to do directly with his actions, while some are just there to add to the game’s incredible atmosphere. Ravenous plague-carrying rats roam the dark streets of the city while watchmen harass and abuse the poor; the rich, protected by their whale oil powered electric walls, plan fancy parties while mad doctors experiment on the unlucky once infected by the deadly disease; street gangs fight zombie-like infected in the streets while in the sewers below magical being sacrifice the living for food and power. There is simply a lot going on in each level of the game, and exploring the dark corners of the beautiful Dunwall is a must for anyone who wants to get the most out of Dishonored.

Exploration doesn’t just reward the player with extra content or side missions. It is the only way of finding runes or bone charms that enhance and upgrade Corvo’s supernatural abilities. These little objects are scattered around the level urging the player to think of clever ways of using Corvo’s powers to reach them. Gathering Runes works toward unlocking new devastating powers and upgrading the ones you already have. Bone charms can be equipped for assorted boosts and helpful perks. If you are looking for a more material gain, getting off the beaten track and exploring the surroundings is a good way of finding valuable items and cold hard cash. The money is then used to purchase new items and ammo between missions, or even upgrade Corvo’s weapons and equipment.

And these weapons are something you’d want to invest in, especially if you want to enjoy the whole “assassin” part of supernatural assassin. Apart from Corvo’s vicious knife, he also sports a stealthy crossbow and a pistol, each with different ammo types for the sneaky or lethal player (the incendiary bullets for the pistol are especially fun). Along with grenades and trip mines that explode in a cloud of dismembering barbwire, Corvo is packing enough firepower to take down a small army of very unlucky guards.

Completing Corvo’s arsenal are his new supernatural powers. You start with the ability to “Blink” – teleport for short distance, but after some upgrading, you’ll be able to possess rats and even people, see through walls, turn enemies to ash or blow them away with a powerful gust of wind.

Admittedly, the more devastating powers are much more fun to use. Turning a guard into a small pile of ashes in a heck of a lot more satisfying than simply sneaking pass him, but the game seems to reward the more cautious players – the ones who always choose the non-lethal approach. Killing your way through a mission, be it in open combat or just using Corvo’s impressive arsenal, will cause the city’s chaos levels to rise, resulting in more guards patrolling the streets and more rats and infected infesting the back alleys. It is a weird dichotomy between the gameplay and the settings, and it feels like the game is punishing you for having fun.

Dishonored is at its best when sending the player into a closed off environment to hunt down a target by any means he sees fit. Lurking in the shadows or up in the rafters, waiting for a guard to pass by (or to walk into a trap) feels immensely empowering, not to mention the sense of accomplishment you get after taking down your target without it even knowing you were there. Corvo is first and foremost a predator, and a resourceful one at that; Dishonored offers the player a lot of freedom to experiment with different combinations of powers and weapons, and choose his favorite way of traversing each mission. This freedom is a little compromised in later levels, when things become a little too linear and frankly a bit frustrating.

Whether you’re in it for the kill and the thrill of the hunt or for the challenge of a methodically executed stealthy playthrough, Dishonored has got you covered. Exploring the gorgeously rundown city of Dunwall and listening to the great voice cast (which includes some great talents) is one of the best aspects of the game, right after the rewarding gameplay and sense of freedom. It may suffer towards the end, when the game’s mechanics start to spread a little too thin, but even the most judgmental gamer will have to respect this diverse and rich experience.

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