My initial thoughts on Dishonored 2 highlighted a lot of the similarities on it and the original. But after spending more time with it, I can now say that it got good. Really good.
The player has the choice of playing though the title as Corvo, protagonist of the original Dishonored or chose Emily. Corvo retains his powers from the original such as Blink and Devouring Swarm while Emily has a more refreshing arsenal of powers which are more in the realm of subterfuge like Doppelganger and Domino. This choice is permanent and there is no switching characters mid-game or swapping out of any kind, so choose wisely.
Although it’s likely that many players will give it a single playthrough before putting it down, taking a vested interest in completing the title a second time grants plenty of rewards. Luckily, I am a sucker for multiple endings so am more than happy to play more than once. I definitely felt Corvo the most lethal of the pair, just something about him screamed, Murder Everything. I chose Emily for my first, non-lethal, attempt and Corvo my second. The shift from the original title was more palpable as Emily especially her Domino power.
Domino allows the player to link multiple enemies together, transferring the fate of one to all. A highlight of this was a time I messed up my stealth approach, but still managed to chokehold a guard. Afterwards I quickly linked four guards together only then to have an elite guard target me with his pistol, pull the trigger and fall down dead himself. The guard in my arms was shot dead as where his two friends. It was an absolutely amazing moment and one that could only exist in Dishonored 2. Chaining together incredibly skilful and interesting takedowns has been a huge part of the Dishonored gameplay, with many players recording some truly masterful executions.
The locations are varied enough to keep a player tantalised, each one highlighting some despicable trait of the industrialised setting the game takes place in. You’ll see gutted whales whose oil is used to power the city and communities choked in dust from the mines nearby. Work in the world of Dishonored 2 is never ending and harkens back to the grim time of the Industrial Revolution when profit was everything and corruption was rife.
The story involves a conspiracy revenge plot, having clear targets to take down as end of level bosses. These are just ordinary men and women which leaves your preferred method of disposal very open ended. Be it crossbow bolt, mechanical sword, or turning into a being of pure shadow and tearing their head off; the choice is yours. There is also the option of, well you know, not killing them and instead ruining them in other ways. I won’t go too far into it, but turning an arrogant mad genius into little more than a simpleton through electroshock “therapy” is grimly satisfying, but not without the ambiguous moral upheaval that avenue provides.
Would it have been best to just end his life, or resign him to a life of idiocy? A similar conundrum faces you when you take on the witch. Do you kill her or sever her sorcerous powers, leaving her just another nobody? These facets of the game serve to truly keep the player invested in the goings on and their actions within
My personal favourite thing about the Dishonored franchise though is the clockwork heart.
The heart is an otherworldly artefact housing a spirit that highlights Bone Charms and Runes that the player uses to add abilities and stack their skill trees. What is unique about this artefact is that the player can point it at an enemy or civilian and it will deliver a throwaway line detailing a particular secret that person is keeping. It has absolutely zero effect on the circumstances within the game, but adds a layer of ugliness to the inhabitants. It also manages to deliver heartfelt observations about the adversaries of the player. This may go unnoticed by a lot of players, but as someone who appreciates the art and nuance in things, this was a significant treat.
The AI is vigilant and quick to anger and it only takes a few deft swipes of their sword to end you. Blocking and parrying will come into play heavily for players who prefer a more violent approach. This highlights more of the weighting towards the surprise assassin element of Dishonored. Corvo and Emily are much more adept and lethal at conducting lightning quick strikes, while chaining powers from the shadows than they are in open warfare. The pistol you carry will rarely see action apart from shooting down wooden obstacles that hide treasure. That and they are loud as fuck. Not really conducive to stealth.
Players will feel intrigued by the choices that can be made, alongside the beautiful explorable locations and not to forget the expansive in game lore. The choices make for a much more interesting second playthrough for a title that I can barely put down as it is. Knowing that I can pick it back up again and play it completely differently, makes it even more difficult.
Dishonored 2 was reviewed on PS4 using a promotion download code provided to PowerUp! by Bethesda.
Game title: Dishonored 2
Moral Conundrums - 9/10
Robotic assassins - 8/10
Magical powers - 9/10