Back in 2012, Arkane Studios created the new franchise Dishonored. The series showcased a new style of play thanks to ingenious powers and a brilliant open structure to its level design. Not only was the gameplay excellent but the world and lore of Dishonored incited immense intrigue.
After its debut release, Bethesda Softworks let the franchise marinate over four years. During that time, Arkane Studios has been hard at work on the next chapter of Dishonored. The game is available, the wait is over, and was it ever worth it. Dishonored 2 is an excellent display of a franchise taking a giant leap forward, level design being opened up even more and the power of player choice being woven into everything the player does.
The first time around saw gamers journey to the glorious city of Dunwall, and this is where we find ourselves during the early moments of Dishonored 2. It is a pleasant sight to see Dunwall once more. However, it is even better when gamers step onto the ship that takes them to the stunning city of Karnaca.
Karnaca is absolutely beautiful, yet odd city that shines in the sun and lurks weirdly in the night. The architecture of the world adds great contrast and is a wonderful change from what we saw in Dunwall. Part of this is the dynamic that is born from the water, which surrounds the city. This makes for interesting crevasses, like sewers and canals, which possess plenty of secrets for players to uncover.
The industrial notes of Karnaca introduce a magnificent contrast between the buildings, the city’s atmosphere and the weather. Weather plays a huge role into how you approach levels in Dishonored 2. In the windy and dusty parts of Karnaca, this empowers the player with a great margin for error. The same can be said about nighttime. However, on a bright and sunny day, that forces stealthy gamers to be far more careful with their movements.
Karnaca feels remarkably alive as streets are bustling with citizens going about their daily routine. Those who follow the voices that try and lure your attention will often times find new side quests. These NPCs are scattered throughout the world and are a great way to experience additional lore and stories held within Karnaca.
More over is the fact that as you explore Karnaca and progress throughout the game, Karnaca discusses your actions. Roam around the city after a critical juncture in the story and you’ll hear NPCs talking about the consequences of something you did prior to then. This makes the world feel even more alive than before, and adds weight to your choices.
Early on, gamers are given the choice to play as Emily or Corvo, and my preference was to go with the lady. Each character has unique abilities, and Emily’s had to be the ones I found most alluring. In order to add new abilities, gamers need to find runes that are scattered throughout Karnaca. Using the power of The Heart, gamers can find where runes are hiding.
Choosing which powers to unlock first is something dependent upon your play style. Dark Vision is a great ability for those wishing to see enemies through walls. This allows you to be extra thoughtful with your movements, and can give you an edge over your enemies heading into combat. Upgrading this power means seeing an enemy’s movement patterns as well. This upgrade gives an even greater enhancement to your tactics.
Domino is a personal favorite power of Emily’s. This is one of the first powers I added to my arsenal early on. This power allows you to link one enemy to another, then have their fate intertwined with the other. In laymen terms, linking enemy A to enemy B makes it so if I choke out enemy A, enemy B is also choked out. Cool, right? This power is greatly helpful when trying to get past a group of enemies. Domino allows you to link as many as four different enemies at once. This power is extraordinarily deadly, and can open up avenues of traversal you would never had without it.
Finally, Mesmerize is the other power I found myself using frequently. This ability essentially distracts enemies by spawning a dark figure and, well, mesmerizing them so that you can either sneak past them without being detected or go in for the easy kill. Mesmerize provides a unique level of choice for the player. What will you do, let an enemy live or take the easy kill?
Morality is a fabulous element that impacts the ending you’ll find in Dishonored 2. If you spend your time wasting enemy NPC after enemy NPC, then you won’t see as happy of an ending if you would’ve simply killed the necessary foes. Killing is not necessarily mandatory in Dishonored 2 and this is present from start to finish in every playthrough.
Characters in Dishonored 2 are given wonderfully unique personalities, and interesting backgrounds. Meagan Foster is perhaps the most important character you’ll meet in the game, and she’s one you’ll encounter quite often. She is the holder of some of Dishonored 2‘s greatest moments, and has a wonderful twisted background of her own.
Dishonored 2 turns out to be the excellent sequel fans of the series were hoping for. Gameplay is supremely entertaining thanks to the visibly different play styles of Corvo and Emily. The world of Karnaca is far more compelling to wander through compared to the series’ preceding city of Dunwall. Finally, both Emily and Corvo hand gamers powers that beg them to give Dishonored 2 numerous playthroughs.
Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Dishonored 2. Bethesda Softworks provided We Write Things with a PlayStation 4 review code of Dishonored 2 for the purposes of this review.