Player Choice Matters
When Arkane Studios’s brand new IP, Dishonored, released in October of 2012, it took the industry by surprise with its open-ended gameplay, a beautifully dark world, and a solid narrative. I have poured hours upon hours into various versions of Dishonored, toying with different play-styles and options I hadn’t previously explored before. It was a breath of fresh air during a time that was crowded with linear games, and something I didn’t expect to spend so much time with. Naturally, I was incredibly excited when Dishonored 2 was officially announced, and 2 years later, it’s finally been released. Dishonored 2 does what everything the first game did and more, making for one of the best gaming experiences this year, albeit some technical issues.
Take Back What’s Yours
Dishonored 2 is set 15 years after the events of the original, following Emily Kaldwin and Corvo Attano after the assassination of the empress Jessamine Kaldwin. Emily has taken her rightful place as empress of Dunwall, and is taking part in a remembrance cermemony for Jessamine, when she’s abruptly visited by the witch Delilah Copperspoon and Duke Luca Abele. They attack Corvo and Emily, and here is where you choose who you want to play as. You’re then thrown out, and Delilah takes the throne for herself, as she claims she’s the half-sister of Jessamine, and that the throne is rightfully hers. It doesn’t help that a mass murderer called the Clown Killer, has been targeting all of Emily’s political rivals, framing her as the Crown Killer herself. You then set out to save Corvo or Emily (depending on who you play as) and to get back the throne from Delilah. It’s a fairly predictable story, but definitely enjoyable, with a likeable cast of characters and villains throughout. Voice acting is strong here, and some of the characters from the first game make a welcome return. Most of the narrative takes place in Karnaca, an isle just south of Dunwall. It’s a fantastic setting for the story, making for a more colourful, vibrant, and still dark world to explore. Once again, Dishonored 2 absolutely nails the setting and atmosphere of its world, and I was always incredibly interested in what it had to offer. Smaller side storylines with minor characters are also common, and there’s one in particular that’s very intriguing, which follows Meagan Foster. During both of my playthroughs I paid close attention to her and her dialogue, and I recommend you do the same thing.
An Assassin’s Tools
Part of what made the original Dishonored such a fresh experience, was its unprecedented player choice. You could clear the entire game without killing a soul, and it was this kind of player freedom that made Dishonored as good as it was, and Dishonored 2 takes it to the next level. The first choice you make in Dishonored 2 is definitely the biggest, as it determines who you’ll play as for the 8-10 hour campaign, consequently locking you into that characters set of powers for that playthrough. Naturally, I played as Emily for my first playthrough due to Corvo being mostly the same as he is in the original, and if you have played the original, I urge you to play through as Emily first, as her powers are entirely unique and different to Corvo’s. Choice only goes further from there however, with multiple pathways and options for players to take. You can go guns blazing, destroying and killing everyone in sight, or you can go through the entire game without spilling any blood at all. Both play styles are just as rewarding as the other, and both have negative or positive outcomes on the world around you. Powers this time around are just as entertaining to use as they were in the original, whether it be Emily’s ability to summon a doppelganger of herself, link the fates of two unfortunate enemies, or Corvo’s returning ability to freeze time and summon rats, Dishonored 2 never makes you feel like you’re playing it wrong, and player choice once again takes a front seat. The openness of the levels is also extremely nice and exploring each one is always enticing, further expanding the environment and feel of the world. Once again, runes can be collected to upgrade your powers, and bone charms can be found to gain various buffs. One thing that stood out to me consistently across both of my playthroughs, was the incredible level design and verticality found in each mission. Whether you’re exploring the docks of Karnaca, or the twisted halls of the Clockwork Mansion, each individual mission feels unique and of its own. It was an absolute pleasure to navigate each and every environment, and the verticality of each level is unprecedented. Much like the environments, the missions are incredibly varied as well, ranging from missions involving time travel, to others involving the supernatural side of Dishonored’s world. Various tools make a return from the original too, such as the crossbow and pistol, with new items such as various new crossbow darts. It’s truly fantastic stuff, and I enjoyed every second I spent playing Dishonored 2.
Karnaca, Jewel of the South
I played Dishonored 2 on my Playstation 4 Pro, and my god does this game look absolutely gorgeous. The beautiful water-colour art style comes into full effect here, and Dishonored 2 constantly treats you with amazing visual fidelity, with high quality textures, character models, an environment details. The level of visuals Dishonored 2 achieves unfortunately causes the game to run at 30 frames per second, and while it’s certainly stable, I much would’ve preferred a 60 frames per second experience. Dishonored 2, at least from my experience didn’t hold up terribly well in terms of other technical aspects. I experienced one game breaking bug, and experienced 3 or 4 hard crashes across 16-20 hours of game time. I also noticed that the game’s audio mixing was slightly off, with sound effects coming into play shortly after they were supposed to, and it seems to lack support for surround sound, but I’m sure that can be changed with some fiddling with the settings.
Dishonored 2 successfully takes what made the first game so great, and turns it up a notch, making for an impressive experience drowning in player choice. There’s no right way to play Dishonored 2, and that’s the beauty of it. Arkane should be applauded for crafting such an excellent game, and while it’s definitely got its problems, it’s easily one of the best games of 2016. It has a solid story, refreshing player choice, a beautiful world, and incredible visual fidelity. I cannot recommend Dishonored 2 enough, especially you’ve played and enjoyed the original.
-Unprecedented player choice
-Incredible visuals and art style
-Intuitive level design, that’s refreshing form start to finish
-Solid narrative, with likeable characters
-Game breaking bugs and crashes
Thanks for reading guys! I really enjoyed this one, and I was looking forward to it too so I’m glad Arkane handled it well. Up next is the 4th Episode of Telltale’s Batman series, then Pokemon Sun and Moon!
Thanks again, Harry.