When Arkane Studios released Dishonored in 2012, it wasn’t just showing respect to the tricky stealth genre. Rather, the developer was laying the foundation to something even better. Dishonored 2 builds upon that groundwork, surpassing every aspect that we came to love with the original title.
The sequel takes place 15 years after the events of the first game. While the introductions highlight previous plot points to bring everyone up to speed, having played the first game proves useful in catching storyline details as you make progress.
That being said, Dishonored 2 is yet another tale of revenge mixed with local politics. It’s unlikely that you’ll lose yourself if you decide against paying attention to the simplistic plot.
Dishonored 2 is mostly set in the southern port city of Karnaca. Emily Kaldwin, now older, rules over the kingdom of Dunwall as Empress with her father Corvo Attano acting as royal protector. On the anniversary of her mother’s assassination, the Duke of Serkonos removes Emily from her throne with the help of a coup. The witch Delilah Copperspoon takes over as the new Empress, claiming to be the long-lost sister of Emily’s mother.
Hence, begins the story of Dishonored 2 as our protagonists attempt to reclaim the throne while starring down a long list of traitors, conspirators, and just about anyone who was involved with the usurpation.
What you do with them when the moment arrives is entirely up to you. Would you rather let the small fries escape as you take down the bigger fish, or cause discord to bungle their political schemes? Perhaps you’ll side with the darkness and prey upon everyone involved with the coup, or maybe retake the crown without shedding a single drop of blood.
At no instance does Dishonored 2 enforce you into submission. Too many games these days nonchalantly talk about giving players the freedom of choice. You get to see that played out in Dishonored 2 in its truest form when doing the most simplest of errands. Even a mere task of eavesdropping will have you deciding between multiple arrays.
On that note, the gameplay of Dishonored 2 is much more challenging compared to the first game. The sequel tests your patience at every turn. There’s no need to rush into things, an element that Arkane Studios has carefully crafted into the distinct world of Dishonored 2.
Every mission setting is superbly designed, igniting curiosity in the player to seek the most safest route as possible. The AI of Dishonored 2 is relentless. They can parry and dodge attacks, throw projectiles, call for reinforcements, and even flank you unnoticed. Most of the times, the enemies will simply rush at you without any hesitation. There is no wandering past guarded corridors, fooling enemy patrols, or hoping that the AI will be too dumb to notice bodies on the floor. Getting caught by more than one of them is pretty much game over.
Dishonored 2 is stretched across nine chapters and each mission, at its core, involves infiltrating a heavily secured building to identify, locate and deal with an individual. Of course you’ll still have to decide the target’s fate but soon after will also have to scramble for a potential exit.
As straightforward as that may seem, it’s not. As such, you’ll be going through the same series of tasks every time but will rarely be burdened with monotony.
The expansive hand-crafted level design, combined with available weapons and supernatural abilities, encourages you to scout ahead before making any rash decisions. Ultimately this means great value for players as every mission can be played through differently.
You look for alternative entry points, such as jumping across the roofs to drop in through the skylight or scaling up the walls for an open window. Listen in on conversations to know about possible sewer entrances, side-alleyways, or secret doors. You can observe enemy patrols to sneak past their line of sight. It’s all up to you to explore and decide accordingly.
Dishonored 2 makes sure that you respect stealth tactics. Using powerful weapons can certainly help you deal with foes but will also sound off to alert nearby enemies. The slightest miscalculation in observing enemy routes can and will prove dire. While the most daring can always opt to murder every single individual there is, the game’s stealth mechanics offer the necessary tools to be one with the shadows of Dunwall. That is, if you can master them.
Reiterating the level of difficulty, Dishonored 2 can be frustrating at times and you’ll often find yourself replaying the same mission over and over again. However, the satisfaction attained upon a successful completion is simply delicious. Setting aside failures, you’ll likely replay the same mission just because you discovered a better way of dealing with the target during your progression.
The world of Dishonored 2 has two forms and both are visually stunning. Depending on your actions, the streets and rivers can remain clean or run red with blood to reflect your murder sprees. As beautiful as the port city looks at the beginning of the game, it can turn into a dark place if you succumb to bloodthirsty revenge and forego mercy. There’s nothing more eerie than sneaking through gloomy alleyways, with rats abnormally following you around every corner.
Your actions and the amount of chaos you spread mount up to the game’s ending. Violence and bloodshed will leave Emily and Corvo with a dark and dangerous world, as well as reflecting on their personalities once everything is over.
In short, what Arkane Studios has managed to achieve with Dishonored 2 is incredible. It’s a shame that the PC version took significant flak at release due to technical issues. The game is since then more stable with recent patch updates, and if you held on to your purchase, now is the time to take a trip to Karnaca.