Dishonored 2 Review

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Dishonored 2 is the latest release from Arkane Studios/Bethesda.  Known for their in-depth RPGs, they certainly don’t disappoint with this one.  Dishonored 2 is a direct sequel to Dishonored which came out in 2012.  In the first title you took control of Corvo Attano, the Royal Protector of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin in the fictional city of Dunwall.  The story revolves around you being framed by members of the ruling class and government for the assassination of the Empress and the consequent kidnap of the Empress’ daughter and heir to the throne, Emily Kaldwin.  Corvo, after being imprisoned, then has to work his way through the city of Dunwall, gradually taking out everyone who betrayed him and bringing Emily to safety.  Dishonored 2 takes place 15 years after the years of the Rat Plague that inhabited Dunwall at the time of the first game, a frequent point of reference for the time traversed in the first game. In the sequel you play as either Corvo or Emily and fight to regain your throne from the usurper Delilah, one of the antagonists featured in the Witches of Brigmore DLC from the first game, as she storms the throne room on the day of remembrance for Jessamine Kaldwin, summarily freezing whoever you choose not to play as in stone as a partially living trophy to keep at the foot of the throne.

As I mentioned, the two main protagonists you can choose from are grizzled, battle-hardened veteran Corvo, Royal Protector of many years and feared assassin; or Emily Kaldwin, Corvo’s biological daughter, trained to kill almost as well as the Royal Protector himself, lethal and stealthy, she makes an equally strong choice.  I personally chose Emily for my first run through the game, as I wanted to try out the new character, and she comes complete with a whole new set of powers, and in turn a new play style.  You can of course play any way you want with either character, but some abilities lend themselves to specific play styles more than others, such as Emily’s Mesmerize ability, which is useful for tying up groups of enemies in order to sneak by totally undetected, although this can just as easily be used to assassinate all of the mesmerized enemies; but other abilities are more suited to that as you might expect.  I am now on my 2nd play through of Dishonored 2, using Corvo this time, and I personally still prefer playing with him, mostly because his movement based power, Blink, is more accurate and predictable than Emily’s variant, Far Reach, which acts as a slingshot and drops off at range leading to messed up transportation.

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The main antagonist of Dishonored 2 is a witch named Delilah Copperspoon, although it is discovered in one of the opening scenes as Delilah storms the throne room, that she is the previous Empress’ long lost sister, downtrodden and pushed into insignificance through her illegitimate means of birth.  Her story leads on from the Witches of Brigmore DLC from the first Dishonored in which you play as the Assassin Daud, the killer of the Empress, and are guided by the mysterious Outsider, a kind of deity, towards the name Delilah.  Daud is lead to the witch Delilah and foils her plot to inhabit Emily Kaldwin’s body using powerful black magic and supernatural abilities given to her by the Outsider.  She then returns in Dishonored 2 with a vengeance and the same goal of gaining dominion over the Empire by usurping Emily’s throne.  I personally would have preferred to see a different storyline or even just a different antagonist, as I feel like Delilahs story was played out well at the end of the DLC for the first Dishonored.  Regardless of that, the story does a good job at making you feel involved and I still ended up vying for Delilahs head on a spike as the narrative builds up throughout the game.

Another part of the Dishonored series that I have always loved, and has resulted in me playing the Dishonored 1 campaign through countless times, is the richly detailed lore available scattered across the world.  Even factions that only play a relatively small part in the games, such as the Bottle Street Gang in the first game or the Howlers in the sequel.  Each of these factions are fleshed out nicely, both with leaders that have their own backstories and nuances in their character to make them interesting and add more layers to the world, and it really does add a great deal of immersion.  For example we have Paolo, leader of the Howlers gang who inhabit the Dust District of Karnaca, but he isn’t just an average gang leader, he uses black magic charms to augment his physical prowess and grant him two lives in one day, meaning he has to die twice in a day to die completely, his first corpse instead dissolving into a swarm of flesh-eating rats that attempt to devour the player if you strike Paolo down.  I personally find interesting little bits of gameplay like this awesome, they really draw me in and I’m always excited to find new parts of information about a character from a previous mission a few hours down the line, adding even more back story which is often relevant to the current mission as well.

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A big staple of the Dishonored series is the Chaos system.  The Chaos system is based on how many kills you get throughout your play through of the campaign, or adversely how many lives you decide to spare.  This system works to give every mission a really interactive feel.  For example, if you decide to go on a High Chaos run and butcher every guard and civilian alike without a moment’s hesitation, then as you progress through the missions the environment and attitude of the civilians around you will change; there will be more Bloodfly infestations (the local insect scourge), more corpses and destruction all around you, or in Dishonored one, more Weepers (people infected with the Rat Plague of the time) and huge rat swarms roaming the streets devouring people.  As well as passive environmental changes, the ending outcome of the game is drastically different depending on whether you’re a butcher or a paragon, but I’m not one to spoil endings.

All in all, Dishonored 2 is my favourite game of 2016 for a number of reasons.  I was extremely impressed by the amount of depth and detail shown in every tiny facet of the game, I was fully invested in cutting a path through every guard and member of Delilah’s coup and enjoyed every moment of it to its fullest.  I thoroughly enjoyed wrenching heads from shoulders and separating torsos from hips all the while throwing men across rooms with powers of the void and incinerating reinforcements with incendiary bolts and grenades.  The story, while feeling a little bit dry for veterans of the first game and its DLC, was still engaging as you might expect from a Bethesda RPG, and I would fully recommend this game to anyone looking for an enthralling Stealth RPG encouraging peace but rewarding massacres all the same.

Rating 9

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@brashgames.co.uk.

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