Dishonored 2 Review
- Plenty of reasons to play through the game more than once
- Character model art style still feels like it’s placed in the world as opposed to being a part of it
15 years after the events of Dishonored, a new threat compromises the throne of the Empress Emily Kaldwin. Emily’s evil aunt Delilah Copperspoon (heavily featured in DLC stories ‘The Knife of Dunwall’ and ‘Brigmore Witches’ from the original Dishonored) begins the story staking her claim to the throne after the assassination of Emily’s mother 15 years ago. This is where the game splits paths, and it’s up to you to decide whether to play as Emily Kaldwin or her father, the antagonist from the original Dishonored, Corvo Attano. Once deciding, Delilah locks away the other character, and an epic story begins where it’s up to you to stop the empire from succumbing to the way of the witches. The story in Dishonored 2 feels very similar to the original Dishonored, which is definitely not a bad thing.
The original Dishonored was set entirely in Dunwall, and fans will remember an industrial whaling city, the capital of Gristol, and the Empire of the Isles. Although you begin your adventure where Dishonored left off in the Empress’ tower, you are soon thrust across the seas to Karnaca, or as the locals call it, ‘The Jewel of the South at the Edge of the World’. Karnaca has a much more Mediterranean feel to it, while still sticking to the industrial steampunk style of the Dishonored world. The buildings are taller, the massive port appears to be sweeping as you sit in your ship just out of view of the looming enemy that awaits.
Dishonored 2 is a game that feels like it should be open-world but isn’t. A truly open-world Dishonored game must be on the horizon, and we’d love to be able to explore the cities in the Empire at our own pace without feeling like there’s an ending to each section of each mission. Essentially Dishonored 2 is broken down into segments where you are tasked from getting from point A to point B. While there is usually a lot to do in between, the game still feels quite linear in that regard. At the start of the game you have barely any abilities, but after locating a few runes and bone-charms, you soon begin to create the character that you want to be. All perks are immediately available to begin unlocking and upgrading, and you’ll soon find yourself slipping through the shadows and sneaking past enemies to reach your objective.
The Dishonored 2 world does feel a lot more lifelike than its predecessor. There are plenty of civilians wandering around the neutral zones, some of which will offer valuable information. The transition between these friendly areas and hazardous areas is very distinct, and you’ll definitely be aware of when you need to keep your head down. In case you haven’t guessed by now and haven’t played the original game, Dishonored 2 is a game of stealth. Although the developers will argue to the end of the earth that you can Play Your Way™, it still appears that being sneaky and stealthy is far more rewarding and how the game is intended to be played. Whether you can actually do this or not is another question entirely. At the start of the game when you are still unlocking and learning the abilities, the only way to remain unseen is to keep your save file up to date and reload each area of the game. It proved to be incredibly difficult to stay hidden at all times, and while there are plenty of secret passages and hidden entrances scattered throughout Karnaca and Dunwall, there were still a lot of dead ends that you could become surrounded in.
At the end of each mission you’re informed of how lethal and stealthy you are, and this largely depends on how many enemies you killed or alerted. You are then given a low chaos or high chaos rating. This affects the ending to the game, and the low chaos ending does appear to be happier, however it doesn’t really affect your game (as it’s already over). As this review was being written, Arkane Studios announced an update for the game in December which will feature a New Game + mode, allowing you to go back and play through the game again and get the alternative ending, and with so many different ways to play through Dishonored 2 there’s no reason not to. It should also be noted at this stage that the game takes about 10-15 hours to beat, depending on how quickly you move through each of the missions.
As mentioned, at the start of Dishonored 2 you choose whether to play as Emily Kaldwin or Corvo Attano. While some of the key abilities are available for both characters, some potentially game-changing abilities are only available for one. Emily, for example, has the Domino ability which allows you to link up 2, 3 or 4 enemies to behave the same as each other. Take one down, and the rest will mimic. Shoot one with a sleep dart and they’ll all fall asleep. She also has the Doppelganger ability where she can spawn a mirror image NPC of herself. You can then upgrade the ability to switch between the two at will, confusing the enemies as you go. Corvo on the other hand has the Bend Time ability where he can immensely slow time and defeat enemies in battle quite efficiently. He also has the Possess ability, allowing him to possess rats and other creatures throughout the world. Rats can be quite useful for sneaking through vents and past enemies. The way Arkane Studios has placed key abilities on each character means it’s almost irresistible to not play through Dishonored 2 more than once. When they finally make that open-world Dishonored game, hopefully it will be like Grand Theft Auto V (and the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda) where players can switch between characters anywhere in the world at will.
Everything from your health and mana to how quickly you run, walk and shadow-crawl is customisable and upgradable in Dishonored 2, and you’ll find yourself so spoiled for choice that you won’t know what to upgrade first. Each mission has a merchant that sells supplies and upgrades, and you’ll find yourself reliant on visiting them in each mission to ensure you purchase what they have. The abilities versus the level of difficulty in Dishonored 2 really assist in Arkane Studios’ Play Your Way™ style. On one hand you can pretty much button mash your way through most of the game with your sword if you really want to, on the other hand you’ll be dying for every last upgrade in order to move through the missions unnoticed.
Arkane Studios has paid a lot of attention to detail in Dishonored 2, from little things like spinning globes to the massive port of Karnaca having a beautiful choppy ocean effect, the game looks absolutely gorgeous. The character art style is also stunning, with all the main characters standing out as being unique in their own right. All the NPCs have that steampunk themed vibe to them which fits perfectly with the story and the world around them, the only issue is that the character models don’t actually look like they’re in the world. There’s something about the guards as they walk around that just doesn’t fit. It could be that there are two different teams working on the environment art and the character art and they’re not synchronised; the original Dishonored had the same issue. It could be the fact the characters all look incredibly sharp and move quite quickly, there’s just something about the quirkiness of the Dishonored franchise where the models don’t line up with the world. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but does detract from the feel of the world as you attempt to pass through it seamlessly.
All the voice acting is top notch, particularly the playable characters and key NPC’s such as Duke Luca Abele and Meagan Foster. Both of those characters are voiced by actors with amazing resumes including movies like Men in Black 2, Sin City, Clerks 2, Full Metal Jacket and Jurassic World just to name a few. With an all-star stellar cast for the voice acting, it was disappointing when the final cut-scene started to roll. The voice which narrates the end to the epic adventure of Dishonored 2 sounds like a teenager putting on his best “I’m cool so listen to me” voice, recorded on a potato in a bathroom. You’ll understand when you get there. An interesting choice by Arkane Studios to say the least.
To sum up Dishonored 2, Arkane Studios prove once again that they have what it takes to create an alternative to the mainstream of AAA games we see released towards the end of every year. It’s been four long years since we experienced the birth of Dishonored, and we hope Arkane spends just as much time on polishing the next one. Although Dishonored 2 didn’t feel quite as open-world and non-linear as we were hoping for, it still provided plenty of reasons to play through the game more than once, if not several times. With key decisions throughout the game affecting the world around you, and an epic story which changes based on the developer’s Play Your Way™ algorithms, Dishonored 2 stands out from the crowd in several ways. If you’re tired of the war shooters and open-world adventures, and/or never got around to playing Dishonored, jump in to Dishonored 2 … it could be the game you’ve been looking for.
Dishonored 2 was reviewed on a EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW Gaming ACX 3.0 and hovered around 60FPS for the entire game, crashing once.