“It’s time to take back what’s yours.” Fans of the critically-acclaimed stealth game Dishonored have been eagerly waiting since 2012 for the next chance to dawn the mysterious, metal skull mask of legendary assassin, Corvo Attano. Arkane Studios has pulled out all the stops for the sequel, providing die-hard gamers with a vibrant, detailed new world to explore and a fresh story set fifteen years after the events of the first game. Now grab your bone charms, spring razors, and sleep-darts; it’s time to delve deeper into some of the great new aspects of Dishonored 2 that sets itself apart from the previous installment.
1.) Two Playable Characters, Two Unique Perspectives
Dishonored 2 mixes up the formula this time around by allowing the player to pick from two different protagonists. At the start of the game, players can choose between Corvo Attano, the Royal Protector and wrongfully-accused protagonist from the first game, or Empress Emily Kaldwin, adopted daughter of Corvo and the heir to the throne of Dunwall. However, the peacetimes and restructuring that followed with the introduction of the new Empress are soon disrupted when another familiar figure from the first game returns, a deceptive witch named Delilah Copperspoon. Delilah ultimately tricks the citizens of Dunwall into believing she is the long lost heir to the throne and turns the whole city against the pair of heroes, ultimately setting the narrative into motion. Both Corvo and Emily are both fully voiced, which adds an extra layer of personality to the characters, allowing them to react differently to the events that unfold around them during the story portions of the game. Though they share a similar motivation of restoring order to their world and defeating Delilah, the ability to experience the story from the eyes of two distinct characters is a welcomed addition. And the real icing on the cake is that Corvo and Emily have their own unique set of powers, which you can read about below.
2.) The Other-Worldy Powers
While playing through Dishonored 2, you’ll also have master Corvo and Emily’s wide range of supernatural powers to stop your foes and traverse the environment. Corvo still retains the same powers from the first game, though improved slightly. His main power, “Blink,” allows him to teleport to a desired location, slowing time momentarily as well. It can also be used to slam into enemies if you build up enough momentum. “Bend Time” freezes time for much longer, allowing Corvo players to strategically escape without being seen, avoid dangerous attacks or dispose of unwanted foes while their guard is down. He can also utilize “Devouring Swarm” to summon a horde of deadly rats to clear away dead bodies or to distract guards long enough to make a quick getaway. Lastly, Corvo’s “Possession” also returns, allowing him to inhabit the bodies of rats, fish, blood flies, and humans to move around undetected or during combat to avoid taking damage. His powers may not be new, but they are still just as fun to use as ever and fans of the first game will feel right at home while playing Corvo. If you’re feeling adventurous or yearning for some new other-worldly powers to play around with, Emily is the better choice. Now gifted with the mark of the Outsider, Emily proves that she too has a few tricks up her sleeve. Her “Far Reach” power works similar to Corvo’s “Blink,” but it can also be used to push an enemy off a balcony or pull them toward her, right into her deadly blade for a swift execution. “Doppelgänger” allows her to create a clone of herself to confuse enemies, but she can also jump back and forth between her two selves to really stir up some trouble. “Shadow Walk” is an offensive power that transforms Emily into an intangible, shadowy creature that can be used to rip enemies limb from limb. One of Emily’s more interesting powers is “Domino” in which players can link several enemies together. Whatever the player does to one enemy results in the rest of the linked individuals sharing the same fate as the primary target, which proves to be extremely helpful in getting rid of a group of guards in one fell swoop. No matter which character you choose, experimenting with what powers work best in certain scenarios is your key to success, and combining them with your other tools and gadgets can also lead to some very interesting outcomes.
3.) Emphasis on Re-playability
Two separate play-throughs are almost essential to get the full experience of Dishonored 2 if you want see each of the main characters’ distinct stories. However, fans know that one of the iconic attributes of the series is it’s re-playability, so more than two play-throughs is not uncommon. The multiple endings make a return as well, with each individual ending reflecting the overall performance of the player based on which play-style they adopted. Just like its predecessor, Dishonored 2 uses a “Chaos” system to measure how many people you killed and how many times you were detected by foes. Fans of a stealthier approach looking for a lengthier play-session can once again try for a “Low Chaos” ending by reducing their body count and by alerting as few guards as possible. You can also go into areas with pistols blazing, completely laying waste to anyone that dares stand in your way, which will result in the “High Chaos” ending. But the variations in gameplay don’t end here. You can also complete the game without killing anyone at all, earning you the “Merciful” rating and the famed “Clean Hands” trophy, though patience is your key to success if you attempt this play-style. Anyone looking for a real challenge can aim high for the “Ghost” rating, which tasks players to complete the game without being seen by anyone. Lastly, you can even reject the Outsider’s offer and play the game without any powers at all, forcing you to rely on your skills with the blade, pistol, and various gadgets to complete each mission. Arkane Studios truly understands the importance of giving gamers the freedom to play however they choose with no punishment for choosing one path over another.
4.) Crazy New Locations
The first Dishonored game placed players into the rat-infested, plague-ridden city of Dunwall, which was home several interesting locales, mansions, and military-occupied streets that you could test your other-worldly powers in. Dishonored 2 says farewell to the bleak, whaling wharfs of Dunwall and takes the story to the exotic southern city of Karnaca, a bustling port town surrounded by high cliffs and sprawling bayside vistas. While it might seem familiar at first glance, this lush new setting of Karnaca isn’t just the same old stuff with a new coat of paint. The top-notch level design is far more diverse and stylized this time around, with each individual level incorporating new gimmicks and features to use to your advantage while playing. For example, the Dust District is an area that is constantly ravaged by sandstorms that blot out the sky, greatly hindering guards’ visibility. An imaginative player can time their attacks during the storm by disposing of enemies before the dust clears, or by sneaking past groups of guards without them noticing at all. The Clockwork Mansion level is a huge mechanical home owned by a mad tinkerer named Kirin Jindosh. One of the most imaginative levels in the game, the whole mansion acts like a giant Rubik’s cube, constantly twisting, rearranging, and folding in on itself. Enemies can disappear behind a moving wall and new paths open up with the flick of a switch, keeping the player on their toes but yet still providing numerous ways to traverse the shifting rooms of the mansion and reach the goal. It’s the perfect puzzle-box playground for the player to experiment with their powers and their creativity. Just try not to get smashed by a moving ceiling while trying to find the best shortcut.
5.) The Quick Save/Quick Load Feature
While this may seem like an odd feature to discuss, anyone who adopted a stealthier play-style in the original Dishonored knows that the ability to load previous save data was essentially another “power” to use at your disposal. Alerted a large group of guards while trying to sneak silently through a hallway? Load a previous save! Accidentally sliced a guy’s neck instead of choking him during a no-kill play-through? Load a previous save! It became an important tool for those trying to perfect the best ways to traverse certain areas or avoid unwanted situations. The only problem with utilizing the previous saves was that the loading times could, at times, be a painful 20-30 second wait, which greatly took away from the overall experience. This time around, Dishonored 2 fixes that issue by giving the player the ability to quick-save on the fly. While on the pause menu, you can now use the controller’s trigger buttons to either instantly create a new save or load a previous one, allowing more fluidity to get the player back into fray faster than ever before.
Whatever path you choose, whatever play-style you decide to take, Dishonored 2 is packed to the brim with hours of re-playability that both action and stealth fans have come to expect from the series. The rich story, memorable characters, satisfying stealth gameplay, and sandbox setting are more than enough to keep players coming back for more neck-slicing fun.