- The Washington Times - Monday, October 22, 2012

A wrongly accused warrior seeks revenge with help from a sword and aggressive vermin in the stealthy first-person adventure Dishonored (Bethesda Softworks and Arkane Studios, reviewed for Xbox 360, rated Mature, $59.99).

A creepy, emotional story takes the player through the late 17th century-inspired fictional industrial city of Dunwall, now under an oppressive regime of Lord Regent Hiram Burrows after the murder of its beloved Empress Jessamine Kaldwin.

Within a land ravaged by plague, twinged by the mystical, fueled by whale oil and suffocated by religious dogma, a solo gamer takes on the role of the empress’ former bodyguard, the part-time assassin Corvo Attano who is accused of her death.

His escape from prison to search for the empress’ kidnapped daughter and root out the conspirators takes the role-playing fan on missions around the city as this masked avenger (Dr. Doom would envy his face covering).

To touch on the complexity of assignments, let’s take the case of eliminating the High Overseer Thaddeus Campbell holed up in his heavily guarded compound.

Fight with a sword and pistol in the video game Dishonored.
Fight with a sword and pistol in the video game Dishonored. more >

I sneaked in through a drain pipe to the main mansion, past the kennels, quietly killing low-level overseers through the use of a crossbow bolt and folding blade. I orchestrated his demise by poisoning wine and watched him die before throwing his body behind a screen to not alert his guards.

While his city watch officer Captain Curnow was stunned and looking on in disbelief, I simply shot him with a sleep dart and, as requested by the caring daughter, carried and place Mr. Curnow in a safe spot (a trash bin outside the gates of the compound) to live another day and hopefully align with the loyalists.

I actually then went back into the now-on-high alert compound to find the high overseer’s secret room and pilfer its riches.

For those who prefer the ways of violence, they will find themselves deep in the bloodied carcasses of foes, often skewed and or decapitated by the point of Corvo’s sword, diced by his use of the diabolic spring-razor traps (proximity mines), shot point-blank range or chewed to bits by an ever-burgeoning rat population.

Watching the voracious pack of pests devour the flesh off bodies (stay far away or also become a victim) is a hypnotic as well as truly disturbing experience.

The gruesome choices by the player increases his chaos ranking and guarantees more evil spreads, such as more encounters with the eye-bleeding, toxic-goo-puking Weepers, across Dunwall.

Amidst teleporting assassins, sharp-toothed hounds, fire-spitting thugs, flesh-and-bone dissolving Walls of Light, acid-spitting river krusts and armored guards perched atop tall mechanical legs, our hero executes his assassinations, plans his escapes and fights for survival.

A player also can take an easier route to complete any mission by simply using the sewers, waterways, rooftops and extreme stealth paths to get past most enemies, even sneaking up behind them and applying a knock-out chokehold to avoid confrontation.

Intriguing characters help and hinder Corvo along the way and send him on side jobs to keep the player satisfyingly busy and never bored within the somber, multipathed storylines.

For example, Granny Rags needs help poisoning the distillery with infected rat viscera (rewards are plenty), rescue the merchant Griff from the Bottle Street Gang to purchase items or free prisoners to learn the combination of a safe and collect some cash.

Story Continues →