by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
A Glance Back
When the original Dishonored was launched in 2012, players found themselves dropped into the role of Lord Protector Corvo Attano, framed for the assassination of Jessamine Kaldwin and the abduction of her daughter Emily. Emily being the Empress of the Isles, and Corvo her personal bodyguard, the citizens of Dunwall bought into the conspiracy. Through a combination of stealth and violent intent, players made their way through various locales through the city of Dunwall to seek vengeance upon those who wronged Corvo. The subsequent story DLCs would shed even more light on the story from the perspective of the Knife of Dunwall; the alias for the assassin who carried out the contracted hit.
The game was relatively well received, even if it did leave some to be desired in terms of length and a more interesting combat system. If Dishonored 2 is on your radar, but the original slipped by your gaze I highly suggest you play it in its entirety first. Dishonored 2 is not a sequel to be taken lightly, and is heavily tied to the events, characters and locations of the original in more than just references and brief appearances. Okay, all that out of the way *DEEP BREATH* Let's talk about Dishonored 2!
Going into Dishonored 2, I didn't know what all to expect. From the initial reveal trailer, I tried to stay as in the dark as possible. Knowing that we were going to be taking up the mantle of a now-adult Emily Kaldwin was as much of a spoiler as I needed. So when the game begins, and a coup unfolds (yes, again - the Kaldwin's have some terrible luck) I was excited to see that players now have a choice of approach not just in actions, but even in characters. Corvo Attano reprises his role as Lord Protector/All-Around-Epic-Man-In-The-Mask, while Emily Kaldwin takes on a similar masked visage based more heavily in the manipulation of the world around her.
After playing through parts of the game as each character, Corvo is the flavor of choice if you want a Dishonored experience you're familiar with. Otherwise, I say pick Emily. No, really, pick her. As much fun as I had with Corvo, Emily's abilities really bring home the supernatural edge bestowed upon these vengeful characters and the story makes its biggest impact experienced from her perspective. To lose your empire, then to gain it back. It's in many ways a Cinderella story although instead of rags to riches, it's riches to rags to revenge. There's a similar buildup to the climax as the original, players will either be killing or subduing targets through whatever means that are desired. It's very much a game you've played before, just with more polish, more options across the board and a new location.
Far, Far From Dunwall
While the game begins in Dunwall, most of your time will be spent in Karnaca; jewel of the south, and where Corvo Attano was born. Or at least it was a jewel until it fell to the hands of a greedy Duke who began oppressing the people. The rich get richer, the poor become poorer and never-do-wells and would-be-heroes often find themselves on the same side against an oppressive regime, however futile. Or at least their struggle was futile until the player arrives.
Karnaca is what Dunwall could've, and should've, been in the original. While Dunwall had many options to go about your quests, I felt nearly limitless in what I could do to achieve my ends in Karnaca. Whether a main mission or a side quest, I never found myself stuck on the best way to go about it because most of the options seemed perfect. It was more about how much fun I would have getting there. A great example of this comes along early, when you first reach Karnaca. An expanse overlooking a canal offers various interior and exterior routes of travel, and rewards the eager explorer. It essentially sets the tone for the entire game. You'll reach others that stand out quite a bit; the sandstorms of the Dust District, the chaotic-clockwork-manor portrayed in the first trailer and various odds and ends along the way. But options are always readily available, and abundant.
Once again stealth is rewarded more than combat, but combat does feel much more polished this time around. In the original, combat felt like a quick, inconvenient chore. Dishonored 2 does a much better job of making you feel like an overpowered vigilante when you're drawn into a fight. Playing as Emily, it's amazing to shift out of a shadowy form and decimate an enemy, only to take down his allies in quick succession with a neural link. Quick, brutal, and entertaining.
Dishonored 2 may not rank as one of my personal favorites of the year, but it does build greatly upon everything the original put in place. Characters, lore, gameplay, settings... literally everything has been improved upon. The replayability is once again very high, but alas it still suffers from being on the short side if you're not one to plan the perfect approach. Dishonored 2 may not be the best adventure title ever, but it certainly is one of the most interesting.
Character choice, Amazing new location, Highly polished game mechanics
Still considerably short, story leaves newcomers bewildered