Hey hey everyone! So Dishonored 2, Arkane studio’s newest brainchild, has been out for over a week and it has been receiving some glowing reviews. Your old pal Beez, here at the Noobist, is bringing you my initial impressions and thoughts on the gameplay, abilities, and story. Be aware, there will be no heavy spoilers found in this review beyond brief discussion of levels or abilities you can gain further on in the game. Nothing major, because no one likes having something ruined for them.
A Dark and Interesting Steampunk Romp:
Let’s start with a look at the story. The game is set 15 years after the events of the first Dishonored. Brief reminder, Corvo Attano was tasked with bringing those who assassinated the Empress to justice, all while clearing his name and rescuing the future Empress Emily. We are now set in the future of Emily’s reign and a sinister coup has taken place. Playing as either Emily or Corvo, you set out to reclaim the throne and figure out what is happening and who these enemies are.
Early on the game sets us up for an interesting choice, depending on whom you play as (Emily or Corvo) you end up with a different feel for the story. The choice of hero is a permanent one, as in no switching characters based on your fancy, and really helps to set the tone. Are you the deposed young Empress, out to reclaim her throne and prove that you are able to protect it and your empire? Or are you the steadfast protector Corvo, who once again must fulfill his role as Royal Protector, protect his charge, and bring those who have wronged them to an end?
Every level and each mission encourages exploration, and all of them are littered with lore. Books, notes, audio files, and treasures litter each level and how much to discover (or how little) is entirely up to you. But immersing yourself in the game’s story and history really does seem to make Karnaca and its inhabitants come to life.
Abilities and Playthrough Potential
The choice of splitting up the game between Emily and Corvo really makes for an interesting test in strategy. Both members have unique abilities that the other lacks, but that slot together well for your preferred play style. For example, Emily has an ability called Domino that allows you to link multiple enemies together so they share the same fate. So if you are a low chaos stealth based sneak, you can link up to four enemies together, use a sleep dart from up high, and watch them all drop simultaneously. Or if you prefer to let the streets run red with blood; you can use her stealthy shadow walk approach, slink up from behind, rip apart one enemy, and watch the others dismember! Corvo achieves much the same with his Bend Time and Possession abilities to name a few, pulling off Matrix level assassinations with ghostly disappearances.
The ability to mix and match these as you level them up becomes slightly hilarious as well. I have found many instances, wherein, the game allows me to combine abilities and use my environment in a multitude of shifty ways. In the video below you can see a few creative combinations that people have thought up, but I am sure many more exist. As they say, the only true limit is your imagination!
Speaking of the environment, that is another aspect that is kept interesting throughout the game. Each level has different tie ins that make it not exactly straightforward to navigate. One moment you are turned around in the shifting Clockwork Mansion as another wall shift and change. Then the next moment you are slinking through vision obscuring dust storms as enemies patrol all around you. Or dealing with teleporting witches who are littered about the place (a personal favorite level of mine). In addition all of the combinations for vaults, doors, and chests randomized with each playthrough. These are little elements that Arkane has put in that really stretch the enjoyment of Dishonored 2 out, it feels each time you play it truly is a new run through.
Even Showing of Creative Characters
One of the more surprising elements that I found myself enjoying immensely was the wonderfully equal showing of characters. We have a strong female protagonist in Emily, who is flawed in her own way but beginning to realize that she must do and be better for her people. A strong male character in Crovo, who has been a loyal and supportive mentor to Emily, who is protective and steadfast. Then there are the rest. The secondary characters are decently developed, with back stories that have been put together well. Allies, such as Megan Foster or Anton Sokolov, have troubled mysterious pasts but are still endeavoring to do good. Our villains are given background and forethought to the degree that we may be disgusted with them, but we see when and how they went bad. In the case of some, you hope to find ways of redeeming them. It is also a game with a strong showing for powerful female characters! Compared to the first Dishonored, we now see females as protagonists, antagonists, empresses, directors, captains, and prominent medical figures. This makes me happy on a multitude of levels.
Overall, I would rate Dishonored 2 as an enjoyable game with a high degree of replay. If I had to tally some points against it I would say that the idea of deposition from a throne was done before in the previous game, as was the concept of a plague of vermin. But due to the amount of world building and flexibility this game gives me, I am willing to let it slide.