Polygon 2012 Games of the Year #2: Dishonored

You've been betrayed and your love is dead. A little girl is depending on you to come to her rescue and a kingdom is counting on you to become its protector. In Dishonored, you are Corvo, the former bodyguard of the former Empress, in a world filled with plague, magic, intrigue and whale oil-powered machines.

It would be inaccurate to say that there has never been a game like Dishonored. There have been a few, and the veteran creators at Arkane Studios have been behind most of them. But Dishonored is easily their masterpiece.

In an industry plagued by endless sequels, military shooters and uninspired copies of other games, Dishonored, for all of its bleak, post-apocalyptic steampunk flair, comes as a breath of fresh air. Inspired by classic stealth games like Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Arx Fatalis, Deus Ex and Thief (games made by Dishonored's creators), but nevertheless surprisingly unique, Dishonored is the kind of game very few thought would ever be made again: An original, stealth action-based first-person game with a deep, character-driven narrative and meaningful moral choices.

As you sneak or fight your way to the heart of the game's many mysteries, your path is yours to make. Each goal can be accomplished in various ways. You can be a killer or a savior; an avenger or a protector. Yet no matter which path you choose, you will be reminded that choices have consequences. You may kill if that is expedient, but the more you do so, the more terrible the world becomes, more infested with rats and more difficult (or challenging) to traverse. Although the less violent choices may not always be any more palatable.

No matter which path you choose, you will be reminded that choices have consequences.

From the fine art-inspired artistic direction, to the Hollywood quality voice acting, to the suspenseful narrative and innovative level design and play mechanics, it is a game elevated to work of art. With it's subtle design touches and layered narrative and play mechanics, Dishonored is a reminder that although games may be more expensive and more complex to make, they should nevertheless continue to strive for quality.

That the team at Arkane was able to create such a throw-back in the modern games industry is enough of an achievement to warrant attention. That they were able to do so and make it great is deserving of a spot on our Games of the Year list.

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