Bethesda's steampunk world is a great place to visit, even if you wouldn't want to live there

Dunwall is a city ridden with corruption. While its debauched upper classes scheme and plot against one another, its downtrodden citizens are afflicted by a terrible plague that has turned some into crazed savages and left whole areas boarded up and deserted.

It's a beautiful and brutal steampunk world (if a bit reminiscent of Deptford), and one that proves a fascinating playground to inhabit as players take control of Corvo, a former bodyguard falsely accused of killing his Empress. Reborn as an assassin, the first-person action-adventure sees you wield a variety of weapons (including pistols, swords and a mini-crossbow) and a multitude of magic powers as you work your way through the shadows, into sewers and across rooftops, seeking revenge on those responsible for your current plight.

Pitched somewhere between the Thief and Deus Ex games, Dishonored is an utterly refreshing gaming experience – and the ambition evident in its nuanced and richly balanced gameplay is reflected by the scope and scale of its AV prowess. Every aspect of the game's characters and the world they inhabit is memorable and convincing, aided by a wonderful sound design that is as successful in handling vocal performances as it is in generating a believable atmosphere for each of its varied locations. An essential purchase.

Bethesda, Xbox 360/PS3/PC, £50 Approx, On sale now