Violent choices impact ultimate outcome of mature game.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The game demonstrates that you always have choices when faced with a difficult situation. You just have to look hard to find them. It also shows, on some levels, the importance of keeping your word -- and fighting for what you believe in. 

Positive role models

The game creates characters to which you become emotionally attached, particularly the heir to the throne, a little girl named Emily, who the hero Corvo aims to protect. Players are always given a choice whether to kill a target or eliminate them through non-lethal means. While there is betrayal and ruthless killing by some characters, the heart of the story is about honor and its meaning to the individual. 

Ease of play

The game encourages players to explore different types of play styles, each with its own challenges. Stealth results in fewer fights and less chance of death, but requires patience and a good sense of timing. Shooting your way through the game results in more enemies (and a darker finish). The game lets players choose the level of difficulty they wish to tackle, as well. Arrows point players to their destination. 


Players have the option to finish the game without killing any other character, though most are unlikely to achieve this, given its difficulty. When they do engage in combat, it's bloody, with severed limbs and bloody stains. Players use pistols, crossbows, swords, grenades, and other weapons to kill human enemies. Those kills are sometimes accompanied by slow-motion effects and gurgling sounds. Corpses are often devoured by packs of plague-infested rats. And there are corpses strewn around this plague-ridden town. 


The character will explore brothels where women are dressed suggestively and occasional moaning can be heard through walls. They are referred to in the game as "whores". 


Plenty of salty language, including "damn" and "hell". “F--k,” “s--t,” and “a--hole” are also used regularly. 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Many scenes take place in a bar and several characters openly consume beer or other spirits. The player's character also drinks on occasion -- and players can choose to drink more as they explore the world. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dishonored is an action/role-playing/stealth game set in a plague-infested town in the Renaissance time period. The game lets players choose between evading enemies and engaging them in combat and always offers an alternative to killing their main target. Still, there are violent moments, such as a torturer beating a victim and bodies being tossed off of a bridge. Foul language is also prevalent and there is some sexuality in a brothel level. 

What kids can learn


Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • hypothesis-testing

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • integrity
  • making wise decisions

What Kids Can Learn

Dishonored wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

What kids can learn


Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • hypothesis-testing

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • integrity
  • making wise decisions

Dishonored wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chris Morris

What's it about?

Players assume the role of Corvo, a royal bodyguard who has been framed for treason for the assassination of the empress. Freed from jail, he becomes an assassin, using a combination of weapons and supernatural abilities (such as the ability to teleport to areas a short distance away and stop time) to overthrow the actual conspirators behind the killing and protect the empress's daughter. Players have the choice to fight their way through the game or move in a stealthy manor and the game reacts accordingly. (Fewer kills results in a different ending than that of someone who leaves a bloody trail through the game.)

Is it any good?


Real choice in video games is a rare thing. You're typically steered in a certain direction -- often forced to kill, even when you'd rather not. Dishonored is a rare game that truly leaves the decisions in your hand. You can be a lethal killing machine or a ghost who never harms a fly (or a combination of both). As you follow your path, the game adjusts, taking your actions into account. Seemingly small decisions on one level can turn into bigger ones further in the game. 

Just as impressively, the game creates characters you actually care about. The relationship between lead character Corvo and empress-in-waiting Emily is paternal and players actively work to protect her. The relationship humanizes your character -- and may make you reconsider your actions. Blend all of this with some unique supernatural powers and a good collection of real world weapons and it adds up to a smart, intense and engaging title. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about standing up for the weak (as Corvo does for the empress's daughter). Families can also talk about whether it's good to fight or avoid conflict -- and the ramifications of either action. 

  • Families can also talk about the impact of media violence. In this game you can try to avoid the violence. Did you? Why or why not?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Price:$59.99 ($49.99 for PC)
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Bethesda Softworks
Release date:October 9, 2012
Genre:Role Playing
Topics:Magic and fantasy
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language

This review of Dishonored was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byizacis October 9, 2012


this game is very good, but for the more mature.there is a little splash of blood occasionly when you kill an enemy, and a couple of swear words in there as well.Alll of this can be avoided, in fact it encourages you not to kill anyone. If you kill something it will discourage you by giving you punishments! get this game if your kids dont mind the occaasional s word and splash of blood.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byMrBobbito September 24, 2013

Violence NOT Discouraged

To clarify, at no point does the game tell the player "it is wrong to kill people". When other reviews say it discourages killing, what they really mean is that killing people will change the way the story progresses. There is no immediate benefit in choosing to avoid someone over choosing to kill them, the latter often being easier. Next, in terms of violence, a lot of these reviews are off. Yes, you get the "splash of blood" as some people are saying. However, you can also watch corpses get devoured into nothing by swarms of rats, giving enough time to clearly see a body with all the organs exposed. The game is centered around plague, and your character even has the power to summon rats to kill enemies. Besides all of that, the theme of the game is, simply, revenge. While you can indirectly help others, your motivation through the whole story is to kill off anyone that betrayed you and anyone that might be helping them. It's an excellent story to follow, but you're not going to learn a lot of virtues from this one.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byJester™ October 13, 2012

Gory, stealthy action game is not for youths.

The biggest issue with Dishonored is the violence. While it is up to the player as to whether or not they will kill anyone, there is still a very menacing atmosphere in the game as the player will witness NPC's (non-playable characters) being killed, sometimes very graphically. I personally love the stealthy aspects of the game as well as the challenge of completing missions without bloodshed. There are references to sex and some language in the game, but it is not super frequent and is relatively mild. The biggest concern for parents and Dishonored is the violence. One of the most disturbing actions the player can take is to summon a swarm of rats to viciously (and realistically) consume enemies, where the rats first eat through the flesh, followed by muscle tissue and finally bone of the enemy, all of which is visible to the player and accompanied by plentiful amounts of blood. Dismemberment is also common if the player chooses to kill enemies. Overall the game is entertaining, but the violence (should the player choose to partake of it) is extreme. (*NOTE* The Australian classification for Dishonored is MA15+ for Strong Bloody Violence) Jester's Rating: 9/10
What other families should know
Too much violence


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