Reviewed By Steve Polak
The dreary darkness of Dunwall returns in this excellent sequel to one of my favourite stealth combat games.
Dishonored 2 picks up roughly ten years after the original game and while things begin with Emily (the princess who survived the first game) about to be crowned queen, peace and happiness do not last for long.
We won’t spoil the narrative, but you will quickly find yourself ostracised and on the run, as the entire city is against you. Once again Dunwall is patrolled by corrupt officials, evil guards and ruthless mobs. They all want your blood and in true Dishonored tradition you can handle these threats in a number of different ways, each with different implications in terms of the story.
However you don’t spend the entire game in Dunwall, as the action also takes you to the Mediterranean looking Karnaca which adds a nice dose of variety to proceedings.
For those who have played Dishonored before this sequel delivers the same sorts of moral choices you will have become used to in the original release.
If you are the blood thirsty type you can hack and slash your way through all opposition, as you go on a killing spree and use violence to complete the missions at hand.
However you can also choose stealth and attempt to slip by hostile folk, doing minimal damage by either non-lethally suffocating foes, or by avoiding them altogether. This latter approach is generally more challenging and, as was the case before, the game plays differently if you favour less bloodthirsty means.
In Dishonored 2 much will feel familiar. The health and stealth systems are basically unchanged. That said, combat is slightly different, with you having access to a few different moves. The airborne stun move that sees you leaping off a ledge and non lethally knocking out a would be foe is a ripper.
The magical powers have been updated a little and as the game now gives you new options (you can play as princess Emily as well as Corvo) you will possibly want to explore the skill sets of both characters and how they change the game. Emily in particular has some great new moves that encourage creativity when it comes to subduing multiple foes at the one time. Look out for her ‘domino’ power as it is a real ripper.
Despite these changes at its core this sequel doesn’t change the formula much at all. This is only mildly disappointing if you actually felt the original game needed change. Personally I loved the first adventure and all I really needed was more of the same, with a few slight tweaks to add variety. This is Dishonored 2 in a nutshell!
This sequel is arguably harder than the original game. Not only do the enemies you face seem more attuned to any noises you might make, but their detection range is definitely longer, so you really have to be careful when skulking about. One thing is for sure you will get discovered and most likely die at the hands of multiple assailants more than once in this game. Then again you wanted a challenge didn’t you?
Dishonored 2 also delivers some truly brilliant, admittedly bleak, levels for you to explore. There are trinkets, bone charms and secrets everywhere and you can either speed run through levels and just focus on key objectives or you can enjoy the less travelled path and explore every nook and cranny in the game, gathering some pretty natty rewards in the process.
There is also a totally new town to explore, in the form of the much brighter Karnaca. This place is really interesting, as it is more of a thriving town with plenty of people wandering about. Compared to the quiet city streets of Dunwall, a place ravaged by plague, Karnaca is much busier, with plenty of folk to chat to and lots of side quests for those who want more to do than just follow the core narrative.
There are also some truly inspired areas. The Clockwork Mansion with its labyrinth of moving platforms and switches, is something special to behold.
Even though Dishonored 2 doesn’t really change many of the core elements that were an integral part of the original game, this is a terrific sequel that just builds on the success of the original game, for the most part, improving the experience in every way.
Dishonored 2 is harder, more varied, more attractive visually and features better level designs than the original game. The story is perhaps a little less interesting and some might find it predicable, but that is hardly a major issue.
If you like stealth games like Thief and want to try something that is perhaps even better, give Dishonored 2 a go.
Game: Dishonored 2
Developer: Arkane Studios