I have always held Arkane Studios in high regard. They’ve come up with games like Dishonored, Prey and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Games that I consider the best in their genre and are some of my all-time favorites.
Dishonored was released in 2012 and is a stealth focused action-adventure game. The story follows Corvo Attano, bodyguard to Dunwall’s queen and the main accused for her murder; it’s set in a fantastical dieselpunk setting with supernatural elements for good measure.
The narrative might be pretty cut and dry, but the aesthetics and feel of the entire game are unique and appealing. After the “tutorial”, the game introduces supernatural abilities to the player.
What sets Arkane apart as a developer is that when these abilities were being playtested, many players could exploit these abilities in ways developers hadn’t foreseen. Most devs would have opted to change the skills; Arkane, however, decided to adjust levels to accommodate the abuse of powers.
The game also features multiple endings, which is not choice-based but is gauged on how many bodies Corvo lays down in his path to revenge. The more people dying by the player’s hands, the more rats will have to feed on to spread their plague.
Dishonored is a top-rated franchise spawning plenty of new content in the form of DLCs and a worthy sequel that was sadly bug-ridden and had performance issues on release but works fine now and is worth a look at if you liked Dishonored.
I am always on the lookout for games like Dishonored; while they look like action games on the surface, but on repeat playthroughs, one realises that it’s less action and more of a puzzle-solving game. Each enemy NPC is a moving obstacle that the player must overcome in any number of ways they choose to – Posses a small rodent nearby and slip past the guard or teleport behind him.
Some might even like to take them head-on, a playstyle that is not encouraged by Dishonored (storywise) but is the most enjoyable way to play the game.
Let’s look at some of the games similar to Dishonored and its non-linear playstyle with linear narrative gameplay.
1. Dying Light
Released in 2015 developed by Techland, Dying Light is a survival-action game with horror elements built in. The game takes place in the middle-east where a zombie infection has run rampant, and they’re no ordinary Resident Evil zombies, but they are fast agile. They can follow our parkour expert protagonist Kyle virtually anywhere.
While the game is not your traditional stealth game like Dishonored, stealth is the most sensible route; getting the zombies’ attention doesn’t bode well for the player and their limited resources.
The story isn’t all that, and I felt that the protagonist’s voice actor sometimes failed to hit the mark, but that was a rare occurrence. The aesthetics and visuals of the game are otherwise appealing, as appealing as a third-world country ravaged by an undead outbreak can be.
Dying Light also allows co-op mode and has online events keeping the game fresh and replayable. While it might not share Dishonored’s themes, it’s not hard to draw similarities in terms of gameplay except for the supernatural abilities.
Kyle is not blessed with powers to stop time, however further down the line, players gain access to a grapple gun, and it’s fun traversing the city’s rooftops chased by zombies as you pretend to be Batman and jump over certain death to your objectives.
2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
While the original Deus Ex is considered the best video game ever made by many, I find that I enjoy Human Revolution and Mankind Divided more. It might be the more updated controls or gameplay or perhaps something as shallow as graphics or art design.
Whichever the case may be, Deus Ex is undoubtedly on par with Dishonored regarding visuals and tone and certainly better in the narrative section primarily because there is more player interaction this time around to influence the story and NPCs other than the one sympathetic character to care for.
Deus Ex is an ARPG at its core, but it almost always encourages stealth, it’s a first-person shooter, but the gunplay isn’t suited for a COD run and gun gameplay. It’s better to stay in the shadows and take shots at enemies without alerting their friends and quickly eliminate all threats on the battlefield.
Stealth purists might not even bother with knocking anyone out, traversing the level solely on their ability to remain undetected. But, of course, such a playstyle is very risky because the deeper you go into the level, the more enemies you have left with your back turned towards them. An alarm at such times would mean the death of our badass protagonist Adam Jensen.
Both Human Revolution and Mankind Divided are polished experiences with gameplay elements similar to Dishonored and make for fun replayable games.
An underrated, underappreciated masterpiece in every way, Prey is the pinnacle of the immersive sim genre. It’s the kind of game where you look at your tools and wonder if you could do something unorthodox with it to get to an objective, and the answer mostly always is a resounding yes.
Released in 2017 and sharing the same developer as Dishonored, Prey takes place in a futuristic setting aboard a seemingly abandoned space station, well, not entirely abandoned. It’s been taken over by an alien life force known as Typhon.
Prey like Dishonored emphasises stealth to an extent where taking the enemy head-on is a suicide, especially in the early game. However, later down the line, players will have access to Neuromods like runes in Dishonored, allowing them to enhance various skill trees and even unlock some more superhuman mods courtesy of the Typhon.
Unlike Dishonoured, which features levels and a central hub where players return to after each mission, the game follows a Metroidvania structure. Prey gives access to the entire space station in an open-world way. As players are left to explore completing objectives in whichever order, they wish they will unlock various shortcuts to the main Talos lobby.
This game is truly a hidden gem, it’s worth its current steam price every bit and more; it also features DLC like Mooncrash, which introduce rogue-like elements to the polished gameplay allowing for even more replayability.
I maintain that Prey was the true spiritual successor to System Shock 2; Bioshock only shares part of its name. Nevertheless, Bioshock is a decent game in its own right.
While it doesn’t offer as much freedom as System Shock 2 or Prey, it features robust gameplay and allows enough gameplay styles to accommodate several playstyles. However, I have never seen anyone be successfully stealthy in Bioshock.
Bioshock has an exciting setting in an underwater Atlantean city – Rapture and is a subtle commentary on society and unlimited power within limited people.
The story follows Jack as his plane mysteriously crashes near a light-house, the gateway to Rapture; the story is captivating and will keep the players engaged to the end.
Bioshock features some elements of RPG, allowing players to access plasmids which are mutations allowing players to do superhero stuff (Telekinesis, shooting fire and electricity from your hands). However, the game would be appreciated more by players looking for a traditional FPS experience with some survival elements.
Ultimately if the player is smart enough, resources are never scarce, bullets don’t run out if the player uses plasmids in tandem and so on.
5. Hitman: WoA Trilogy
It’s not first-person, it doesn’t feature multiple endings, it’s not a pseudo-RPG. Where Hitman and Dishonored are similar is the previously mentioned puzzle-solving style of gameplay they encourage.
Hitman is a long-running franchise that has seen several overhauls during its course in finding the perfect game for social stealth, and with IO Interactive’s latest entries into the franchise, I believe they’ve nailed it.
Hitman places the player in the shoes of Agent 47, a cold, calculating killing machine that has no special powers except for some genetic enhancements that allow him to be a better marksman and athlete than others. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t allow 47 to tank bullets or survive headshots making stealth the only viable route.
There are over 18 maps with various missions other than the main campaign ones and a contracts mode that allows the community to assign their targets and compete for the best score. The game enables players several ways to get rid of their prey.
It can be something as direct as a bullet to the head or perhaps something less noticeable; poisoning their food is an excellent way to complete the objective without raising any suspicions. That’s the best part of the game; you can go into the map kill the targets without anyone even raising an eyebrow, a clean kill by a silent assassin.
6. Thief: The Dark Project
Thief could be credited for inspiring many games in this list, released in 1998. However, the franchise, unfortunately, couldn’t survive like Hitman or Tomb Raider that released with it, probably because of the third title Deadly Shadows, which failed to meet the expectations of many.
As the name would suggest, players take on the role of master thief Garrett in a fantasy steampunk setting; at times, it feels like what Dishonored’s world would have looked like in the past, a fitting parallel as Dishonored is an evolution of the first-person stealth gameplay pioneered by Thief.
Like Dishonored, players are thrown into different locations in the world to complete objectives while also featuring side objectives within the level and many secret paths and items to collect, making replayability viable.
I’d recommend the first two titles of the franchise for the best Thief experience. While they may look dated, there are plenty of mods to improve the graphics and polish the gameplay a bit.
The Stealth genre as a whole doesn’t have a lot of releases every year, making them somewhat of scarcity, especially when standards are as high as Dishonored; not many games can compare to it.
That’s the reason I haven’t listed games like Far Cry; while they do have an element of stealth, it’s pretty barebones, and the AI is usually too dumb or too unpredictable even to make it a viable option.
Games like Dishonored feature depth and intricacy in gameplay. A game doesn’t just have to be FPS and stealth to be deemed similar to Dishonored.