DISHONORED A delightful variety of nuanced ways to commit virtual murder!

IMAGINE A GAME that, aesthetically, is a cross between Half-Life and BioShock. Your character's like that guy from Assassin's Creed—only he can teleport, stop time, and send hordes of plague rats after his foes. Gameplay-wise, Dishonored is equal parts Thief and Deus Ex, while its storyline is like 1984 as reimagined by George R.R. Martin's lazy older brother who you never hear much about.

Normally I wouldn't directly compare all those things—but in the case of Arkane Studios' Dishonored, there's no better way to illustrate how much I love this title. All those aforementioned games and stories are undeniable classics, and despite only being released earlier this month, Dishonored stands right alongside them.

Why? To put it simply, the game gives you choices: Dishonored gives you an open, sandbox-style world, asks you to complete various missions, then leaves you alone to figure out how to accomplish these tasks. Unlike most games that would have one solution, Dishonored's missions all feature many, many different ways to achieve your objectives. Say, for instance, you're tasked with killing a man who you recently discovered is hanging out at the local brothel. You could run in, sword swinging, and simply murder everyone in the building­, or you could sneak silently through the halls until he's in your crosshairs. For that matter, you could use your teleportation abilities to climb up to his window before shooting him in the face. Hell, if you're good enough, you can even possess the target and force him to jump off a nearby balcony into the sea.

Point being: There's no end to the options in Dishonored. If you think something should work, it almost always does. That makes this title infinitely replayable—and makes for the most compelling action game experience of the year.