Dishonored: Definitive Edition Review

By Lauren Alessandra on September 29, 2015

Released initially at the end of one of the longest console generations ever, Dishonored was a happy surprise for gamers as it offered an engaging story with a distinctive mission system. Fast forward to 2015, we're seeing Dishonored re-released on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in a special Definitive Edition which includes 3 DLC packs and in-game bonuses. So that begs the question, how does this version of the game fair when compared to other games this generation?

Revenge is a very common plot device. There are many stories where characters either succumb to the wrath of revenge and others where they learn to move on from those who have wronged them. The interesting thing about Dishonored is that you can actually do both pretty seamlessly. You play Corvo Attano, royal protector and lover of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin. The two have a child named Emily who is heir to the throne. As a royal protector, Corvo is known for his work throughout the city especially when it comes to plague relief efforts. However, his plague relief efforts are cut short when he is framed for the assassination of Jessamine and the kidnapping of Emily for which he is thrown into prison. With help from a group known as the Loyalists, Corvo breaks out of prison offering his services to the group as penance for their help.

It's at this moment where the player can choose how Corvo will respond; whether it's to kill all those responsible for the Empress' death and Emily's kidnapping or to take the higher ground and hurt their social status' rather than resorting to murder. Both will offer different outcomes and gameplay options which makes the game a great one to replay over and over again. Granted, the plot twists are quite predictable later in the game, however, overall the narrative offers a very enjoyable experience in both the story as well as the gameplay. As I said earlier, you can choose how to play this game right from the start by either murdering everyone or staying in the shadows and it affects the gameplay just as much as it does the story. There is also no easy way to accomplish either.

Initially, you might think that hacking and slashing might be the best way to go, but you have to consider that the AI are actually quite intelligent in this game. They'll dodge and parry your attacks, leaving you mashing furiously. There are also some enemies which require a bit of creativity to kill like the "Tallboys" who are soldiers who use an extremely tall robot suit to get around. They wear protective armor and can knock your health bar down significantly with their compound bows making them a real threat especially when there are multiples. Although this all might sound frustrating, it actually keeps the gameplay from becoming too stagnant and boring.

Then there's the stealth option which is where things get even more interesting. The AI are no dummies in this regard either. Although you might have the occasional oblivious security officer, most of the time, if you're not hidden, the enemies will find you and they will call all of their buddies to attack you. You can escape quite easily using some of the powers that are at your disposal, but you definitely don't even want to get noticed if you're planning on clearing the stages without being noticed once. It gets extremely difficult later in the game when there are dozens of enemies scattered around, so you really have to get creative when it comes to utilizing your powers.

From the beginning of the game, you find out that Corvo actually has special powers. You come to learn this from a mysterious man named "The Outsider" who helps you learn how to use one of your first powers, Blink, which is essentially a teleportation move. The other powers you can choose from are locked and can only be retrieved by using runes. Some of the powers help you stay in the shadows while others help you with combat so it's up to you which route you want to take. You could even probably go through the whole game with just Blink, but this will make the game extremely difficult, so it's better to try and collect as many runes as you can so you can have more powers available to you. There are also attributes which you can upgrade with runes as well. One of which, Agility, allows you to double jump which can come in handy when you're attempting to be stealthy. It's definitely noticeable how important these powers are to your success through the game. The difficulty spikes quite a bit as you move forward and if you haven't been paying much attention to the runes you've collected, you might find again that the game is significantly harder.

Aside from Runes, there are also Bone Charms which offer you even more abilities as bonuses. They can offer you things like increased agility or a boost in the effectiveness of elixirs. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part you need to find these charms by using a beating heart contraption that is given to you near the beginning of the game. This heart also helps you find Runes. Overall it's a nice system and it's great that the game offers you help by giving you the beating heart, but the bone charms don't offer nearly as much benefit when compared to the abilities and attributes that you can learn by collecting runes. They're a nice bonus, but not really essential to completing the game.

The environments of Dishonored are quite interesting. There are many different corridors and ledges that you can use to stay hidden which makes the game extremely open. Also, there aren't many rooftops you can loiter on so that ups the difficulty quite a bit. There's really not an easy way out of completing a level. Most of the time you're faced with the dilemma of whether or not to start over, or carry on and hope for the best. If you're a bit of a perfectionist though, you might find the game's loading screens very frustrating. Each time you boot up the game, die, or enter a new area, you're faced with a loading screen which seems to take forever to get anywhere. It could make your hour play session go to two hours if you're not careful. This was somewhat acceptable back when the game was on PlayStation 3, but with it being on PlayStation 4, you'd like to think that the loading screens wouldn't be this sluggish. It's one of the more lazy aspects of this port.

The game's soundtrack is by Dexter composer Daniel Licht and when you listen to it, you can actually kind of hear a bit of his famous soundtrack coming through. It's very fitting for the environments and the way the soundtrack reacts to what's happening in game is really effective. For example, when noticed by an enemy, you'll hear a sudden change in music and, of course, also feel the disappointment of being spotted. Hopefully Licht will do more game soundtracks in the future.

As this is the Definitive Edition, there are 3 DLC available to play, two which offer additional storylines. First is the Dunwall City Trials which contains a series of challenges for the more dedicated players to take part in. There are stealth challenges like Mystery Foe where you need to collect clues to identify your target and then successfully take them out. The action challenges, like Back Alley Brawl, see you fight waves of enemies. The puzzle challenges, like the Bend Time Massacre, offer rounds of enemies to defeat within a certain time and then finally you have the Mobility challenges which are more about using powers like Blink to get through obstacle courses. Usually you'll find a challenge that works for your playing style and then the others just kind of go by the wayside. Still it offers a good form of practice for the main game and lots more replicability.

The other two DLC packs available are "The Knife of Dunwall" and "The Brigmore Witches" which offer a really interesting side story to the main game. Instead of following Corvo, they follow a man named Daud who is one of the main game's antagonists and is responsible for murdering the Empress. Apparently "The Outsider" wasn't too happy with Daud's actions and with Daud begging for redemption, the Outsider orders Daud to find out the mystery behind the name "Delilah". It's a very interesting fully fleshed side story which shines new light on Daud's character and offers some explanation for his actions in the main game. It's also great that they got Michael Madsen to reprise his role for the DLC as his performance as Daud is really compelling.

Final Thoughts

So is Dishonored still the great game it was on the PlayStation 3? In many ways, yes. It still has the charm of the original and the gameplay is still feels as innovative as it once was. The graphics offer a bit of an improvement over last generation's release but it doesn't really stand up to the graphics of this current generation's graphics and the length of the loading screens are really frustrating considering how far we've come since last generation. Unfortunately the story also suffers from a bit of predictability, but the gameplay offers so much that even though you're playing the same story, the actual way you play the game can differ pretty much every time you play it. The DLC also make the game worth purchasing, however, if you've already purchased the Game of the Year edition of Dishonored, it's probably best you save your money. For first timers, this is definitely a game you need to check out for yourself and what better way to do it than on a current generation console?

The gameplay is innovative and exciting
The collection items and DLC offer hours of game time
There are many ways to play this game and the difficulty never falters
The graphics aren’t on par with the rest of the games of this generation
It takes ages to restart missions and travel
The story, although it’s enjoyable, is very predictable
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