Imagine if everyone from every succesful game studio on the planet came together and said "right, let's make a game." The concoction they would create would look a bit like Dishonored.
It's pretty clear from the starting sequence that this game has been made by a rather talented bunch of people. How it, after the introductory sequence, simply thrusts a sword in your hand shows just how ambitious the creators of this game were.
The story, albeit not brilliant and quite predictable, is interesting and occasionally grabs your attention. However it isn't the story you'll want to sink your teeth into, but the setting. The steampunk-esque world Corvo inhabits is brilliantly put together and constantly demands your attention. Books fill you in on quite substantial amounts of genuinely interesting background story, while conversations pertaining to the world around you are quite often overheard.
Moving on, Dishonored's art style is incredible. The art director for the game won a BAFTA for outstanding art direction, and it shows. It looks as if Bioshock Infinite met Deus Ex and decided to have a baby, and then that baby then copulated with Half Life's City 17. It's superb.
I liked the graphics. A lot of people are saying that the graphics look "outdated" - first of all, that is untrue. The graphics are reasonably good for a 2012 title - the game uses the Unreal engine - but the fact that the graphics aren't outstandingly good is countered by the extraordinary artistic design. The game looks like an oil painting. (Practically every texture is hand painted) The lighting is sublime, and the fact that every location, from the grimy corpse ridden streets to the massive steel fortresses to the insides of the regal Victorian era houses, looks so beautifully hand crafted is enough to make this game one of the best looking games of the year.
But what really shines above all is the level design. If you've heard that finding alternate pathways in this game is a bit like DX:HR then you'd be completely incorrect. The game doesn't just provide you with a series of vents; it provides you with practically endless alternatives. Every one of the 9 levels is basically a sandbox, so exploring them is fun and rewarding.
The problem with games nowadays is that developers want gamers to see everything they've made, providing you with few, if any, alternate pathways to completing a mission. With Dishonored, it's as if the developers didn't really care about you seeing anything they'd made - every time I went through a mission I'd find a completely different path, even if I was certain I'd found every nook and cranny there was to be found in my first play through.
The gameplay is phenomenal. Corvo moves in a remarkably smooth manner, and every action, from stabbing someone through the throat to jumping down from a rooftop, sliding underneath a table and climbing a building feel almost real. The combat is superlative. Crossing swords (haha), slashing someone's leg off, and countering a guard with a quick stab to the face feels not only incredibly rewarding, but very realistic as well. I think the diversity in the gameplay - you can go through the entire game without killing anyone - a true and much needed breath of fresh air.
To conclude, not only do I think this work of unbelievable genius is the best game of the year, I think it's one of the best games of the decade. Aside from everything I've written above, the one thing that Dishonored has that makes it a step up from any other competition is the fact that it is an absolute joy to play. If you're looking for a game that is incredible amounts of fun, as well as interesting and prodigiously well made, look no further than Dishonored.