- Arkane Studios
- Bethesda Softworks
- FPS, RPG, Platformer, Puzzle
- Single Player
- Playstation 4, Xbox One
Getting into Dishonored 2 is like putting on a familiar pair of jammies only they are new, have extra padding, more comfortable and definitely a more natural fit. I have no other way of describing it than saying it is a very similar experience to the first game but it is expanded in a way that only improves it.
Game Story (may contain small spoilers)
Despite the fact that the ending of the first game resulted in my entire future being determined till my death and being buried in the royal graveyard, the second game continues a number of years after the events of the first one. Considering the Outsider often mentions additional paths people can take depending on your actions it is not completely unreasonable to believe that that ending was only one possible outcome for Corvo. It assumes you played through the first one in high chaos or at least gives the perception of a high chaos play through. We begin the story (if you do not include the tutorial that is now a separate mission) on the anniversary of Empress Jessamines death, a usurper comes in and trusted companions are murdered in front of your eyes. Now you make the most important decision you could in the entire game, Corvo or Emily, who will be the protagonist in this epic tale of betrayal and redemption? There doesn’t seem to be major story differences from what I can tell between the 2 kinds of play-throughs, although the paths available and power options are very different and perhaps would lead to different play styles. Even the option of going powerless is available now. For reason better left unsaid Corvo is stripped of his powers and has the option of accepting them once again from the outsider.
No matter the choice you still have the option of being a completely stealthy or murderous individual, although both paths are harder now as AI is noticeably improved on enemies. Both in the way they fight and the way they scout out an area. They notice when a commanding officer is kidnapped and remain on high alert for quite some time after that. AI’s traditionally sit on a loop, making them predictable but now it seems a standard guard patrols a route (as they would be ordered to do) and “elite” enemies tend to have some variation, be that smoking at a window or simply turning on the spot and stretching.
Side mission and added extra’s with in a mission feel as though they reward a player more, whether with tangible rewards such as: runes, charms or raw whale bone, alternatively you can be rewarded with blueprints to gain upgrades or master work upgrades to your gear. As I’m doing a ghost run though some of my side quests had to be undid with a good old load because I only found out later those two scoundrels were trying to break into a black market shop with a bomb that inevitably kills said black market shop keeper.
The game tests skill and wits in fast paced action and stealth sequences but there is even an opportunity to bypass almost an entire level if you take the time to solve a logic puzzle, a rather intense logic puzzle. Fret not for the more direct approach rewards you with runes and an outsider shrine so you might be like me and explore the entire level before going through the door anyway.
Odds and Ends
When we speak about what a game added we normally only mention the “game” stuff, but this diserves mentions: They added a quick save/load feature on the base esp menu, not only that but they made it controller friendly, simply holding a trigger performs a save/load. Beyond that it’s adaptability to your input of choice is spot on, I seamlessly switch between keyboard and mouse and controller without having to go to a menu or relaunching the game, this cannot be said for all games.
The game keeps permanent track of your stats so if you are trying for a ghost/mercy run it is easy enough to see when you have to load if you aren’t 100% sure you got past that one guard without alerting him. This is especially useful against the clockwork soldiers.
Mechanically speaking they kept everything from the first game (from what I could tell) but they refined everything. The stealth system saw minor changes but mainly in the form of how enemies react and investigate when they catch glimpses of you. Removing whale oil from a barrier of light causes suspicion and removing a troublesome commanding officer can lead to a group of guards stopping everything to search for an intruder. Don’t even get me started on the new clockwork soldiers as they are the most difficult enemy to sneak past successfully, have vision spot both in front and behind as well as being armoured and extremely difficult to remove from any equation.
They expanded the power system to not only utilize the upgrades from the first game but they added in alterations, for instance a blink power used to be upgraded to simply a further blink, while that is still in the game you can now add on a time stop blink ability. When used correctly it lets you chain blinks together in mid-air, as long as you aren’t physically moving your character (gravity not included) time stops while you aim your blink, giving you a lot of time to setup that perfect heist or possibly escape.
Emily’s repertoire of powers is completely different (the staples of blink and dark vision are the same although they have different upgrades) which allow her to take different routes and tactics to eliminate targets.
In the first game there came a point where I really did not want to track down all those bone charms as they were mostly useless. Now though collecting them, even the bad ones, results in resources to create new more powerful charms. Even the ability to combine charms into stacked versions of the originals. The base level of crafting allows for the possibility of creating corrupt charms (which can be found in the levels as well) which contain not only great perks, often more powerful than normal charms, but they contain a downside as well. E.g. More health but slower movement.
A small note I thought I should add, they added a captivating new item for part of the game, so as not to spoil the surprise completely let’s say that it forces you to think 4 dimensionally. To great effect it is comparable in complexity to the clockwork mansion level.
Moving onto weapons they kept the base game but like with everything else it got upgraded, expanded and improved. There are more non-violent options available to us as players as well as a reason to actually use the pistol when going for that stealth run. Yes, the noisy pistol now has select case uses that will not break your ghost run. Stun mines and sticky grenades, toys and fun for all ages!
Upgrading them sports the same upgrades as the first game but not to sound like a stuck record… THERE’S MORE! Every new item contains upgrades, there are variations on upgrades as well as secret masterwork upgrades that can be unlocked through completing side quests.
If it isn’t clear to you yet, the developers went to great lengths to provide us with an experience that doesn’t make us forget the first game, but uses it as a foundation to expand an already rich universe with advancements and creative new enemies, items and environments. (Personally I think Karnaca is a beautiful addition to the world)
Geez so with all the work they did on the game play and mechanics you might wonder where they cut corners. It definitely was not in the visuals department. The game runs at a beautiful 60fps AT 4K! The levels are wonderfully detailed, with creepy bloatflys and a wide array of character models for your standard guards. As you would expect there are “repeated” people in the world but wide spread enough that it wasn’t blatantly obvious. Our main characters though have intricate details hinting at their back stories that is slowly revealed as you sneak into bedrooms and read journals.
Facial mapping is on point and the voice acting is believable, best noticed in Jindosh. The arrogance seeps through every syllable and the fact that he voices the clockwork soldiers’ narration of what they are doing works perfectly in the setting. Other notable voice remarks are found in none other than the guards, as they fight you to take you down, or begin panicking as you make them disappear one by one. All this adds to a sense of immersion and realism that completely enthralls me.
I loved it, every part of it. All the frustrations and hours spent simply watching guards move around a particularly complex room. The combat was fun even though I simply rewound time (good old save load) to continue my low chaos run.