Bethesda’s sequel to the acclaimed Dishonored has been high up on my list of most desired and anticipated games since it was announced at E3 in 2015. I would rank the original in my top 10 games of all time and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this latest installment from developer Arkane Studios.
In this sequel, we once again are able to become the supernatural assassin, Corvo, and journey through an entirely new continent and world space. What made the first Dishonored special was the ability to choose to fight your way through your foes murdering and slaughtering anyone who got in the way of your goal, or alternatively you could sneak your way around, like a shadow, never seen or heard. Or even a blend of both as you see fit. It was this choice that cemented Dishonored’s legacy and made it such a great game. Dishonored 2, like it’s predecessor, reacts to your decisions and play style, which results in a personalized and unique experience with interesting and intriguing outcomes.
Dishonored 2 opens similarly to the original, with the Empire once again in turmoil and in the throes of revolution and malaise. The Empress, Emily, is overthrown in a coup, orchestrated by a proud and vain witch and her retinue of robotic assassins. However, unlike in the first game, it is here in which a choice is thrust upon you: whether to play the game as the newly-deposed Empress, Emily, or her father and Royal Protector, Corvo, who on a side note seems to be an awful bodyguard as both of his sovereign lieges have been killed or deposed respectively. If you have played the previous game, in addition to its two story DLC: The Brigmore Witches and Knife of Dunwall, then this opening is adequate and comprehensible, if a bit rushed. On the other hand, if you have not played the original Dishonored then this introduction will require a lot of inference and detective work to work out what is going on. However, if you haven’t played the original Dishonored, I would highly advise you to, as it is relatively inexpensive and will provide you with key insight into the universe of Dishonored and its many colorful characters.
Excellent stealth games rely on both great and unique level design and sophisticated and reactive AI, and this is the area in which Dishonored 2 truly excels and surpasses the original. The levels and areas in the game are designed in an open and spacious way, which ensures that the levels feel more like real places, rather than just a two-dimensional area in which the developers can place mission objectives. Guards will, of course, freak out at the sight of bodies, but the guards also react to subtler suggestions of a disturbance such as an ajar door or a missing guard for example. They will judiciously search beyond their predetermined routes once they discover something which is out of place or unusual. The stealth gameplay feels more organic than is usual with games such as this, and the stealth is far more compelling than in other recent titles, such as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
One thing which I thought was a great improvement on the original was the placement of the runes. (Runes are ‘gifts’ from the Outsider which grant the protagonist their special powers) The runes were in more secluded areas, which one would only possibly find through a thorough exploration of each map. Every located is packed with life and the gossip of NPCs provide useful information for the player to utilize during their missions. There is also dozens of books and letters littered around, which add extra depth to the world. One such letter between a butler and a cook highlights how they console each other about the treatment they receive from their brutal and sadistic master. They discuss how badly they are treated and express a wish that they could escape, but also dread about losing their job and being thrown out onto the street. These small interactions and pieces of lore provide the player with greater immersion, as the world seems more alive and vibrant. Every detail adds another thread to the increasingly complex tapestry of the world of Dishonored.
For me, the story was, unfortunately, one of the biggest let downs of this game. The original game was a never ending rollercoaster of twists and turns and even the odd surprise is thrown in for dramatic effect. But Dishonored 2 does not have the same magnitude and the story in several places is predictable and therefore rather stale. This disappointment may be due to the insurmountable expectations which the first game had left me with for its sequel. The story is not bad, but it is lacking in key areas. Also, rather strangely, the voice acting at times was subpar. Many of characters’ voices seemed bland, with little emotion or passion in their dialogue, which took me personally out of the game.
Another issue with the game was the numerous graphical glitches which plague the game. I played the game on ultra graphical settings and I encountered such errors as white lines appearing in darkened rooms and in one case walls began to flicker and move slightly. This left me with the impression that the game wasn’t fully complete, and required those final finishing touches to make the game truly great.
In order to not finish on a negative point, I did appreciate the inclusion of Emily, in order to provide a unique experience for the player and add an extra layer of replayability. Emily has a series of different powers, some of which are incredibly fun to use and it most certainly allows you to show off your creativity. Domino, for example, links targets to the same fate, so if you kill or incapacitate one they will all either be killed or knocked unconscious. One incredibly satisfying and unique combination of powers is linking both Doppelganger and Domino. Doppelganger creates a clone of Emily, which acts as a decoy. You can use your Domino ability on your clone and watch as the guards kill your decoy, only to be slaughtered due to their own actions.
The gameplay is also familiar, but it has been improved in several different ways. The choice was always a major theme of the original game and this has carried over to the sequel. Normally, you will have at least two ways to complete the main objectives of a given task – more often than not it will be either killing the target or trying to find another way of disposing of the target.
In conclusion, Dishonored 2 both surpasses the original in some areas but equally in some areas it falls short of its predecessor. The games main selling points are its detailed and intricate maps, which allow for endless hours of exploration and the ability to play your own way with a story that adapts to how you want to play. Dishonored 2, while in my opinion not as good as the original, is still a great game and well worthy of playing for those who want to be immersed in an immense and rich world, full of intrigue and complex puzzles.
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First Released Nov 10, 2016 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
|Playstation 4||Xbox One|