At the beginning of Dishonored 1, as Corvo Attano, you were framed for a murder of of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin and then you have to save the Empress’s daughter from her kidnappers and then clear your name by proving those that are rightfully wrong. 15 years later, you’re at the side the new Empress Emily Kaldwin whom has been revealed to be your biological daughter. During the ceremony honoring Jessamine, a coup takes place almost immediately and now the Royal Protector and Empress must now defend themselves from their attackers. That is start of your journey in Dishonored 2 and it’s up to either of them to set things right and make their enemies pay.
The whole premise sets you on the path of revenge or one where you won’t give into your killing urges and submit your enemies with a more passive manner hence without getting your hands bloodied. Much like the previous game, you given the freedom to choose on how you wish to undertake the mission either the stealthy manner or you go in swords swinging. From the get go when you start, this time around you are given the choice to either play as the Royal Protector Corvo Attano or Emily Kaldwin. Once chosen, you will be be in their shoes throughout the rest of the game until the end. Corvo retains pretty much all the powers from the first game while Emily has her own sets of powers that slightly differ than Corvo albeit on its application usage of it.
One power that you may very well use the most at all times is Blink for Corvo or Far Reach for Emily higher ground like rooftops or high ledges which happens to be a lot throughout every level you go through. All of these alternative routes also lead to many Runes which helps you to upgrade or give alternative properties to each powers. Apart from that, there are also Bone Charms and Corrupted Bone Charms (introduced during The Brigmore Witches DLC) scattered around the level much like in Dishonored 1 but this time around now there is an introduction of Black Bone Charms. This bone charms carries stronger affects compared to their normal counterpart without the having any negative side effects. Apart from that, Corvo and Emily has also been give the ability to craft bone charms which you are able to merge of two different kind of powers into one bone charm thus freeing more space for at your slots thus enabling you to equip more combinations then before. This really give players the ability to be able customize the bone charms that would complement their set of chosen skills which enhances gameplay experience. In addition to that, the game also gives you the option to play without any powers which actually gives players a different sort of challenge which gives a good amount of replayability.
On the subject of gameplay, Dishonored 2 in some ways doesn’t deviate itself too much from the first game. You still have pretty much the same arsenal weapons such as the foldable sword the pistol as well as the crossbow whereby you can also change the different bullets and arrows to either incinerate your foes or put them to sleep. You also pick up small and short side quest that you do to that also goes along with your main objective from Black Market vendors or you can just pick it up by eavesdropping. It does gives a sense of diversity where you are opening up more options to complete your objective without going through straight up style of doing things. Though I personally wish they added more of this as they don’t really come very often but rather sporadically and at times they are either easily missed or they come up a little later then it should.
Apart from the similarities from the first game, one of the few things that felt different albeit at smaller unnoticeable effects is the combat. The combat has not change at all actually. R2 is attack, R1 is block, Triangle for leaning, Circle for crouching which enters you into stealth mode. Everything is pretty much the same as its predecessor. What felt different is when you’re attacking. It felt tighter especially swinging the sword. It doesn’t feel as floaty as the previous game. Blocking in the game also have improved. When you block at the right moment, you will automatically grab the enemy like you would when you sneak up behind them and you either use them as a meat shield or you can dispose them right away lethally or stealthily. It’s not a game changer but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
Other improvements were felt in the level design in the game. Karnaca felt larger, brimming with life and vivid compared to the quiet, still and grey that is Dunwall. Routes in Karnaca seemed less consistent which lends the feeling that there is more to go around with and gives the impression of an open world feel though in actual fact it is not. The life in Karnaca also seemed to have done well where each resident you walk pass has a story to tell which really enriches the feel of the city. As much goodness can be said on the people of Karnaca, It can’t be said the same on our family duo. Corvo and Emily don’t sound as real towards the ins and outs in Karnaca , at least on an emotional level. Everything they say during the course of the game rather one dimensional and carries no weight. It is pretty much like they are reading it off the script. The staleness in voice acting goes along on either low or high chaos runs which really doesn’t feel like you’re actually playing a changed character based on your actions in the game. Yes do they spout out different lines depending on the route you choose but the feeling to it is rather the same.
Enemies you meet mostly consist of the usual guards and gangs and occasionally a couple of dogs and watches but to me the best one are the Clockwork soldiers – towering and menacing figure which actually has a field of vision at the front and the back which can be difficulty to approach them without proper planning. However as you progress, you will find most of them aren’t actually the brightest and don’t actually pose a challenge considering their reaction as they are limited to their tunnel of vision. In other words, you don’t exactly have to perfectly hidden well so long you are at the range of their vision, you will be like a ghost to them. They do get alerted with footsteps especially when you are sprinting but the reaction is slow enough for you to subdue them before they spot you. They become an easier fodder once your powers have been fully upgraded.
Another thing to comment on from what I felt seemed like an oversight is the fact game feels more rewarding when you’re playing it stealthily. When one choose to play like pure on berserker, it doesn’t exactly portray strongly the effects of your actions and some point the effects seemed rather alike if you choose to play the game in a stealthy manner. It also apparent throughout the level design being put in the game whereby the richer fulfilling experience seemed to cater more towards the stealthy approach. I mean it really feels like a very rewarding experience when you finally put your planned moves to get to the next point without getting spotted. Even more so the placements of Runes and Bone Charms, despite that you have an item that allows you to see the locations of them but there are times I actually stumble them purely out of self-exploration and it is rather good sense of achievement even though it’s a small one. It also gives a sense of appreciation how the developers put some thought into the placements of these items as they seem to be often found at places that has some story in it, e.g. the home of a known Royal Protector.
Dishonored 2, looking at it as a whole, is actually a very well-crafted game. It may not possess the most amazing graphics or it may not have the most amazing gameplay that could blow the rest out of the water. What it does well is giving the players a set of tools that work well for its level design without putting any restrictions on players. Furthermore, it also encourages players to experiment powers that actually complement one another to form a sort of combo and as a result, it one that could leave players grinning. At hindsight, everything there is in the game seems limited but it is enough to give players an experience they can simply enjoy from start to finish.
- A variety of powers to choose for both Emily and Corvo
- Rewards for those that decide to go stealth
- Level design is rather stunning
- Combat feels extremely tight and responsive
- Variety of ways to play each mission
- Voice acting is very sub-par especially Emily and Corvo
- Enemies aren’t very challenging
- Visuals though stunning, can still feel dated at times
- High Chaos play through doesn’t feel rewarding