Bethesda's next chapter in the Dishonored series finds an older Emily Kaldwin and, her father, Corvo Attano fighting for the empire when an unknown threat attempts to snatch it away from her. Is Dishonored 2 worth the buy? Does it do the first Dishonored game proud? Check out the official review to find out!
Many years after 2012’s Dishonored took place, Empress Emily Kaldwin’s world is shaken when her long-forgotten aunt, Delilah, returns to Dunwall on the anniversary of her mother’s death. Delilah makes her claim on the throne with a violent coup. Meanwhile, a disturbed serial killer terrorizes the Empire by slaughtering all those who oppose the Empress, leading many to suspect the Royal Bodyguard and Father of Emily, Corvo Attano, as the dreaded Crown Killer. These are just a few conflicts Corvo or Emily must overcome to take back the throne and destroy all those that defied the crown.
Dishonored 2 is the sequel to the highly-acclaimed Bethesda title, Dishonored. In many ways, Dishonored 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor. First, being the short mission-based gameplay. Much like the first Dishonored, the sequel can be rather short, depending on your play style. If you’re a completionist, like me, Dishonored 2 will probably take you anywhere from 30-40 hours. However, if you’re the kind of gamer who just likes to get the story over and done with, it can be easily 20 hours.
Another aspect that is similar is the play-style that is completely improvised. Bethesda, known for its play-how-you-want style, keeps it going with the Arkane Studios sequel. The developers give you the option to go through the game with or without powers and to kill or save targets. Each path will create different outcomes in the storyline. Then again, why wouldn’t you play with powers? Especially, with some of the new and old ones that make the game so much more entertaining. Powers, along with the exceptional combat mechanics, have always been the best part of the Dishonored games.
Speaking of powers, the beginning of the game gives you a pretty large choice to make to either play with Corvo or Emily. Unlike what many believed would be an interchangeable system, Dishonored 2 makes you pick one or the other to experience two very different point of views, with similar outcomes. Furthermore, neither have the same powers so it makes gamers choose how they want to play, while creating that replayable aspect. For those who played Dishonored, Corvo might be the more appealing of the two characters with his time stopping, swarm, and possession abilities. Meanwhile, Emily provides a fresh point of view to the games, especially for those who haven’t played the series before. Her explanations and thoughts on seeing things for the first time help the audience to connect with her character. As for her powers, Emily’s favor more toward the stealthier gamer with her Shadow Walk (turning into a quiet shadow demon), Domino (linking enemies together so one death affects everyone else, and Far Reach (able to pull objects and enemies toward her) abilities.
On a story standpoint, Dishonored 2 provides some genuinely nerve-wracking, yet thrilling moments. Mission 3 was especially crazy, as your journey takes you to an abandoned insane asylum where the doctors are experimenting on patients and guards using Bloodflies! The problem comes in the build-up, which is a symptom of having a short mission-based game. One of the early storylines is the Crown Killer one. There is an actual whodunit mystery that causes many to wonder if Corvo is truly involved or if it’s another assassin that will become our equal. Instead of building on this idea, they end the story arc a couple of missions in, making this storyline a bit of a letdown. I understand what Bethesda/Arkane were trying to do. By getting the Crown Killer storyline out of the way, they can get into the meat of the coup, taking down the targets, and reclaiming their throne. Contrary to this approach, it would’ve been better if the Crown Killer had consistently gotten in the way of Emily/Corvo leading up to an epic reveal/climax midway to the end of the game. Doing it their way led to a letdown of what could’ve been a promising storyline. It’s just one of a few story arcs that felt briskly ran through.
Visually, Dishonored 2 is stunning. Even while traversing through the dirty, mucky streets of Dunwall and the crumbling roads of Karnaka, there is a certain beauty to the game. That’s an advantage to the Void Engine Bethesda and Arkane are using, nowadays. Although, that doesn’t just effect the environments of the game. The Void Engine also allows for some incredible assassinations and magical usages, making for an enjoyable gaming experience.
Overall, Dishonored 2 is a good, fun game. It’s combat and missions make for an enthralling gaming experience. Furthermore, the way you can improvise and figure out new and inventive ways to solve a mission or defeat an enemy will make gamers come back for more. However, it’s not without its faults. The game just feels short with a simple, almost typical, storyline that never has time to permeate and grow. The characters are still easy to connect with but the game, as a whole, relies heavily on what happened previously, which can be problematic to newcomers. Fortunately, Bethesda had the forethought to release the Dishonored Definitive Edition with Dishonored 2, for those who preordered the game. All in all, what makes the game, and really what made the first game, isn’t necessarily the storyline, per se. The combat mechanics and the choice of playthrough are what make the Dishonored series worth playing. If that’s what you’re in for, you’ll enjoy most of what Dishonored 2 has to offer. If you’re a story gamer, you may not be as fulfilled as you may like.