In the arena of stealth and action games, Arcane Studios’ revenge tale Dishonored took the world by storm with its stunning visuals and darkly sinister setting; it definitely made its mark among dark gaslamp fantasy/steampunk-themed video games. The recently released followup, Dishonored 2, takes everything that made the first game great and multiplies is by two, allowing you to play as Emily or Corvo, each of whom has their own distinct and varied skillset.
The story begins 15 years after the first installment. Someone called The Crown Killer has been slaughtering old enemies of our hero Corvo Attano and framing the royal family for the murders. Emily Kaldwin, Corvo’s daughter, has assumed the throne as Empress of the Isles. Her ascension to the throne, however, is hindered by the appearance of her long-lost aunt, Dahlia Kaldwin. Dahlia claims to be the neglected sister of the late Jessamine Kaldwin—the former Empress of the Isles, mother of Emily, and former lover of Corvo. In an immediate and swift coup, Dahlia seizes power using her own dark abilities and the help of Emily and Corvo’s own allies. This scathing betrayal sets the stage for the remainder of the game.
Dishonored 2 doesn’t hesitate in bringing players up to speed with the previous installment’s main events, so players who are unfamiliar with the world and background details need not fret. You are not only given the option of playing the campaign mode through the eyes of the classic hero Corvo but also Empress Emily Kaldwin. The character that remains unused will be frozen by the vicious Dahlia and will have to be rescued by your protagonist of choice.
Both Emily and Corvo have their own unique set of skills that make the experience all the more engaging. While Corvo’s abilities from the previous installment – animal possession and teleportation – make their reprisals, we are introduced to new abilities with Emily. One such ability Emily can gain is called Domino. With this ability, players can link enemies as one so that whatever happens to one happens to all.
This is indicative of perhaps the most outstanding feature of the game: variety. The various approaches that can be taken make this game so much more fun to replay. Players are allowed to either brutally slaughter enemies on missions with a plethora of weapons and traps, ranging from crossbows to stun mines, or sneak around enemies and knock them out with sleeper holds or even tranquilize them with sleep darts.
Players should also be mindful: the AI is no joke. For instance, if players decide take out a guard from a distance, the nearest guard will react accordingly. The guard will either investigate or alert other guards who will launch a full out, relentless attack until the threat is neutralized. How players engage enemies is a very integral part of the outcome of the story. So whether you decide to kill guards, be merciful and knock them out, assassinate major enemies or find alternative ways of dealing with them, it will affect the game ends.
Although the storyline is virtually identical to the original (a betrayal, overthrow of power, and rescue mission) the game makes up for it with missions that emphasize freedom of choice and variety. Whether choosing sneak or destroy everything in your path, the details in the scenery are pretty breathtaking. From the Rift where you meet The Outsider to the oceans surrounding the Empire of the Isles, the graphics are stellar. Whether in Karnaca or Serkanos, much of the setting outside of the industrial city of Dunwall is reminiscent of the Southern European architectures of Italy, Spain, and Greece (from which they are modeled).
Dishonored 2 isn’t just worth playing, it’s worth playing again and again; no two playthroughs are the same. With items such as bone charms and runes lying around just waiting to be found, players will be tempted to revisit levels to find them and increase their powers. Whether taking in the beautiful scenery or deliberating on how to be as utterly chaotic or as stealthy as possible, this game will truly occupy your time.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Reprise your role as a supernatural assassin
Graphics - 10/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Story - 7/10
The Good: Addictive and engaging with ridiculous variety of ways to enjoy the game itself wrapped in beautiful graphics.
The Bad: Cliche storyline makes the outcome of the game rather predictable and dull.