We reviewed the first release of Dishonored on console a couple of years ago and were pretty impressed with the then new IP from Arkane Studios. Pretty much coming from nowhere, the open approach assassination game made its mark with an interesting story of betrayal, a fully fleshed out world, and a great choice of supernatural powers at your disposal. Fast forward to now and the Definitive Edition has been released for console which features an upgraded resolution and framerate, as well as all the DLC released. I’d always said I’d return to Dunwall, but is it worth the price of admission?
A quick recap – Dishonored has you playing the part of Corvo Attano, a royal protector that fails at his job, gets framed for murder, thrown in prison, then offered a second chance to seek revenge and put things right. Oh, and you get mysterious powers given by a supernatural entity called The Outsider to help you on your way. Cue an adventure across a plague riddled city to eliminate anyone involved in the death of the Empress and kidnap of her daughter.
Where the game excelled was in the way you weren’t forced down a particular route in getting to your target. Stealth or attack are viable options, and even on occasions bartering with some of the characters to open up alternative solutions. Decisions made throughout the story impacted the ending, whether it was from the total number of people you killed to the individuals you did favours for on the way, and determined whether you’d ultimately saved the city of Dunwall or doomed it.
With the Definitive Edition, Dishonored presents the best version it can on console, maintaining a small upscale in the image quality and a rock solid 60 frames per second presentation. It’s not leaps and bounds on from the original release, the improvements make for a cleaner and sharper experience overall though and it feels smoother for it. Maybe it’s a switch up in my playstyle rather than any change to the game but it seems to flow better, especially with the power use and combining their effects, and I enjoyed the variation it offers more than first time round.
Graphically it’s a bit sparse. Things aren’t bad looking, and the art style still reminds of Bioshock, there’s just not much going on outside the characters and static backgrounds. Add in some reasonably lengthy loading times for joining sections of levels together and it’s pretty clear that this is just a port of the PC version. We’ve come to think that remasters usually have some additional elements or special attention paid to certain features, it’s a shame on one hand that Dishonored is so vanilla, then again it didn’t really need any changes making.
What does come as extra in the package is all the DLC Arkane released. In the main game it manifests as bonus Bone Charms for you to start the game with and enhance your abilities, and outside this there are 3 add ons to play with. The Dunwall Trials is a collection of challenges that test your skills with the various weapons and powers Corvo has acquired. It also throws in a couple of puzzle levels to test your observation and reasoning as well. With 10 different challenges to master and various secrets hidden in them, as well as the high score elements, there’s a decent amount of content in this one alone. Of particular fun is the drop attack time trial where jumping on to unsuspecting enemies from varying heights nets you points – sounds easy, yet is really tricky to get right.
The other two pieces of DLC are really one because they tell a complete tale. The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches are 6 more chapters to play, though this time you’re Daud, one of the protagonists from the main game, finding out what he did between the killing the Empress and being tracked down by Corvo. It plays exactly the same, though there are a couple of twists on the powers – blink stops time completely as long as you’re not moving, and there’s a pull option that drags objects towards you; new environments show off more of the city of Dunwall and delves further into its whaling history; and it’s voiced by Michael Madsen too which fits well for the hired assassin.
Sadly, I didn’t feel the connection to the DLC like I did with Corvo’s story. Daud as a character is hard to get behind because he’s part of the reason for the ruinous state Dunwall is in. There’s an attempt at telling a redemption story that’s a counterpoint to the revenge already experienced that just doesn’t quite hit the mark, not least because there’s an influx of new characters that don’t get the chance to get fleshed out and you can’t really figure out without some serious backstory reading how they link in. I took the opportunity to move from a silent assassin approach I’d used to be more action focussed, though mainly because the AI was just too observant. Maybe I should have taken Daud at face value – sneak in, kill, get out quietly.
If you’ve not played before and it’s one you’ve always fancied then dive in, there are 15 levels of story driven assassination, and then the 10 challenges from the trials, as well as a nudge to replay to get collectibles and alternate endings. If you’ve played this before, is it worth you dropping the £30/$40 to go through again? I’d say yes, it’s still a great game and will be a recap/re-familiarisation before the sequel lands next year. However, if you’ve still got your PS3/360 copy you would be just as well booting that up and buying the extra content.
Dishonored Definitive Edition is available now on PS4 and Xbox One.