2012’s Dishonored is one of the finest games of its time, and over a decade later remains one of the finest immersive sims on the market. It’s mostly thanks to incredible things enabled by the open-ended applications of powers and gadgets available to you.
Few games make it possible to organically create power combos the way Dishonored does. Just the use of a time-stopping power and an NPC-possessing power opens the way to many grisly shenanigans, including putting an enemy in front of the bullet they just shot at you.
But the game’s success didn’t lie just in that flexible power. It’s also in the way Dishonored’s missions were structured: the objectives were clear, but the way you could go about completing them was down to your creativity and exploration. Not even the assassination targets had to be, well, assassinated, because you could discover a way to sentence them to fate worse than death. And all of that taking place on large, detailed, open maps with no obvious linearity to them.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at games which might not have all of Dishonored whalepunk traits, but something about these games make them closer to DH than it might appear on first glance.
|BioShock||2007-08-21||Action & Shooter||2K Australia|
|Deus Ex: GOTY||2000-06-22||RPG||Ion Storm||71%|
|Arx Fatalis||2002-11-12||RPG||Arkane Studios||68%|
|Ghostrunner||2020-10-27||Action||One More Level||74%|
|Thief: Deadly Shadows||2004-06-11||Adventure||Ion Storm||80%|
|Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines||2004-11-16||Adventure||Troika Games||18%|
|METAL GEAR SOLID V: The Phantom Pain||2015-09-01||Adventure||Konami Digital Entertainment||80%|
|Assassin's Creed: Syndicate||2015-11-19||Adventure||Ubisoft Annecy||44%|
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
Dilapidated remnants of a once-thriving city, now in a downward spiral due to corrupt and self-absorbed rulers, and you’re thrown into the mess and given weird powers to help(?) you out. Sounds familiar? BioShock might not be a supernatural assassination sim, and it’s more interested in the commentary on what the hell happened to Rapture, but going by vibes, it feels quite similar.
The powers you wield are mildly creepy, ranging from simple telekinesis to spawning a swarm of murder bees from your hands, and they are fueled by science fiction slug juice extracted by mutated children. It’s a weird place, okay? Anyway, mixing and matching your abilities and weapons to survive exploring the submerged city feels awesome, so would you kindly give BioShock a shot?
Deus Ex (series)
The Deus Ex series might be Dishonored’s closest cousin in terms of gameplay ideas. It’s quite keen on giving you a selection of superhuman abilities and letting you loose on a complex map filled with secrets, alternative solutions to problems, and just sheer fun of exploration and playing around. Although to be fair, Deus Exes are generally more open than the mission-oriented Dishonoreds.
Unlike Dishonored, which takes place in a quasi-Victorian, whalepunk city of Dunwall, Deus Ex games take place in a mostly near cyberpunkish future where cybernetic implants are more or less commonplace. Not unlike DH, however, your playable characters (three across the series) in Deus Ex tend to uncover nefarious conspiracies and mess them up in a major way.
Arx Fatalis, also developed by Arkane Studios, is something of a grandparent of pretty much games the studio has been making since. Although it is somewhat clunky by modern standards, the depth of systems and the freedom to play around with them remains impressive today. You wouldn’t expect a 2002 game to let you make a loaf of bread in real-time by following a recipe, and yet!
The game takes place in a vast complex on underground tunnels, where the surface civilizations have run to after the sun decided to stop working. You’re thrown into this environment with a faulty memory and capacity to learn combat, magic, and craft alike. But you should go for magic because the rune-based magic system is fascinating, useful, and open for clever experimentation.
|Developer:||One More Level|
If you’d like some juicy parkour with your superpowered first-person murder sim, then you can’t go wrong by choosing Ghostrunner. Like Deus Ex before, this one has a definitely more science-fiction, cyberpunkish vibe instead of the old-timey tone of Dishonored. However, if your favorite DH run involved a lot of blink-and-stab tactics, you should have a ball with this one too!
The game all takes place inside a massive tower which houses the remains of humanity. Unfortunately, it’s also ruled by an evil overseer and an oppressive police force. As the one remaining Ghostrunner, a cybernetically enhanced peacekeeper, you have to bring and end to this corrupt rule. Of course, you can expect conspiracies and plots to reveal themselves as you go.
Thief: Deadly Shadows
Just a shade younger than Arx Fatalis, Thief: Deadly Shadows is the third, and last, installment of a classic series (the 2014 reboot was done by a different studio). As Garrett, a master thief working in a mysterious steampunk place known only as “the City” you’ll make some illicit acquisitions, sure, but you’ll also deal with a supernatural threat that might turn out to be above of your pay grade.
The Thief series has always been great at stealth gameplay, and this installment really nails that. Unlike some other games on this list, this stealth isn’t necessarily linked to murder, you’re much better off using distractions and avoiding conflict in any form, hiding in the shadows, distracting guards with weird noises, or dousing light sources with water arrows.
The latest in Arkane Studios’ murder sims, Deathloop sneakily takes place in a future of the DH universe but moved forward to the rough equivalent of the 1960s. You’re playing as Colt, a man trapped on an island which goes through a day-long time loop, resetting every midnight. Only by murdering every obscenely rich Visionaries partying through the time loop can he become free.
While he is equipped with powers and gadgets which will be of great help, he’s also hunted by another assassin, who’s happy to cut any given run short. See, Deathloop has roguelite tendencies, with each attempt at killing all Visionaries being its own day, and its own run. Figuring out the right order also has some social puzzle elements, but the murder sim is the most important.
Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines
The least murderous game on the list (although not in any way murder-free), Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines isn’t an immersive sim, it’s a first-person role-playing game. Nevertheless, it offers just enough freedom and just enough powers you could goof around with, that it deserves a place here. Oh, and it’s set in the night-time Los Angeles, because, you know, vampires.
VtMB is based on a legendary tabletop RPG Vampire the Masquerade, and understandably, you get to play as a bloodsucker from some of the best-known clans, each with unique abilities. You could become a sneaky Nosferatu, strong Gangrel with animalistic abilities, a mind-bending Malkavian, or a few others, and then try to un…tangle the mess that is LA vamps’ political landscape.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
|Developer:||Konami Digital Entertainment|
If you’d love a murder sandbox that can handle both being sneaky and being dangerously obvious, but you’re not keen on first-person antics, check out Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. What it doesn’t have in terms of magical powers, it more than makes up for with gadgets such as a rocket-powered arm prosthetic, or special balloons which allow you to kidnap NPCs.
As Punished/Venom Snake, you’ll not only become a menace of an open world map, but you’ll also lead a mercenary organization using an oil rig as the base of operations. The game is happy to let you solve issues non-lethally, and stealth is generally advised, and your performance is ranked using a system of codenames which reflect your progress as well as preferred methods etc.
We’re back in spooky shadow assassin’s business. Aragami replaces the quasi-Victorian setting with a vaguely Japanese one. Instead of a vengeful guy in a steampunk skull mask, you get a ninja spirit, whose main party trick is teleporting easily between shadows, usually to avoid enemies…or to avoid letting them live. And just like in Dishonored, you can go mostly casualty-free.
The mission’s bosses still have to be killed, however, because Aragami offers no “fate worse than death” alternatives. Unfortunately, for all your supernatural might, you’re vulnerable to light, so you’ll have to be cautious, especially around enemies with torches. You have thirteen open-world missions to clear, and a surprisingly complex story with interesting twists and turns.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has the steampunky bits, such as a grappling hook, and it has, obviously, assassins. And unlike a not-England of Dunwall, it explicitly takes place in London, even if it’s a London from a parallel Earth where ancient aliens and magical artifacts are real. And not unlike Dishonored 2, it has two protagonists, Evie and Jacob, but you’re not forced to choose.
You also aren’t forced to work alone. In addition to your twin, you also get to run, and benefit from, your own gang of rascals. AC: Syndicate doesn’t have Dishonored’s nuanced, tailored missions, but the huge map of London, plenty of cinematic moments, the twin’s different playstyles, and the chance to meet some of the 19th century’s prominent figures more than make up for this.
This concludes our list of games like Dishonored, which might give you something just close enough to the DH experience, be it through a similar setting, similar power, or a similar general vibe that can’t exactly be quantified. Hopefully, you’ve found something that matches your expectations!