Dishonored 2 Review
The original Dishonored game was received by fans with lots of hype, and for the most part, it delivered a wonderful, somewhat linear action/stealth title that was not only fun to play, but had universal appeal. It was and wasn’t stealth, and it was and wasn’t action. To be frank, it was whatever you wanted it to be. The same can be said for Dishonored 2, except this time there is way more to be excited about.
Choices from the Start
The obvious choice in Dishonored 2 is whether you will play stealthy, or go in for all out hand to hand combat, whether you will use your magical abilities, or go without. The amount of choice in this game is outstanding, and every area of the game can be explored in any manor you choose. You are never forced to go all out stealth, nor are you ever forced to fight hand to hand. You do what you want, when you want to do it. And based on the achivement lists, you could complete the whole game without coming out of cover. It is fantastic!
However, as it is 2016, that probably is not the biggest choice the game offers up to you. Unlike the original Dishonored, you are not forced to play as Corvo Attano, but can alternatively play has his daughter, Emily. Both characters play a bit differently – more so on the magical side of things – so playing the game more than once, from each persepctive, not only changes some of the story dialogue, but also the way you attack each problem.
A Good Setting and Story
The original Dishonored had you trekking around a dreary and dark city. Things get a little more optimistic, at least from a far, as you enter a picturesque seaside city of Karnaca. From the outside, it looks great, but once you walk along the streets and allies, it is far from perfect.
It has been 15 years since the original Dishonored, and once again things are in disarray. Emily rule as the current Empress of the Isles is challenged by her aunt, who quickly establishes a harsh anarchy which Emily or Corvo must take down, almost completely alone.
There are a number of side characters that you will encounter throughout, including a lovely one armed sea captain. Each side character has enough charm to keep you interested, without overshadowing the main protagonists.
There are very few flaws throughout this 18-20 hour adventure – doubled if you play it through as each character – and the controls only help create an immersive experience. Everything can be mapped to the d-pad for quickly changing between weapons and the heart – used to track down and pinpoint ruins and other powerups. Each of the weapons works well, although trying to balance a ranged weapon and your sword at the same time comes with a small learning curve. Instinctively, I zoom and aim with left trigger and fire with the right trigger. Things are different here, as there is no aiming, just firing.
The variety of weapons will aid with a specific play style. The bow and pistol are really interchangeable, one being much more important if you choose to play in the shadows. Both pack a powerful punch without being too overkill. There is a slight learning curve to using any of the magical abilities both Corvo and Emily possess, but with some practice is does quickly become second nature.
Powers can be upgraded by collecting ruins around the map; some of the late game abilities are particularly great. For example, you can eventually unlock and ability for Emily that allows hers to link enemies together and kill them all. The way you kill one of the linked enemies is the way the others will die as well. All the magical abilities are beneficial in some situation throughout the game, so unlocking them all and being aware of what you have available to you is of the utmost importance.
Weapons can also be upgarded by collecting currency lying around the game world and purchasing upgrades via the black market. There are tons of upgrades to get, and while none of them are necessarily mandatory, they can make a huge difference in how you complete the game. Once you’ve chosen your weapon of choice – i.e. the pistol over the crossbow, or vice versa – you can focus your upgrades to that one weapon. Overtime, these upgrades to become costly, and money is not always readily available unless you spend countless hours picking over every building and street corner.
To Explore or not the Explore, that is the Question
When I originally said you could play Dishonored 2 almost any way you want, I really meant it. The environments you will encounter are wonderful to look at and are filled with things to do and people to talk to. Each level also has optional side quests as an alternative way of completing your task. Sometimes these side quests are out in the open, but often you will have to go looking for them.
How much you explore in Disonored 2 is really up to you, but should you choose to do so, you will be rewarded for it. There is lots to see in Karnaca and you could spend numerous hours just walking the streets looking for ruins and loot. You curiosity will decide how much you explore.
Graphics and Audio
The sounds in Dishonored 2 are top notch, and developer Arkane has pulled out all the stops in that regard. Karnaca feels like a city that is alive; while so many other games produce cities that feel very passive and static, Arkane found a way to make me believe that Karnaca is a living, breathing city. Although most everything is on some type of cycle, it often never feels that way as you move about the streets.
The voice acting is also top notch throughout.
Graphically, Dishonored 2 looks outstanding, and almost every aspect of it is detailed and fine tuned to create an immersive experience you won’t soon forget. The only downside to this title is the character facial models which I found particularly bad, especially when the dialogue often didn’t match the lip movements. This is a minor gripe to what is otherwise an upstanding title.
Choice is the name of the game in Dishonored 2, and my experience with the game has been phenomenal all around. I’m currently on my second play through as I try to finish the game with Corvo. With so much choice, and so few hand holding moments, Dishonored 2 might be the game to beat this holiday season on the Xbox One and PS4.