Although it doesn’t feel as if so much time has passed, it’s been almost three years since Dishonored teleported its way onto consoles and PC. Since then, Arkane Studios has been quietly working on a sequel to what was once considered to be a Game of the Year candidate, and is now thought of as one of the best games of the last console generation. That, as well as an updated version of the now-classic stealth title, which has just made its way to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as Dishonored: Definitive Edition.
For those who are new to things, Dishonored is a first-person stealth-action game which takes place in the fictional, steampunk-inspired city of Dunwall. It’s in that city’s troubled walls where we meet Corvo Attano, the empress’ respected bodyguard, who has returned from a two month visit to neighbouring regions. His return — which comes two days earlier than expected — occurs at a terrible time, as he finds himself unable to defend his highness against assassins who threaten her life and ends up taking the blame for her murder.
Six months pass between the game’s opening and the beginning of its great campaign, at which point a group of strangers helps Corvo break out of prison, before providing him with refuge. They tell him of their plans, and promise to aid him in his quest to not only clear his name, but to also save the empress’ daughter who was kidnapped at the time of her mother’s murder.
As expected, Corvo’s journey is a trying one, and is filled with more than enough political corruption. On top of that, one must deal with the Rat Plague, which has infected many of Dunwall’s citizens and turned them into spitting walkers. It’s this plague that acts as the major backdrop for what is an interesting storyline, while also serving as a repercussion for players’ actions.
Since you’re playing as someone who’s considered to be a good and loyal person, it’s ideal to try and make your way through the campaign without killing anyone, though it’s ultimately very difficult to do. Furthermore, if you do assassinate, murder or simply kill an enemy in battle, it negatively affects your score and adds to the amount of rats that you’ll come across in the city. Granted, only those who are skilled in the art of stealth gaming will be able to beat this game without taking any lives, and us ruthless killers aren’t punished much for being that way. Murdering every guard you come across may not be the best way to go about things, but it’s definitely more fun and won’t prevent you from being able to make it to the end of Corvo’s quest.
Being a murderous assassin comes with a lot of benefits, too, because Corvo is given an incredible arsenal and also learns how to wield magical powers. The most notable of these is blink, which lets you teleport short distances and find different routes to your objectives, but there are other offensive options, like a powerful wind gust, the ability to possess rats or enemies, and the chance to slow down time. Another great asset is an unlock that makes unsuspecting enemies disappear once assassinated.
Those who buy this Dishonored: Definitive Edition package — which is well-priced at just $39.99 U.S. dollars — will not only receive the core Dishonored experience, but all of its post-release DLC as well. That includes a set of challenging trials, as well as a two-part expansion that did a great job of adding on to the base game. Needless to say, there’s quite a bit of content on offer here, with at least twenty hours of gameplay to be found.
Also, since this is marketed as the definitive version of the game and referenced as being a remastered affair, those who buy it are apt to expect it at its absolute best in terms of performance. That isn’t always the case, though, because some (relatively minor) technical problems and long loading times mar the experience.
The first thing that I noticed was that there was a bit of lag behind some of my in-game actions, and that’s something that hasn’t disappeared as I’ve progressed through the campaign. Additionally, there has also been an instance of screen tearing, and some brief frame rate drops. Outside of those problems, things have been fine, and the game has looked noticeably better than I remember it looking on the Xbox 360. I can’t definitively say whether it looks better than the PC version at max settings, but I’ve heard disappointing things as far as that comparison goes.
Dishonored: Definitive Edition also runs at 30 frames-per-second like its last-gen predecessors, which is something that may deter those who were hoping for a 60fps remaster. The really disappointing thing, though, is that it fails to stay stable, because this is something that should be a bare minimum on current-gen consoles. That said, the drops are infrequent and far from game-breaking, which makes this issue a bit easier to digest.
In the end, whether or not this is a package worth purchasing is up to personal preference. Dishonored continues to be a fantastic and thoroughly immersive game, but there’s no denying that this port could’ve been handled better than it was.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
Although it's not a perfect port of one of last-gen's best games, Dishonored: Definitive Edition offers a lot of content for a budget-friendly price.