A highly anticipated sequel.
The original Dishonored from Arkane Studios was a bit of a surprise success, coming along and mesmerizing players with its dark, steampunk world and plentiful choice of how to play. Well, Arkane have now launched the sequel which seems to take the best of the original game and build upon it, offering the player a toybox of opportunities in a fleshed out world.
Dishonored 2 is set some fifteen years after the events of the first game and begins with a memorial celebration for Dunwall’s former empress, Jessamine Kaldwin. Her daughter Emily, all grown up, now rules as empress and Corvo remains as protector. A serial killer stalks the city, killing those who oppose Emily, leaving many to believe that Emily or Corvo are involved. As if this wasn’t enough of a pain, the memorial event is disrupted with the arrival of mechanical soldiers and a sharp looking woman called Delilah who claims to be sister to the late Jessamine.
Delilah, along with other conspirators, claims the throne for herself, and it is at this point that the player is given the choice to continue the game as either the original Corvo, or the now fully grown, and very capable, Emily. The character that the player doesn’t choose is turned to stone through some nefarious magic and the chosen character is then taken away and put under guard. From here, the player is given choices as to how they escape and go about sorting out this right royal mess.
That first choice that the player is given, whether they play as Corvo or Emily, will not make a huge amount of difference to newcomers. For returning players, choosing Corvo will give a familiar feel as players will already have some knowledge of his abilities, such as his teleportation and possession skills. Playing as Emily will be a new experience, although not that much departed from Corvo. However, messing around with Emily’s telekinetic ability and the brilliant Domino, which allows the player to connect enemies so that anything happening to one will happen to them all, offer exciting new possibilities in how to approach situations.
In fact, it is the wealth of possibilities that makes Dishonored to so enjoyable. At its most simplistic, players can choose to approach the game as a stealth adventure, or they can use all manner of great weapons and abilities to play the game as pure action. But there are so many little variations that players can truly play as they want. If fact, with the use of manual saving, there are often times when it is tempting to reload a save and try something different.
Of course, the choices that the player makes in how they play will have an effect on the game. For example, more killing will mean more infestations of Bloodflies as they feed on the bodies left behind. certain paths may become more difficult, and passing conversations can change, limiting the intel that a player can have access to. It should also be noted that the AI in Dishonored 2 is particularly astute, so the player will need to be able to adapt to situations as they arise, as the stealth approach is made more difficult by aware guards. One instance, my stealthy approach was foiled by a guard with very good vision and the only thing I could think to do was run, full pelt, past a huge number of guards to safety. Sure, I could have dealt with the situation differently, but panic took over and it was the only thing I could think of. Quick thinking players will find Dishonored 2 particularly satisfying.
The possibilities in Dishonored 2 don’t only come from the thoroughly enjoyable skills of Corvo and Emily, but also from the environments. The majority of gameplay in Dishonored 2 takes place away from Dunwall, instead in the much less grungy city of Karnaca. While not an open world game, the different areas of the game are so filled with options for the player, with things to find and routes through the area, that it feels open. There are some absolutely amazing set pieces, such as the Clockwork Mansion area, that offer a great variety to the game, and everything feels alive in a menacing, threat around every corner, way.
With around 20 hours of gameplay, Dishonored 2 is a good sized adventure. Add to this the replayability of the two different characters, different approaches and multiple endings, and players could find themselves losing a lot of time in Dishonored 2. While much has been made of the technical issues of the PC version, playing Dishonored 2 on the Xbox One has been a reasonably flawless experience, with only a little occasional slowdown evidence of any problems.
Dishonored 2, much like the original game, is an inspired adventure. Expanding on the choices of the first game, this sequel gives players everything they need to play the game how they want, and the chance to discover new ways to approach any situation without much by way of boundary. It is complex game that is beautifully made, and ideal for both the stealth fan and those wanting something a little more action based.