Oliver Leigh roams through the broken streets of Dishonored 2, have Bethesda struck gold again?
Set 15 years after the events of the original game, Dishonored 2 swaps the dark, rat infested streets of Dunwall city with its Victorian London styling for the more southern and sunlit basked European city of Karnaca. However there is no peace in paradise…
The story begins in with the player assuming the role of Empress of the Isles and ruler of Dunwall, Emily Kaldwin, as she partakes in the remembrance of her mother’s assassination. As she walks down the isle of her palace to pay her respects, fans of the series are re-introduced to Royal Protector and father to Emily, Corvo Attano. Before long and due to lack of a better phrase, shit hits the fan, with the remembrance-day providing the stage for Emily’s rule to be usurped by witch Delilah Copperspoon, aided by various political opponents of Emily who originate from Karnaca .
It is here where we decide one of the hardest decisions of the game, do we play as Empress Emily Kaldwin, the new and resilient protagonist whom the game revolves around. Or do we play as OG Attano, the metal skull wearing badass of the original game now older but just as deadly. For me it was a no brainer as I decided to go old school with Corvo, however, the choice of character doesn’t just effect the games subtle dialogue with characters, it also effects the abilities you are granted by the supernatural being ‘The Outsider’ which aids you in your quest for revenge.
These abilities allow for some unique and downright fun ways to dispatch your enemies and become either a master of stealth or combat. For example, Corvo can learn the ability to freeze time or possess animals or humans (these being only some of the available abilities). Used together, Corvo can use his freeze time ability to then search for an animal to possess and escape his pursers. Or if you are feeling more mischievous, place a stun mine on an enemy and then watch the sparks fly. Emily too has her own unique abilities, such as her power to chain link enemy’s fates together meaning that if one were to accidentally be shot in the head, then the linked foes would share the same fate. Whilst possession may not be in her repertoire of skills, she can lean the power to become a stalking shade monster which lowers her profile to her enemies and make it easier to not only evade her foes, but also dispatch them.
It would be criminal not to mention the gorgeous visuals of the game itself, with every level feeling as though you are walking through a painting or an illustration to some sort of steam punk, twisted fairy-tale hybrid. There were moments when I stopped my campaign of stealth and sorcery just to gaze upon the port-side city of Karnaca, with industrial whaling ships cruising through the harbour with its bloody load on board.
Speaking of criminality, if you decide to complete the game by painting the streets of Karanca red with the blood of your enemies this will correlate to a ‘high-chaos’ play and result in a more cynical ending. However a non-lethal approach will see the fair city’s fate through a more optimistic and ‘low-chaos’ lens. This can also apply to how you dispatch the main antagonist of each level, with a non-lethal approach requiring careful scouring of your environment to clues to how you can incapacitate them. As Karnaca is currently gripped by a plague like infestation of ‘blood fly’, insects which lay their eggs in fresh corpses, a non-lethal approach is probably recommended…
Overall, whilst fans of the previous Dishonored game may find little surprise in the narrative arch of the game, its visuals and gameplay mechanics have been vastly improved upon which makes the game highly enjoyable. This is only further enhanced by its replayability due to the dual characters and abilities available as well as multiple endings.