Review: Dishonored Definitive Edition
Editor’s Note: Three years after the game’s original release, this review has been updated following the release of Dishonored Definitive Edition, a port of the PC version with all DLC released to date on current generation consoles which reflects on the overall score, and final verdict.
As it is often the case with remastered editions, Dishonored Definitive Edition is only a mere port to the current console generation (Xbox One and PlayStation 4) which does not change its gameplay or content by one drop, so if you want to read the original review of the game I did back in 2012, you can do so by jumping 3-4 paragraph bellow. In any case, it is necessary to dwell on what’s in this Definitive Edition.
From a strictly graphical point of view, it would be very generous to say that the difference is blatant from my original experience with Dishonored on the Xbox 360. You obviously will notice a finesse on all front, but some textures are clearly too old to honor the eighth console generation, and the framerate is stuck to a 30 fps. The loading times (fortunately quite rare) between each mission are also still long, and the overall graphic and technical rendering is very similar to the PC version.
In very simpler ways, this Definitive Edition is only “Definitive” since it’s just a simple port of the PC version than a remaster. So, unless you are an absolute fan of the game, and want to take advantage of a light facelift and get all the DLC in one package, then there’s not much else to do here.
On the other hand, of course, the title itself remains of exemplary quality, and without going into the details you will find in the full review below, and even if the graphics feel outdated compared to current 2016 games, Dishonored didn’t lose any of its charm, richness, depth of gameplay and its technical gaps are still largely compensated today by the amazing artistic direction. Moreover, for a mere price of 40$, you will get two full story DLCs and (The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches) but also Dunwall City Trials, which are a bunch of time-based challenges for your stealth, speed and combat skills.
Editor’s Note: Bellow is the original review of Dishonored, published on the 25th of October 2012, reviewed on Xbox 360.
To trace the pedigree of Dishonored is a job of its own. Developed by Arkane Studio, this little french studio worked on Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and now collaborated with Harvey Smith (game designer and writer of the original Deus Ex) and the brilliant artistic director Viktor Antonov (a master at creating in-game cities such as Half-Life 2’s City 17) for this new game. In short, Dishonored has a lot of major titles influence such as System Shock, Deus Ex or Thief in its DNA, and like a musician who claims inspirations that jump to the eyes, Arkane Studio knows how to create their own style. Dishonored is above all a rich universe and unlike any other known video game, a world inspired by Victorian England, marked by its own version of the industrial and steam revolution.
A sort of variation of the steam-punk style (retro-future-industrial as Harvey Smith claimed it before), the world of Dishonored turns to whale oil as a source of electricity but it is also bathed in mystical conceptions that the High Overseer, sort of holders of the empire’s religion, are fighting against the cult of the Outsider (A strange “deity” which seems to play a funny chess game with humans). Between religion and political issues comes Corvo, bodyguard and confidant of the Empress, which will be falsely marked as murderer of the latter, and allows key conspirators to take over Dunwall’s power. Your task will be simple: get rid of the impostors, save the empress daughter Emily, regain your honor and end the regime of terror that weighs on Dunwall’s people. Players will have the choice to act in a spirit of vengeance or justice, personal vendetta or leniency, and so on.
Because at the core of Dishonored’s story and lore is choice. After escaping from the prison, Corvo is given the mark of the Outsider and the powers that go with it. Those mystical abilities will unlock and get upgraded by collecting runes throughout the levels, each having two degrees of power to unlock, and they are hell fun to use. The Dark Vision allows you to see through the walls and to spot enemies and objects, Blink is kind of a fast teleportation (not through objects though) to emerge behind a guard or to reach higher areas, then Bend Time slows or stops time, Devouring Swarm unleash a horde of very hungry rats, Windblast basically pushes anything in front of the player, and finally Possession to take control of an animal or another human.
All these powers have up to two level and will require a healthy amount of runes (which are limited per levels) and if you want to go for a Level 2 Bend Time, for example, that will cost you 8 runes and consume a lot of mana, when a less outrageously powerful power will cost considerably less. And all this can be combined and used together, such as for example stopping time, going behind the enemies and shoot 3 headshots, blink away, then release time to see a devastating combo. The possibilities are so numerous and always related to the style a player wants to progress, on top of the level design. Arkane Studios does everything to push the player to experiment, search and be creative, even in the smaller details.
Choice, freedom and creativity are the keywords in Dishonored, and I’ll be using them a lot in this review. The game is built-in a way that player can play completely in the shadows, as Arkane laid down levels with an open design, with so many choices and decision to take throughout a mission. You can sneak into the street, to find your way going from one roof to another, turn the security systems against their owners. Certain levels of Dishonored even allow you to completely play stealthy and infiltrate in three or four ways which are more or less different. Arkane leaves so much room for maneuver to the player that he can even run, shoot and slice his way like a maniac, but that would be a gross error because it misses the most subtle and gratifying methods – which is stealth – and the secondary optional objectives.
The icing on the cake is by taking the time to make this one detour that will activate the opportunity to neutralize its target without even getting their hands dirty, and thus complete the game without having killed anyone (quite possible, but demands a lot of patience). Each of your targets can be removed from the political and power chessboard provided you have found a way to neutralize it without getting your blade stained, such as finishing a secondary objective which will help you find damning evidence on your target.
Between exploration and planning, completing a mission can take from 20 minutes up to several hours, especially if you have more than one target, aim to do run without killing anyone, or even trying to get the ghost rank in a mission (which requires you to never be detected). On this subject, note that other than the political turmoil, Dunwall suffers from a plague, which depending on your actions of either being a killing machine (High Chaos) or being stealthy as a cat and not killing a soul (Low Chaos), will affect the state of the city, and force you to change your tactics per mission.
Finally, the graphic rendering of Dishonored leaves you with a bad first impression, with textures sometimes a little limited and a rather simple modeling for the characters. Even on PC, the game pushes the resolution and details, but in the end, this sensation is quickly swept away by the quality of the artistic direction and beauty of the environments, whether it is the city of Dunwall or from the heights of the Kaldwin bridge, or even confined areas like the Boyle’s manor.
Dishonored was reviewed in October 2012, using an Xbox 360 and PC copy of the game provided by Bethesda. Dishonored Definitive Edition was reviewed in August 2015, on the Xbox One. The original game is also available on PlayStation 3, and Dishonored Definitive Edition is available on PlayStation 4 and PC on digital and retail store. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• Exemplary level design
• Amazing array of choices in the game
• Really original powers
• Amazing and immersive art direction
• A universe filled with hideen lore
• All DLCs and the original game available for a neat price with Definitive Edition
• A bit short as a whole
• Disapointing ending to the story
• Definitive edition is a lazy PC port
• Not a technical or graphical masterpiece
• Loading time can be quite long