Initially, Dishonored seems like a rather simple game. The story is rushed to get you straight to the action, and a vast majority of the game is, “Take down this target, uh . . . because,” rather than a tangible investment in their demise. The story truly lies with your choices. The more you're seen and the more people you kill, the higher the city's level of chaos. By the end, have you left a sea of bodies in your wake or did you find a way to spare everyone? Let me tell you, it's not easy to knock a guy out right after he's set you on fire. These different ways to play are well tied into the trophy/achievement system, giving the game plenty of replayability for achievement hunters.
What makes Dishonored's gameplay unique is its use of magic. The player character has abilities bestowed upon him such as the ability to teleport, possess animals and people, and bend time to his will. I didn't get the chance to play with all of these powers, but the ones I used were an incredible amount of fun and changed how I played the game. Being able to teleport from the rafters to strike a target and bamf back up again is immensely satisfying, and there's nothing like freezing time and firing bullets at foes or snatching them straight out of the air before starting the clock again. These abilities do break the game, leading to some really easy assassinations once you find a way to your target, but that's the real trick; this isn't a game about fighting, it's a game about your overall approach and how creatively you can use the abilities the game has given you.
I wasn't a fan of the look of Dishonored. The setting is a wacky blend of steampunk, fantasy, and, well, everything else. It stays true to its own aesthetic, but it was too bland, dark, and grim for my taste. Some of the characters are fun, but for the most part expect tried and true stereotypes to inhabitant this world. Even the protagonist is voiceless and lacking any character of his own. Compared to other series that features assassins, this is Dishonored's biggest weakness. I didn't really care about the outcome of these characters' lives, I just wanted to jump into the next area, so I can bamf around and take out some more guards.
Presentation: 7.0, Story: 7.5, Gameplay: 9.5 Overall: 8.0