Dishonored Definitive Edition Review (PlayStation 4)
It's time to go back to Dunwall and become the supernatural/steampunk assassin Corvo Attano one more time in Dishonored Definitive Edition. As an enhanced version of the hit 2012 game for last-gen consoles, Dishonored brings back its unique take on stealth gameplay told through a first-person perspective. Obviously, this Definitive Edition launched to help get us hyped up for Dishonored 2, but there isn't much here that could be considered new when compared to its original release (especially in regards to the last-gen Game of the Year Edition). Nevertheless, there's still something that's remarkably satisfying about infiltrating an enemy compound with such a variety of ways in dispatching your enemies, whether you're using a crossbow, traps, your sword, your hands, magic or a legion of bloodthirsty rats.
Dishonored's story remains the same. You play as Corvo Attano, the Lord Protector and agent of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin. After being framed for her murder, Corvo must rescue the late Empress' abducted daughter and bring justice to the conspiracy at work. While Corvo was already a skilled warrior, he encountered a squad of otherworldly assassins while defending his queen that he couldn't fend against. After escaping his execution, Corvo gets chosen by a supernatural being called the Outsider. This deity-like figure bestows his powers to Corvo, giving him a variety of magical tricks, including teleportation, possession, bending time, summoning swarms of rats, increased agility, and the ability to see through walls.
Dishonored's distinct visuals might be compared to the Borderlands or Fable series due to its watercolor-style of graphics. Fortunately, this realistic-but-animated format holds up after three years and jumping console generations. Despite the stylized look of Dunwall and its inhabitants, you don't see the blatant black outlines that plague cel-shaded graphics or most other unorthodox presentation styles. Whether your hiding in the dark, possessing a rat, choking someone out or slitting a throat, everything still looks good for a three-year-old game. Unfortunately, Dishonored Definitive Edition didn't particularly change or upgrade its visuals.
The game's frame rate is still capped at 30 fps. While the display has been slightly enhanced to fit a 1080p resolution, the in-game assets themselves were left noticeably unchanged. Considering that we're basically looking at the PC version of the 2012 game, I was really hoping for 60fps here. Dishonored may have had its resolution broadened, but things do look quite muddy up close, as parts of the environment and the backgrounds' smaller assets show their age. Since Dishonored's focus on stealth has you low to the ground and moving slowly a lot, you'll frequently notice how outdated some of its assets are. Ultimately, it's in the game's graphics where it becomes all too apparent that this is simply a port and not a remaster.
The sounds and songs of Dunwall are still of the utmost quality. Some of the biggest changes added to the PlayStation 4 version of the game come from the use of the DualShock 4's speaker for magical objects like the relic-seeking Heart. Dishonored is great on the ears when played on a surround sound headset or system to hear all the voices and ambiance of the city. Whether you're prowling on rooftops or spelunking through sewers, you'll hear every animal, drip and gush of wind. The sounds of Dishonored are enhanced by its voice acting cast. My first playthrough, I was surprised at the quality of its voice acting, which featured the likes of Susan Sarandon, Brad Dourif, Carrie Fisher, Michael Madsen, Lena Headey, April Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz. Combined with all the audio effects of your magic spells and steampunk-inspired weaponry, Dishonored is still a treat for the ears.
Solid gameplay is still the bread and butter of Dishonored, and that's a good thing. Whether you want to go in loud or avoid killing anybody, Dishonored still offers a lot of variety in how you approach its missions. There are all kinds of freedom you can have in stalking the streets of Dunwall, and Arkane Studios was accommodating for even the most creative of assassins. Dishonored encourages you to think outside the box in terms of infiltration.
While you could toss stealth out the window and just slash your way through the opposition, the game does have ramifications for your actions. Killing enemies and civilians raises the city's overall chaos. There are rat and plague infestations throughout Dunwall. The more people you kill, the more rats spawn throughout the city later on. Higher numbers of rats lead to a higher frequency of disease, so don't be surprised when you see the miserable folk of Dunwall bleeding from their orifices just because you bloodthirsty. This also plays a vital role in the game's final missions and in determining the ending that you get. Fortunately, this encourages replays in order to see how different the world can be based on your actions.
While some levels did have invisible barriers to keep you confined to its stages, I never encountered a rooftop or obstacle that would glitch when I teleported to it, which was surprising. The flow of stealth and combat is quite satisfying. Nothing beats teleporting from promenade to light post to rooftop in order to get the drop on an unsuspecting guard below or infiltrating a stronghold and freeing an important prisoner without ever alerting the guards. A big gripe I have with the Definitive Edition is the abundance of Bone Charms you get in the beginning of the game, which include all of the its original pre-order bonuses. Having all of these buffs and a ton of money you can use for upgrades at the beginning of the game make you feel quite overpowered for the first few hours.
While the Definitive Edition doesn't particularly bring anything new to the table, nor does it enhance the original game as much as other titles that made the jump from last-to-current-gen, Dishonored luckily has a great foundation that helped ease this transition. There isn't really anything new here for those who own the last-gen Game of the Year Edition of Dishonored, but there's still quite a lot of content and excellent gameplay to help everyone else feel like they've gotten their money's worth. Given the amount of content and fun that Dishonored offers, the Definitive Edition's $39.99 price tag is more than justified here. Luckily, the Knife of Dunwall, Brigmore Witches and Dunwall City Trials downloadable content help broaden an already enjoyable experience and add more replay value. It isn't particularly pretty by modern standards anymore, but Dishonored is still a must-play title that I wholeheartedly recommend for those who were unfortunate enough to miss it the first time around.
This review is based on a download code for Dishonored Definitive Edition provided by the publisher for PlayStation 4.