Dishonored Definitive Edition brings the original 2012 release of Arkane's stealth-action game to PS4 and Xbox One owners, alongside the three DLC packs. But just how well has the game been ported to new consoles and does it warrant a £29.99 price tag?
Initial impressions aren't brilliant. While the game certainly looks sharp running in 1080p, a nice jump over the 360/PS3 versions, there's certainly no sense that the game has had a big upgrade. It wasn't until I looked over footage of the 360 game that I could see the clearly improved textures which display far more detail than the previous generation systems allowed. Sadly the frame rate remains 30 FPS, like the original console releases, and that is by far the biggest issue with this Definitive Edition. Considering the lack of changes to the visuals, a higher frame rate should have been a given.
The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches are two excellent pieces of DLC that are well worth playing, telling the story of Daud, while the Dunwall City Trials offer 10 challenge maps to test your skills. They don't make up for the fact that the game is visually so similar to the original, but they certainly add some value.
Dishonored is a great game that doesn't quite achieve excellence, and this collection is the best way to experience it all on consoles, but the port simply offers a crisper image and more defined textures. There's very little reason to buy this if you've already played it, but newcomers will still find a very entertaining title if they embrace the stealth mechanics.
Version Tested: PS4
Abridged version of our original Dishonored review - Author: Martin Gaston
My initial journey into Arkane Studios' layered jaunt was spent inelegantly plonking a sharpened blade through the face of pretty much anyone who got in my way. But playing like this just isn't nearly as fun as skulking around, remaining hidden from view.
So, after a few hours, I knew I had to restart the game and take the longer, stealthier option. The ever-so-slowly approach through Dishonored's watercolour backgrounds sits best with the tone; in opting for either a non-lethal or silent murderer approach, you can drink in all the opulence of the game's fascinating and varied environments, which is easily Dishonored at its most engaging.
There are multiple ways to go about its mission objectives - though they basically boil down to being either loud or quiet - but the game really excels when it's in the shadows. The melee-led bouncy sparring works best in rare, emotive bursts rather than sustained throughout the game's nine missions, and ultimately if you're looking to pick up Dishonored to give people a good thumping you might want to reconsider as there are far more suitable alternatives. In short: play stealthily.
Your conduit to all this retro-tinged face-stabbing, gentle exploration and shadow-lurking is Corvo Attano, a mute protagonist who wears his distinctive skull mask when out on his errands. Our protagonist has been slighted by a rebellious Spymaster and his grisly entourage, blamed and (briefly) imprisoned for the murder of the Empress while the land of Gristol lies in ruin. But, hey, these things happen, and it's all a jolly good excuse to fire a few bullets and slash a throat or two hundred. No hard feelings, eh?
Corvo's abilities are split between his left and right hand, allowing you to either dual-wield a sword and crossbow or pistol, or a magical spell. Chief amongst Corvo's magic spells - and the only one that's absolutely mandatory - is Blink, a short range teleport ability that's as easy to use as it is satisfying, allowing you zip around, escape detection or whoosh yourself close to an enemy for a surprise kill. You can even use it to break your fall from a great height, which is enormously satisfying. Other blasts of magic allow you to possess creatures and people, slow down time, summon a plague of rats, see enemies through walls and conjure up a blast of wind.
This all feeds into the game's signature moments, where you square off against your key targets. There are usually a few opportunities to do away with your primary foes, from simple combat to environmental hazards and third-party intervention, and if none of that takes your fancy there's always a non-lethal opportunity that often results in a fate so nasty it's arguably the cruellest method of all.
Arkane Studios' effort isn't quite as clever as it needs to be: it doesn't really build up to anything momentous, or have anything special to say, and it's particularly galling to see a world that's been so painstakingly created not live up to its potential when it comes to narrative and context. While the game comes with a Chaos mechanic, which alters the bleakness of the environment and the eventual ending, it never impacts the game's events in the way it should. Whereas Deus Ex: Human Revolution asked players to consider the very role of man, then, Dishonored's biggest attempt at a flourish comes from a twist so obvious you can see it coming from a hundred miles away.
This is a solid single-player adventure, but it's just a shame that Arkane Studios didn't make more of Dishonored's obvious potential. There's plenty of posturing, and the occasional promise of greatness, but ultimately the only part of Dishonored that has any real point is the end of Corvo's blade.