Released around four years ago, the original Dishonored was a masterpiece in it’s own right. The game featured a mix of clever open-ended levels, phenomenal gameplay, player choice and an engaging and believable tale of one man’s quest for revenge. It also didn’t hurt that the city of Dunwall was a haunting beautiful location in itself, and one that still manages to astound us till this day. With that being said, you might have already guessed the expectations people had for it’s Sequel.
Set fifteen years after the events of the first game, Dishonored 2 tells the story of both our new protagonist Empress Emily Kaldwin, and returning badass Lord Protector Corvo Attano. After a very rushed opening cutscene where we are introduced to the game’s primary antagonist Delilah Kaldwin, players are given the choice of playing as either Emily or Corvo, with their first task being to leave Dunwall behind for the city of Karnaca. What follows next is a brief encounter with the Outsider, equipping you with the abilities needed to wreck havoc on your foes.
The new city of Karnaca is a beautiful open landscape comprised of big labyrinthine buildings that intertwine amongst each other. The coastal city is absolutely breathtaking from the moment you first arrive on shore, but a closer look reveals the rotten underbelly of a city rife with corruption and decay. Apartments infested with Bloodflies and corpses, the Grand Serkonan Guard cold bloodedly killing a civilian by pushing them into a Wall of Light, are just some of the atrocities you are behold to in you first few moments in the city.
It is in this playground that you are free to run wild with you powers, either choosing to employ brute force or to utilize a more stealthy approach. Just like in the previous game, actions have consequences that not only affect the game world, but also the game’s ending. For instance, while playing a High Chaos walkthrough a certain small section of the city was barricaded, hiding a nest of Bloodflies, dead bodies and ruined shops caused by the increased amount of enemies I had previously killed. While in a Low Chaos walkthrough, where I had chosen to only incapacitate my enemies, the very same section was open to walk through with a guard standing watch instead of a few corpses.
The powers themselves are also very varied between the two characters. Emily places an emphasis on stealth with abilities such as the menacing Shadow Walk that makes her much harder for enemies to spot and Mesmerize that can be used to distract guards so she can sneak on by without them noticing. The Domino ability allows her to link the fates of multiple characters together, so whatever happens to one happens to the rest of them. Even her base traversal Far Reach ability works differently from Corvo’s, only allowing her to tether onto surfaces in the world as opposed to teleporting anywhere while using Blink.
Corvo himself on the other hand retains his old repertoire of classic powers such as Possession and Devouring Swarm, with minor upgrades to each such as the ability to pause time while using Blink in mid-air. Each of these abilities can be used to devastating effect when properly mastered and upgraded.
Combat itself is just as satisfying as ever, utilizing the same mix of tools and weaponry with cleverly placed traps. What’s new this time around is the increased options for non-lethal players, allowing you to not only force enemies into a chokehold upon parrying, but also the ability to switch out death from above assassinations with a harmless alternative that only knocks them unconscious. What this means is that unlike the previous game where getting caught might have meant an end to your non-lethal streak, this time around you still get a chance to control the situation before it escalates further.
Speaking of upgrades, Runes and Bone Charms also make a return to the series, with the latter being more customizable than before. While runes still serve the same basic purpose of upgrading your character’s powers, Bone charms can now be recycled to create new ones via a new crafting system. Simply put, scrapping a Bone Charm rewards you with Raw Whalebone and also allows you to learn its properties. You can then mix and match these properties to create your own customized Bone charms that fit your playstyle. While not really a feature that anyone other than hardcore fans of the game might utilize, it does add a level of depth and customization to the gameplay.
The enemy AI is also much more responsive this time around, going out of their pre-determined paths to investigate even the slightest of movements and disturbances. They don’t all flock to the nearest loud noise either, with the elite units preferring to stay behind and observe as opposed to rushing in thoughtlessly. They are much more threatening, utilizing a wide array of tactics and feints to better defeat you, which makes subduing them that much more rewarding and enjoyable.
But no matter how much praise I throw at the game, there are a number of technical hitches that need to be addressed. Occasional frame rate dips, stuttering, and getting stuck inside random corners were just some of the problems that I encountered. One particular incident occurred during my second playthrough where my character started speaking in the voice of Corvo, even though I was playing as Emily.
In conclusion, Dishonored 2 is a remarkable game that builds on the successes of its predecessor while still managing to add newer and better features. The bugs that plague it, while not all game breaking, are largely forgivable in light of how easily they can be patched and how good the game itself is. Its also not often that you hear of a sequel to a major triple A title managing to surpass the original, and Dishonored 2 is a prime example of how to do it right while still honoring that which came before.
Dishonored 2 is available now for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC. It was developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
Dishonored 2 Review (Xbox One)
Dishonored 2 is a prime example of how to do a sequel right. Everything that made its predecessor amazing is here, and it's better than ever before. If you liked the original, you're sure to love this one.