This is partly due to the consequence system. How you act makes a difference to Dishonored’s world, and such is the level of detail that you really do care what happens. Characters react differently depending on how vicious and bloodthirsty you are, forking the plot in different directions as the city around you changes. Behave like Vlad the Impaler and all that that will be left of Dunwall is decaying streets, rats and shuffling plague victims. The endings range from merely dark with a glimmer of future hope to downright apocalyptic, just because you couldn't resist slitting one more guard's throat.
Dishonored's production values are sky-high. Dunwall is a beautiful but decaying island city, whose Victorian-style buildings contrast with the encroaching steel walls deployed by the quasi-fascist government to try to stem the spread of plague. The city has real depth and a vast amount of detail, and each time you wander through another street you see something new. The cell-shaded graphics are lovingly animated and the voice acting first-class, but some low-resolution textures on the Xbox version show Microsoft's console is showing its age. The PC version should be better, but the poor textures are only noticeable occasionally and when the game has just loaded - textures have a habit of popping in after a second or two.
The amount of detail in the world also draws you in. It's faster-paced than Fallout or Skyrim, so you're not drowning in lore, but there's enough incidental detail to immerse you in a world where the economy is built entirely on harvesting the oil from mystical whales and the dominant religion exists purely to suppress the spiritualism bubbling beneath the city's technological and hierarchical fabric.
It all adds up to make Dishonored the best game we've played all year; an exciting, dark adventure which will take ten hours to finish and leave you wanting to dive right back in.
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