Few games get me excited as soon as they’re announced, however, when I heard that we were getting a sequel to Arkane Studio’s Dishonored, I was more than a little ecstatic. And now that I’ve played the game for myself i can say that I was definitely not disappointed! Now then, i’d like to take a moment and go over some of the aspects of the game that i felt are the most important!
For those unfamiliar, the Dishonored series is a pair of stealth/adventure games in which the player controls a supernaturally powered assassin through an immersive, semi-open world. Throughout the game, choices you make will determine how the game world evolves around your character, and ultimately the ending of the game.
When it comes to Dishonored, freedom of choice is the bread and butter of the series, allowing you to find your own paths through each of the game’s levels, which are each rather large and open! There are always multiple ways to progress, whether that may mean fighting through a horde of enemies to go in the front way, or sneaking through shadowy halls in order to catch your foes by surprise.
As i mentioned, when it comes to dealing with enemies in dishonored, you have 2 major options, stealth, or combat. If you choose to adopt a stealthier approach, you’ll most likely take a bit longer, however, you’ll be rewarded with the game’s “Good” ending. Stealth can be a bit difficult due to the first person format of the game, requiring you to make sure you’re well aware of your surroundings. The combat in the game is fast paced and intense, as well as very smooth and satisfying when done well, requiring you to go one-on-one with your enemies using your sword.
In addition to your sword and stealth, you’ll be aided by a wide arsenal of tools and weapons, including grenades, pistols, crossbows, mines and more, these allow you to vary your approach to the problems you’re given to solve. In addition to items, you are also armed with a variety of supernatural powers, which can be upgraded along different paths, further allowing you to customize your character.
Speaking of which, this time around, the game allows you the options between two different characters: Moody and Nostalgic Royal Protector, Corvo Attano, the protagonist of the first game returns, using the same arsenal of powers as before, as well as coming in with a brand new voice! Or, you may choose to play as the young empress, burdened with responsibility, Lady Emily. The character you choose will determine
- Which powers will be available for purchase
- The reactions you will hear from your character
As you progress through the game, your choices will cause Emily or Corvo to speak differently about things, choosing mercy makes them more hopeful, and gives them a much kinder tone, whereas a Merciless run will end with them in a very dark mood.
If you’ve played the first Dishonored, you’ll vividly remember the dark, rat infested streets of Dunwall, and in fact, the game takes place there….in part! However, much of the game is set in a brand new, exotic location, the Isle of Karnaca. Karnaca is a land inspired by the mediterranean, full of beautiful seascapes, bright, vibrant ports and lush jungles. Of course, most of your work happens indoors, which allows you to see the differences between the old setting and the new. The game’s setting goes out of it’s way to show off the state of the world, in one level, you may be exploring a large, posh mansion, filled with exciting treasures and machinery, or fighting your way through an all but abandoned district, filled with those desperate for power and wealth. The variety you experience in the game is very exciting, and each level feels unique! Many of the levels have their own special features, such as sandstorms, changing layouts, or even time travel!
It’s going to be difficult for me to talk about the plot of this game in depth without giving too much away, however, the game tells the story of a father and daughter trapped in a game of politics and magic by a powerful witch and her compatriots. Despite the options for choosing your characters, unfortunately the game’s story does not strongly differ between either, even dialogue is mostly the same, at least on the NPC’s ends. However the game still manages to make each character’s experience feel unique by giving them both different internal monologues as well as diary entries, and mission briefings. Both characters approach their mission somewhat differently, one with a strong nostalgia and single minded determination, and one with insecurity and a fear of what she might become.
The game’s world is also crafted in such a way that it tells stories that are detached from the main narrative, snippets of conversations, people you observe on the streets, and of course a full library of books, papers and letters let you dive deep into the world itself as well as it’s lore. One important note to make, MUCH of this game’s story involves ideas that were first introduced in the DLC of the first game, which i very much appreciated, making things come back around to form a full circle.
My only grievance with the plot however is it’s length, the game feels like it has much, much more to build up to, however you come to the end much faster that expected, it seems to me personally that the resolution is very much tied up in with the climax of the story, if it can be said that there was a single climax and not just constant rising action.
Now, i’ve always been resistant to the idea that graphics make a game, and of course, ultimately the gameplay, plot and setting all are by far what truly make a game shine to me. However, In a game like this, where being a part of the world, affecting it and interacting with it are so central to the game’s focus, the graphics can in fact, make or break the game, and in the case of Dishonored 2, they make it! Everything in the game world is rendered beautifully, which really helps the bright and vibrant world of Karnaca come alive! Everything about the game, from the beautiful backgrounds of the isles, to the incredible Clockwork Mansion really seem to pop from both an amazing art and color direction! My only issue with this tends to be that the character design style stands out from the rest of the art and can be a bit jarring at times.
Now, one thing I cannot go without mentioning are the characters in this game. Not only are they deep individuals with their own unique perspectives and lives, they’re also just very, very well written, not even just the main character’s either! Each shopkeeper, each mission-giver, even many random passers by feel alive. Of course, i’ll focus mainly on the main characters of the game, and one thing i have to enjoy about it, is that it is FILLED! FILLED with strong, well written women, and not just fighters, we have witches, painters, smugglers, doctors, and even a disabled woman of color! Weak, powerful or unsure, all have their own distinct selves, and definitely gives you a sense of realism in the game. Many of the main characters from the last game return, though perhaps not in the same capacity. You get to see how the events that transpired in the last game affected them as people, though regrettably some characters simply don’t get enough screen time to become fully realized.
Overall, Dishonored 2 was a very strong game that made an excellent sequel to one of my favorite games ever, I very strongly hope the folks over at Arkane and Bethesda continue doing what they’re doing!
Final review- 8.5/10