Although this is a long time in coming, I wasn’t an early adopter of Dishonored 2. I just wasn’t as enamored of the first game as most people were and figured I would wait until all the bugs had been ironed out (and the PC release of Dishonored 2 was rife with issues) and I had a chance to look a bit more closely at the game before buying.
In the end however, I couldn’t restrain my curiosity any longer and bought the game not too long ago on GMG. I am very pleased with my decision at this point as Dishonored 2 turned out to be far better than the base Dishonored game experience, for me at least.
The story in Dishonored 2 begins with Emily, now Empress of Dunwall and the Island nations, and her father/royal protector Corvo hosting an annual event on the anniversary of Jessamine’s death to commemorate and honor her. Things don’t go as planned, with Duke Luca Abele of Serkonos and an incredibly powerful witch named Delilah Copperspoon (revealed to be Jessamine’s half sister) crashing the party along with mechanical soldiers and members of Dunwall’s own city guard who have turned traitor. They take the throne encasing either Emily or Corvo in stone while imprisoning the other. From there, whichever of Emily or Corvo you have chosen to play as, will go on a quest to find out how this came to pass and how to reverse the curse placed on the other while also reclaiming the throne.
There are so many nuances and intricacies to this story, that it could easily have fallen apart. However, not only did it not do so, but in fact the story aspect of Dishonored 2 was really something special and a joy to play through.
9.5 out of 10
The gameplay in Dishonored 2 is top tier. After having dabbled with 2017’s Prey and now Dishonored 2, I can easily affirm that gameplay is at the top of Arkane’s priority list and it really comes through via absolutely tight controls and impeccable functionality. I played as Emily (I’m saving a Corvo playthrough until I am just about ready and able to play the upcoming expansion), and her abilities were awesome and handled flawlessly.
Regarding abilities, players are challenged to play as a normal human for one of the achievements, but what’s the fun in that when you can tap into the Void and utilize magic to go along with this awesome Steampunk world or pistols, hand crossbows, and blades?
Abilities are handled via the RPG upgrade system, wherein as you find little bits of the void (runes) lying about, they allow you to select cool abilities and then upgrade them from there. It is possible to collect all the abilities if you are diligent in your searching through each chapter. Most likely though, you will end up with probably 75% of the possible upgrades, which include things like summoning a doppleganger to stringing attack effects so that one attack affects several enemies simultaneously. However, that is only two of what are many abilities, both latent and activated using up your mana.
Additionally, you will find and indeed can craft your own bonecharms throughout as well. These are void touched whale bone charms that provide buffs in quite a variety of ways, from the simply ability to heal from drinking water to affecting enemies aim and plenty besides.
Combat itself, when not resolved with abilities is handled the old fashioned way….preferably via stealth, but always with a blade, pistol, crossbow, or utility equipment such as grenades and stun mines. Straight up combat incorporates parrying and blocking, kicking, and so on. Stealth however is preferable since you have the ability to knock somebody out rather than kill them. Certain items also grant this, such as sleep bolts and the aforementioned stun mines.
Dishonored 2 does of course also feature the chaos system, which remains an innovative take on the morality systems featured in plenty of RPG’s such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and so on. Basically, the more violent your playthrough, the higher the chaos level and the worse the world itself becomes. This is evidenced via the volume of rats and bloodflies in the world. Additionally, the higher the chaos level, the darker the story becomes. After the first two chapters I was in high chaos mode. Then I made a concerted effort to stop killing people and bring it down. I am happy to report that I ended the game in low chaos, which I was pleased with as the ending are also impacted by your chaos level and low chaos equates to a good ending and vice versa.
I do quickly want to talk about optimization. I understand that this was a huge issue at release. However, during my own playthrough recently, I encountered zero issues in this regard, and in fact, it handled in immaculate fashion. No frame rate issues, zero screen tearing or clipping, no crashes…nada. This game ran perfectly from start to finish. So….I think it is safe to say that whatever issues once existed no longer do.
There is plenty more to cover, but I will leave it there. 9.5 out of 10
The graphics in Dishonored 2 are definitely crisp and polished at times while at others, they are still well done but a bit more rough. I wouldn’t call them top tier, but despite that fact, this is still an amazing looking game regardless. What I really loved were all the incredibly distinct environments. Everywhere you visit in this game has its own life blood and appearance. The nature of the world is one of a darker existence courtesy of the parallel Void that touches so closely upon the world and in fact bleeds over at times. However, despite that somewhat depressing reality, this is a world that offers plenty of opportunities to simply sit and stare.
8 out of 10
The audio in Dishonored 2 was done to perfection. Although my time with Corvo was brief due to my selecting Emily, he was obviously done to perfection by Stephen Russell who you might also recognize as Nick Valentine in Fallout 4. Erica Luttrell takes over as Emily where Chloe Grace Moretz left off in the first game, and really makes Emily Kaldwin her own. I daresay Erica felt quite the connection to Emily, and it really came through in the game.
Rosario Dawson (a long time crush of mine (and probably most other men and women in this world we live in)) plays as Meagan Foster, and I expect this to carry over to the upcoming expansion, which features Meagan as the main character. Again, amazing work. I would expect no less though realistically, from Rosario.
Vincent D’Onofrio plays Duke Luca Abele to perfection and even Sam Rockwell steps in to give you an introduction to this game as the first villain you must deal with.
Erica Cottrell as Delilah….literal shivers at times my friends. She does creepy sexy like no other. Melendy Britt as Breanna Ashworth likewise was all creepy sexy awesome.
The rest of the cast, which features a pretty stout list of actors, did wonderful work as well. This was a finely acted game.
As to the rest of the audio….spectacular. This world is at once believable while also carrying a sense of desperation teetering on the edge of collapse. Additionally, the actual ambient sounds as you walk around are spot on and simply add to the sense of a living breathing world. The sounds of combat are perfect. Really, this is a game that, in the audio department, is as perfect as it can possibly be.
10 out of 10
Dishonored 2 is a game you owe it to yourself to play….at least twice. I personally will embark upon my second playthrough when Death of the Outsider is a little closer to release and see what Corvo has to offer for this installment and how the story changes based on he being the main character. I expect it will be just as near flawless an experience as playing through as Emily.
9.3 warps in and out of the Void to get that edge on your opponents who aren’t even certain if the Void exists, out of 10 possible. The other .7 took me a little too far over the edge of insanity. So much so that I don’t even know what this means….