By: Imran Chaudhry
Dishonored has established itself as a well-known and loved franchise with its second instalment continuing the story of our favourite hero Korvo and his now grown up daughter and empress, Emily. If you were a fan of Korvo’s betrayal, loss and harrowing story you will undoubtedly be a fan of Arkane Studio’s latest release in the franchise, Dishonored 2. With the familiar gothic renaissance France environment, mix-match of fantasy, magic, technology and history, Dishonored 2 plunges you back into the Empire of the Isles, starting off in the familiar Dunwall and moving to a new costal area, Karnaca.
Very light spoilers ahead
Immersive Story and Narrative
Leading on from the first game, Dishonored 2 is set a few years into the future, with Emily the new empress and Korvo stuck by her side. Not long into the first cut scene, this life falls into chaos and a new antagonist reveals itself, Delilah. With you choosing between playing as Korvo again or as a now grown up Emily trained by her father, your story beings as a now ostracised royal, determined to reclaim their name and kingdom from evil.
Whilst the new antagonist may seem a bit random at first, the explanation and unfolding of their story over the course of the campaign shed’s light on their sometimes harrowing backstory and explains why they are determined to overthrow Korvo and Emily. Overall the writing for this game is incredibly well done, with twists and turns in all the right places and enough audible gasps from myself to keep me playing after saying to myself “Just one more mission…”. Even the ‘bosses’ of each individual level have their own comical and sinister attributes to them, engrossing me in their story and involvement in Delilah’s plan.
Whilst the campaign missions are entirely engrossing and immersive, the collectables are many and often, allowing you to be rewarded for exploring the environment past the main story line and presenting puzzles such as hard to reach places and combination codes for safes.
Slice N’ Dice
One thing I loved about this game was the gory, intense and downright fun combat system it had. Similar to Dishonored, the combat was first person slice n’ dice with some interesting powers and mix of varied weaponry. This made combat a very fun and different experience every time you engaged with enemies. You could approach with stealth or go in all guns blazing, you can also choose whether to kill or knock-out your enemies, resulting in a low or high chaos play-through. Me, being a bloodthirsty gore enthusiast in games, opted for the high chaos, all guns blazing approach, which I can guarantee is as satisfying as it sounds.
With all this choice of how to play the game, right from the starting choice in antagonist to the many ways you can disable or even use enemy defences, the replay-ability of this game is extremely high, and it begs to be played again from another point of view.
Whilst some levels fall into the clichéd first person stealth game design, it does not take away from the game and most levels are superbly done with a refreshing take on the genre. A particular level allowing for time travel between the present map and the same map in the past was fantastic and so well executed I spent more time exploring it than trying to complete the level. Clever mechanics and innovative takes on level design have led to a memorable game with fun and new experiences to be had from a staple genre in gaming.
Mechanically & Technically Sound
From the powers to combat, this game gave a very smooth performance, with minor issues of getting stuck in corners or not being able to warp to where you want to. Only once did I get stuck inside a rock, to my dismay after finally completing a later mission and almost not being able to finish it.
The animations in the cut scenes and in gameplay where very well done, with the detailed hand animations when having a power equipped being a personal highlight of the game for me.
NPC’s Are Friends, Not AI
The AI in this game was executed remarkably well, with the timing of NPC interaction and dialogue being on point almost all the way through the game. The NPC reaction to player and interaction with each other was scripted perfectly, allowing for a natural feel to the environment, bringing it to life. Overall, the brilliantly executed AI in this game leads to an even more immersive environment and a compelling campaign.
Overall, Dishonored 2 goes above and beyond to re-ignite the story of Korvo and Emily and turn Dishonored from a loved game into a loved franchise. The art style, dark story and combat remain true to Dishonored giving it a feeling of familiarity to those returning to the franchise, whilst inventing an epic new narrative engrossing you into the dangerous new struggle that has befallen Emily and Krovo in Dunwall.