Dishonored: Definitive Edition Review

I played Dishonored on the PS3 a few years back and greatly enjoyed it, and I even got the two story-based DLC afterwards, which were also enjoyable. So why in God’s name did I get the game again for PS4? Simple answer really: I’m looking forward to owning both this game and the upcoming Dishonored 2 on the same system. So is this Definitive Edition worth getting for those who already played the game on previous gen systems (besides myself)? I’m afraid only those gamers themselves can answer that question; it depends on exactly how much they love this game. I for one felt that $40 was worth it to get the full game and all its DLC for a current gen system (plus I’ll trade-in the PS3 version for…I don’t know, a couple of bucks, so that’s something). Now allow me to go over what’s included in this game for those who haven’t played it yet.

Set in the fictional city of Dunwall, you take on the role of Corvo Attano, the Royal Protector of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, as he returns from journeying to the neighboring cities of the empire in order to seek their aid in battling a deadly rat plague which is causing lots of trouble for Dunwall’s citizenry. Almost immediately after Corvo reunites with his empress and her daughter Emily, whom he has a close bond with, assassins crash the reunion and Corvo’s life is turned upside down in a flash. The empress ends up murdered, her daughter is kidnapped, and Corvo has the misfortune of getting the blame for this horrible occurrence placed squarely on him by the ones truly responsible. After spending months in prison, Corvo is close to his moment of execution when he receives some outside help and is able to escape. Afterwards, he meets his new allies who recruit him as their personal assassin with the goal of doing away with those responsible for murdering the empress and framing Corvo for it, not to mention finding the empress’s daughter so they can place her on her rightful throne. And how Corvo goes about completing his mission is entirely up to you.

 

“Welcome to Dunwall: May the Outsider have mercy on your soul.”

Each mission features an expansive map to explore, and while they’re not totally free-roam, they are large enough to provide gamers several options on how to approach objectives. They’re not always so easy to find though. If a wall of electric energy is barring the main path, you could try to disable it, go around another side path, take to the rooftops, etc. While each route will offer different challenges, they could also lead to you encountering other characters with side-missions and other helpful stuff. You could always go the “run ‘n gun” route as well and just shoot and slice your way through any enemies you encounter, though this is definitely easier later on in the game after you’ve acquired more weapons and powers.

But those who take the time to explore their surroundings will not only find lots of stuff to keep them busy for longer, but they’ll find journals and books that add further to the game’s lore, as well as more weapons and ammo that can prove more than helpful. Corvo always wields a blade in his right hand, and with his left hand he can wield projectile weapons like a crossbow, pistols, grenades, and mines. He can also wield a number of magic abilities granted to him by the mysterious supernatural being known as the Outsider: these spells include Blink (teleportation), Dark Vision (highlights nearby enemies and items through walls and darkness), Windblast (kind of self-explanatory), Rat Swarm (summon rats to gobble up enemies or dead bodies), Possession (take control of animals or enemies to bypass security and aid in infiltration), and Bend Time (slow down/stop time).

Finding runes which are scattered all over the levels or can be acquired through side-missions let you acquire and upgrade the effectiveness of these powers, and also give you other upgrades like improved health and movement, stronger melee strikes, and having slain enemies dissolve into dust so their bodies aren’t discovered by other enemies. Other items called bone charms give Corvo extra perks like increasing magic energy regeneration, swinging his sword faster, or faster movement while sneaking. Thankfully, the exact locations of runes and bone charms can be pointed out to Corvo when he uses the item known as the Heart.

“Whoa, sorry about that, I was actually aiming at that zombie thing behind you.”

When it comes to dealing with enemies and even Corvo’s main assassination targets, you can do so lethally or non-lethally, and through stealth or…non-stealth. Or a combination of all these tactics. These different approaches not only affect the way you play the game, but also affect the way missions go about and even how the story ends thanks to the game’s Chaos system, which is a more realistic and nuanced version of the classic video game karma system. Knocking out enemies by choking them out or using tranquilizer darts, as well as assisting allies and troubled citizens, keeps Chaos low and makes it so that you are viewed as a righteous avenger by your allies and the city of Dunwall at large.

On the other hand, slaughtering all those who stand in your way makes you appear as a soulless killing machine and increases Chaos. As Chaos rises, so does the calamity that has befallen Dunwall: more swarms of plague rats will litter the streets, more guards and security measures will be present, and even allies will look upon you less favorably. Pretty much everything you do in this game, every action or inaction, will have different consequences somewhere down the line, and this greatly increases the game’s replay value. And the different ways you can deal with main assassination targets can be truly ingenious. If you don’t want to outright kill them, you can do things like banish them, have them imprisoned by exposing their crimes, get them kidnapped, etc.

Enemy variety isn’t huge, but it doesn’t matter since they’re all tough enough to give you a challenge in direct confrontations. City guards and gangsters are the more basic ones, while Overseers who can cancel out Corvo’s magic and assassins with magic abilities of their own prove to be tougher. The worst ones are the Tallboys, which are heavily armored city guards on mechanical stilts that shoot explosive crossbow bolts; these guys are better avoided altogether, but can be put down with smart use of weapons and powers. Weepers are the creepiest enemies, they’re citizens who have succumbed to the later stages of the rat plague and have become very similar to zombies, aimlessly shambling around and attacking anything that moves by biting them. Fortunately, they don’t require headshots to be put down, they can be dealt with lethally or non-lethally like any other enemy. Guard dogs, aggressive fish, acid-spitting mollusks, and swarms of rats round out the non-human enemy list.

You don’t want to walk blindly into these guys, low or high Chaos be damned

The two story-related DLCs, The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, put you in control of Daud, the assassin responsible for screwing up Corvo’s life in the first place. Taking place concurrently with the main game, these DLCs start with Daud being sent on a mission by the Outsider to find out the identity of someone named “Delilah” and see what she’s planning. Like with Corvo, Daud’s decisions and actions will have “Chaotic” affects on the story and missions. He also plays somewhat differently from Corvo. He lacks the Rat Swarm, Windblast, and Possession abilities, but he has an improved version of Blink that freezes time as long as he’s not moving, which lets the player aim their teleportations more carefully, even in mid-air. His Void Gaze works like Corvo’s Dark Vision but also points out runes and bone charms, though it lacks the range of the Heart. He also has the Pull ability, which lets him telekinetically grab items from a distance and even pull enemies towards him for easy kills. His last magic ability lets him summon an assassin minion to fight alongside him for a time.

He even has extra gadgets like arc mines that instantly disintegrate enemies, as well as chokedust to disorient enemies and stun mines to knock them out (I would have liked it if Corvo had these items, he really needed more options for taking out enemies non-lethally). He also has access to corrupted bone charms, which offer advantages and disadvantages, like improving a magic attack’s effectiveness at the cost of completely negating magic energy regeneration. Probably the most interesting inclusion with Daud’s missions is the option to purchase “favors” from his criminal contacts, which include alternate entry points being opened up, extra runes and bone charms being left in easy to reach locations, and even the option to wear disguises. And there are a few new enemies, namely Butchers with powered buzzsaws, witches that use nasty magic, and gravehounds which are basically undead dogs. These DLCs are easily just as good as the main game, and the two of them together almost make a full game. The other DLC, Dunwall City Trials, is a collection of challenges involving stealth and combat, which makes for some good pick up and play fun.

I really enjoyed this game, both on the PS3 and PS4. The first-person perspective and sometimes finicky controls can make it easy to make a mistake like accidentally falling off a roof, and several times while swimming I would try to climb out of the water, only for Corvo (or Daud) to end up diving several feet back down for some reason. And while the combat was fun, it seemed strangely unbalanced. Sometimes enemies would somehow dodge every swing of my blade and strike back with a kick, while other times they went down with considerably less difficulty. Other than those minor issues, Dishonored was and still is a fun game that can appeal both to gamers who love to use stealth or who want shoot or cut down everyone in sight. Best of all, the save system makes it possible to undo any embarrassing screw-ups or take another go at that annoying enemy who either went down too easily or made you look like a chump (a feature I took advantage of more times than I care to count). In short, this game offers excellent gameplay and a great story with lots of possibilities, not to mention replay value.

Score= 88%

mm
I'm a reviewer/writer and sub-editor for Gaming Respawn. Video games, and not much else, are my life and my passion. Human interaction and sunlight are overrated.