IN the twelve months since its initial release, Dishonored remains at the vanguard of the stealth action genre. Arkane Studios deservedly won praise for creating arguably the most accomplished new intellectual property since Bioshock.
Dishonored Game of the Year Edition - Xbox 360 (reviewed) / Playstation 3 / PC
Score: 8.8 / 10
It cannily borrowed from other triple A behemoths - even wielding the talents of staff who worked on Half Life 2 and Deux Ex - while providing the bold and the new. A Game of The Year edition released by Bethesda to mark the anniversary serves as a timely reminder of its many qualities.
Assuming the role of Covo Attano, a royal bodyguard, you embark on a quest for revenge after the empress under your protection is assassinated. The plot and the character motivations are well-worn, but the greatest success of Dishonored is in allowing players to chart their own path towards an elusive justice. With the honorable exception of titles like Red Dead Redemption, the concept of choice and divergent narrative routes is often an empty promise in gaming, granting players primitive options revolving around moral opposites. In Dishonored, this undeveloped mechanic blossoms into something special, offering at any time the option of brute force, furtiveness or sorcery.
The first option is the most tempting thanks to an abundance of satisfying weaponry marrying design and execution sublimely. Not only does Covo’s upgradable arsenal look striking, it is deployed with a vicious satisfaction. The crossbow and the spring razor deserve a mention, but the humble blades at his disposal are the goriest deterrents to a more cerebral excursion through the world of Dunwell. Each approach has its own advantages and outcomes, although difficulties in establishing whether nearby enemies are aware of your presence frustrates those intent on discretion.
From foreboding architecture to scurrying vermin, the wrought dystopia is exquisitely realised by Arkane - largely thanks to visual design director Viktor Antonov, who based some of his artwork and sketches on Edinburgh’s old town - presenting a tumultuous land of oppression and strife. The design of the game is so all-embracing, at times it leaves you wondering if the city and its sorry souls deserve redemption, given the disease and desolation infecting every nook.
Packaged with a generous assortment of DLC - The Brigmore Witches, The Knife of Dunwall, Dunwall City Trials, and Void Walker’s Arsenal - the new edition is a treat for those who let Dishonored slip by first time around. At the end of this generation of consoles, it is a great composite of established mechanics, as well as a strikingly singular example of how games can offer a variety of complimentary playing styles within a harmonious design.