+Revisions to the core games mechanics have been heavily improved upon
+Gameplay between both Corvo and Emily offers very different games from before
+Each level feels entirely new, refreshing, and even more exciting than before
+Excellently uses story-archs from the previous title
-None at this point
When I first sat at QuakeCon 2015’s opening ceremony with my dad (Vice President), I sat in pure awe as I first got a glimpse of an adult Emily Kaldwin as she moved in on her target, one I would become accustomed to under the name of Jindosh. Over the next year, I began to become a nuisance to my colleagues and friends alike. My excitement for Arkane Studios’ smash-hit Dishonored was well on the way and it would easily sit among my top five most anticipated games of 2016. Soon as the email was received, our review code landed in, I already felt as if my holiday season had started, and Bethesda just happened to be my Santa Clause in disguise.
As I got to my phone, I booted up the PlayStation app, clicked the PlayStation Store Icon, and soon found myself entering my password, and redeeming the code before hitting the “Download to PlayStation 4” button. Within seconds, I easily felt the sense of nostalgia rushing through my veins and the want to get home just as high as my anticipation. Within an hour and a half, I found myself sitting down and starting up the app in order to enjoy the newly released game.
And so it Begins, Corvo and Ms. Kaldwin
To begin, Dishonored 2 picks up many-a-years later from the original game. Much as one would expect, there’s a few things to look at before wrapping up into a discussion about the story, and the most important part of it is looking at the games core mechanics that have been improved upon. Much like the previous game, Dishonored 2 has managed to improve upon past gameplay mechanics, evolved powers (Emily is an astounding experience to play as). The game works on an almost flawless system that had been developed for the first title, and in-turn, it seems to manage doing so once more in this latest installment.
Unlike her father Corvo Attano, the Royal Bodyguard, Emily Kaldwin is a much different beast in her own rightful nature. With stealth being her emphasis, Emily is all about quick execution in order to provide players with an entirely new experience that Corvo can’t. While his powers remain much the same, his voice actor adds a new element to the title, and even the fresh new coat of paint makes him a viable part of the game itself.
Much like Corvo, Emily comes, as stated, with her own unique set of tools that make her almost, if not more lethal than her father all together. One true showing of this is the fact Emily has an ability that allows her to forgo her fathers approach to combat, allowing her to use abilities such as Domino, which links multiple targets together and causing them to share the same fate as one another. Much like Corvo’s Blink, Emily is also gifted with a similar ability named “Far Reach,” which was presented in the cinematics as Emily quickly moved in on her target. Unlike, Blink, Far Reach leaves Emily viewable while maneuvering till the correct bone charm is equipped, making her unseen as she zips from location to location.
When stepping away from core combat mechanics, which have been fine-tuned to fit both characters, the game has made an example out of what expert level design should be. Maps such as the opening area of Dunwall will serve as an idea of what Arkane Studios has been up to since their announcement of the title just a few short years ago.
This Seems Familiar. Déjà vu Perhaps, Ms. Kaldwin?
If you’ve played Dishonored you’ll be familiar with the approach to the games opening. This time around we are served a delicious treat of seeing Emily and Corvo as they walk through the palace within Dunwall where Emily serves as Empress Kaldwin. Within minutes players are once more introduced to a common theme that may be a staplepoint for the series, another coup. Within a few more minutes of that, players are given the option of whom they wish to play the game as – Corvo or Emily is the choice you are offered.
For the sake of the review, I selected Emily in order to experience the games new approach. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a traumatized woman release her inner rage on her enemies? Due to the treason that has taken place, my adventure began as Emily was forced to once more flee the safety of her own home, and run for the distant lands of Karnaca, leaving only traces of hope that her now statue-esque like father is alive. Without powers, Emily is forced to evade guards, using gutters, drains, and even underpasses to houses as hiding places to evade getting caught.
Much like Dishonored, Dishonored 2 takes on a familiar turn as players find themselves trying to escape. We once more meet the outsider. Here he explains to use the order of things, explaining to Emily the path that lie ahead, and the gift he prepares to offer her. The Outsiders Mark. Accepting his offer, Emily is sealed to a familiar fate like her father, and that is to save the lands from the evil hiding within them. Once done with this, Emily is also introduced to a piece of equipment we are all used to, the heart. Just as before, the heart can be used to allow players to find bone charms and runes, which will serve Emily in many great ways during her adventure to overthrow her betrayers.
The World is Yours – Explore It
Dishonored 2 – PC, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), and Xbox One
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Zenimax
Release Date: Now Available
Karnaca for all intents and purposes of the game, is a splendidly designed place, from is beautiful city streets to the carefully crafted houses that players can explore – it’s a place worth visiting. It’s massive, it holds secrets, and it offers multiple paths for players to choose from. Want to go whipping from power pole to power pole? That is a viable option for those looking to get through the game while mastering stealth. For those of you who want to go on brutal rampages, the game offers vantage point, and even abilities for you to do so with.
In essence, each map is a cleverly designed area to explore. Let alone does it offer players diversity, the levels all offer unique secrets and journal logs for players to explore. Want a deeper story? You can get that with books, letters, and audiographs that have once more returned from the original game. One of the best things about the game, as stated, is each map is a puzzle. Each one comes with their unique approach and the best place to show this was Jindosh’s Clockwork Mansion. A building that is an ever-evolving puzzle of levers, moving floors, and moving rooms. While I love puzzles, the Clockwork Mansion can prove a formidable foe due to the enemies that lie in wait. Move that room to the left? Well there could be a clockwork soldier there waiting to execute Ms. Kaldwin without hesitation.
While enjoying the mansion as much as I could, the game offers up other challenges such as the Stilton Manor, where the game offers a unique approach while trying not to get discovered by the guards. This is where the largest challenge comes into play as players find themselves scurrying as quickly as possible when it comes to the lands and threats around them. Let alone do you have to worry about being spotted visually, guards will also listen for Emily’s movement, they will search those areas looking for abnormalities in the area around them.
This is what makes Dishonored 2 such a unique game compared to other stealth titles. It’s a game that shows what it’s about, it’s not scared about touting these features in any form whether it’s through promotions or core gameplay mechanics. During my exploration, the music was an entertaining peace that accented the occasions around Emily quite well. It didn’t matter if it was combat, exploration, or even a narrative piece – Dishonored 2 managed to do this quite well during the entirety of my time with the game.
Peeling Away from the Immersion of Karnaca
While settling down for the grand finale of my first playthrough, Dishonored 2 offered up something rather unique compared to my previous experiences with the franchise. I’ve spent plenty of time between Dishonored and the eventual Definitive Edition that followed suit not long ago. The original title offered much the same delivery in the long run, it offered up political intrigue, mystical witches, and even decisions that could forever change Karnaca for the better or the worst.
Much as you would expect, the story concludes with the capability of delivering future content and even offering players a chance to explore more side-story based quests. Much as one would expect, Dishonored 2 follows closely in the sense of high-expectations and manages to succeed in filling each of those expectations quite well. Whether it was the characters talking, which was superb, or the narrative being pushed forward for us to enjoy, Dishonored 2 manages to sooth any doubts that players may have and even shows how sequels should be done.
Whether it’s the strong design in each level, the open-world exploration, or the creativity behind Emily’s abilities, Dishonored 2 stands out in many ways unforeseen by players, and shows how creative he developers were behind this game and their want to help press the game forward for players to enjoy. Due to Arkane Studios’ want for players to adapt, to modify, and present their gameplay how they wish, Dishonored 2 proves that it’s a game to be reckoned with and will influence future games quite well in the years to come.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game given to us by the games publisher. For our review, we used a PlayStation 4 Pro with a 7200RPM HDD. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 10 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you