Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Arkane Studios
Genre: First Person Adventure / Stealth
Release Dates: 11 November 2016 (EU & NA)
Price: 39,99€ (Steam)
Four years after Arkane Studio's Dishonored comes the sequel, a bigger, more refined and most important fun game in every possible way, as the game builds upon the foundation of the original and adds enough content to fix almost every problem that the original game had. The story takes place 15 years after the events of the first game, with the now adult Empress Emily Kaldwin sitting on the throne, only to have it taken away from her minutes later by her supposed aunt. This is where the game begins with a character choice, as you can either play as Corvo Attano, the protagonist of the first game, or Emily herself in a quest to gather allies and reclaim the throne from Delilah Copperspoon, the aunt mentioned earlier that cannot be killed due to a spell that either Corvo or Emily must learn how to lift.
Even if at a first glance the plot doesn't seem like anything we haven't seen before in a video game, especially since witches are a common topic, it's the manner in which the story takes off in different directions depending on your actions combined with the ability to make your own stories across the way that makes Dishonored 2 an unforgettable experience. Each mission can be completed in more than one way, opening up opportunities for different strategies and stealth approaches, as an assassination mission can be turned around into a non-lethal approach with enough research and the entire game can be completed by either killing no one, everyone or anywhere in between, but that is only a small portion of the freedom of action and decision that Dishonored 2 offers the player.
There is no right way to play Dishonored, as it is something close to what you would call a linear singleplayer sandbox, as you have complete freedom to roam around the entire area in every mission, often discovering new quests, hidden runes or bonecharms or entirely new characters that might unfold an entirely new page of the story; even after finishing my second playthrough, going into my third I still discovered completely new areas filled with secrets that I never even thought about before and that is what makes Dishonored 2 so special.
Unlike the first game where a rat plague has hit most of Dunwall's citizens, leaving the streets empty, the streets of Karnaca are filled with life and people just normally going on with their day. The best part about that is the fact that you can intervene in their stories, either directly by talking to the numerous NPCs that might give you useful information or entirely new side quests, or by hearing the outcomes of your decisions in the previous missions as NPCs talk about it, on top of the fact that you can pretty much do anything that involves your skills and the basic mechanics, starting with placing items you find around on their heads, cutting the hand of one guy and hitting the other one with it or linking multiple targets together and see how the effect on one target will affect every linked one. There's no shortage of things you can do in Dishonored 2 and there's so much variety in Powers, stealth mechanics, combat and weapons that just trying combining different powers and weapons will often have surprising and satisfying outcomes; Dishonored 2 is one of those games where if you think something should work, it probably does.
There's a huge inventory of weapons and powers that you can find and unlock, and using bonecharms, runes and coins they can also be upgraded for even more crazy effects and combinations. Starting with the basics, both Corvo and Emily will have a sword, a crossbow and a pistol in addition to multiple grenade types, the spring razor, the rewire tool that allows you to hack towers and gates, and a few others that I will leave unspoiled. One great example of how many ways there are to approach a situation is a simple gate, which you can hack using a rewire tool so you can pass right through it, remove the whale oil container so the wall will be disabled, kill everyone guarding the gate or finding a way around it.
On top of all that there are the powers which are not even mandatory to complete the game, as you can deny the powers early in the game, disabling them altogether, but that would be a disservice to Dishonored 2 as they are so much fun to play around with, not to mention helpful as powers such as the Far Reach or Blink can help you reach higher areas, avoiding enemies in the process, while others such as Domino or Devouring Swarm can be used to take out enemies faster and easier; there are also others that can be used either in a stealthy playthrough or an offensive one, such as Bend Time which does exactly that or Shadow Walk that allows you to become invisible for a short period of time.
Dishonored 2 is also a game filled to the brim with secrets, starting with the aforementioned bonecharms and runes that allow you to upgrade your powers and continuing with items worth coins, letters and diaries by different characters, collectible paintings, safes filled with gold bars, armories where you can find special darts, grenades, bullets and so much more. The nature of Dishonored 2's gameplay makes things that you haven't even thought about possible, and that ensures that no two playthroughs will ever be alike.
Dishonored 2 looks absolutely gorgeous and the art style fits the tone and universe of the game perfectly, with lively streets and characters, intriguing and genuine locations and events that feel natural in a populated world such as two NPCs talking to each other about politics or economy. With a few minor exceptions where it feels like some of the textures were heavily compressed for some reason, the entire world looks beautiful, especially on a 4K display, but even with that in mind it should be mentioned that those areas are usually out of the main path where few players would naturally adventure on the first playthrough.
The effects are on point with the artstyle as no power seems out of place, but instead is made to feel natural and to allow the player to move more freely around the environment and experiment with the many mechanics the game has to offer, something that I assume most players will do. The animations work flawlessly and realistically as you can kick enemies out of the window, throw them from a ledge or stick your sword through them as you jump them from above, and in each one of those instances their bodies will react naturally.
The fact that you can play as one of two different playable characters means we have two main characters, and even if the sequel doesn't feature such big Hollywood names as the first game did with the likes of Lena Headey, Carrie Fisher or Michael Madsen, the difference isn't something that bothered me, and probably most people didn't even know those actors were in the first game until I said it, but the sequel has its cast of amazing actors as well, even if they are less famous. Sadly, Chloe Moretz didn't reprise her role as Emily Kaldwin either, the role instead going to Erica Luttrell, whose voice will probably be recognized as the voice of Emily Kaldwin from now on. As for Corvo, since he didn't have a voice in the original game the role goes to Stephen Russell, who does a fantastic job portraying and older, wiser but still just as feisty Corvo Attano.
One of the most memorable things that I remember from the original Dishonored is the soundtrack, with tracks such as "Drunken Whaler" being stuck in my head for days, and luckily the soundtrack is just as good in Dishonored 2, and the team at Arkane Studios even made an achievement around it called "Songs of Serkonos" where you have to find multiple street performers and listen to their songs. The sound effects are on point for both weapons as well as powers, and on top of that you have the sound of the streets which include birds singing, vendors moving their merchandise and people talking, just as it would normally sound.
Dishonored 2 is the type of game that you just have to play at least two times to see all it has to offer, especially since a stealthy playthrough feels different from a heads on all guns blazing one, not to mention the ability to play with or without powers, the multiple endings and choices for each mission and the countless areas and secrets that you can find in each map.
There's easily 30 hours of singleplayer content here and even though there isn't a multiplayer mode that's probably for the best since it wouldn't make any sense in the world of Dishonored, at least not in this one. However, there's more than enough content here to keep players occupied for a while and even if after 50 hours I have unlocked all the achievements, I expect to come back to this game once again in a couple of years just to play around with the mechanics and the world some more.
Dishonored 2 is a fantastic game and a must play for any fan of the genre, its mechanics make it probably the most fun game to play mechanically since Skyrim and the whole game serves as a fantastic example to prove Bethesda's point that singleplayer games are not dead, which they clearly are not, only expanding into bigger and better experiences as time goes by.