Dishonored was a very big surprise hit for me. For a few reasons, one being that it totally came out of nowhere for me. The other, because playing through this multiple times lead me to coming away with two very different experiences. The first time I did more aggressive and killing, the second, sneaking and stealth. It was the first time I felt a game truly offered a different core experience depending on my playstyle. Does Dishonored 2 continue this feeling? Yes oh yes!
Dishonored takes place 15 years after the events of the first title and Emily Kaldwell has control over Dunwall, though not for very long. The Duke of Serkonos and Delilah Copperspoon soon pay a visit, claiming that Delilah is the sister of Emily’s deceased mother. Things don’t look good for her or Corvo and right from the start, players get a choice. Play as series veteran with some already established and new move sets or take on the role of the now matured Emily and experience her newfound powers. The decision ultimately puts the other character not picked, sealed away and included as part of the storyline, a bit disappointing as it would have been nice to switch between the two in levels but I’m nitpicking at this point. I appreciate a game about choices, consequences, and decisions factoring in throughout the experience even from the start.
For that that never got to experience the first game, let’s explain just a bit about what Dishonored 2 is about. The first game takes places in Dunwall and while players will get to experience that location in a limited capacity, the true staring character here is the coastal city of Karnanca and its inhabitants. Forgoing the dark and dirtier Dunwall, Karnaca is colorful, prettier, and more vibrant than ever. Don’t let that vacation like setting worry those concerned about the game prior dark vibes disappearing. Karnaca has plenty of darker sides to its beauty.
Dishonored 2 continues to serve the first person stealth action extremely well with a multitude of ways to play, discover, and choose. Each level and hub area offering an extremely huge assortment of ways to progress or move forward and ultimately knock out the designated target. One time it might be possible to take a more direct route, another might have players sneaking through a building filled with deadly flies. Both resulting in leading the player to a new area, yet totally different ways to get there. This is just one of many ways that the game offers an absurd amount of choice in deciding what powers to use, how to proceed, and ultimate leaves the power of choice in the player’s hands. In videogames this is an extremely powerful feeling and Dishonored 2 nailed it just like the first game did, but even more so.
Dishonored 2 keeps to its roots though and almost to a fault. That’s not to say that Dishonored 2 doesn’t bring along a bigger, more robust sequel because it does. From bigger hubs, better graphics, more powers and ultimately more choices. It’s everything that players could want from a new entry in Dishonored. Though there are a few things that might make some see through the cracks. For example, the rats were a factor in the original game concerning the low or high chaos rating. Remove the rats, replace with blood flies. Same with the low or high chaos. Arkane Studios took small chances overall to the core idea and themes with Dishonored 2 and instead only expanded them all. It’s not a bad thing at all but the most prevalent negative I could find with my experience and could only wonder what might have come from the game if they went a bit further with their new ideas. Elements like time distortion, or transforming mansions make for some very intricate missions and themes, or idea behind them. Yet they only last as long as the missions do and left me wanting more, in a good way. Having played some of the game on Xbox One and PS4 Pro, the notice in performance issues and blurriness was noted though neither consoles have a perfect framerate at times. The PS4 Pro clarity in textures was definitely an improvement for the better ultimately though.
Dishonored 2 has been an absolute joy of a game to explore and play. The world of Karnaca is extremely interesting not only from a visual standpoint but from a lore experience. So many little details in overheard dialog, notes, and secret shortcuts hidden. Yes the story elements are typical and as far as cut scenes and direct exposition seem fairly normal in today’s gaming world, much like Dark Souls though the lore and stories told not directly to players be inferred from the world and notes, make the experience something much more memorable and the world that much more enthralling. The combat is intense and while hard, rewarding. Stealth style goes a long way to making key moments feel even more intense as attempting to ghost an area is extremely satisfying. Yet I can mix these gameplay styles up on the fly and cater my experience to how I want to play. Leading to a game that is both extremely fulfilling and highly repayable. Dishonored 2 is one of my best gaming experiencing this year.
An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for review purposes.