Arkane Studios followup to their original IP, Dishonored, improves upon its predecessor in just about every way possible. From the magnificent, masterful level designs to the new set of powers, fans of the original will find a plethora of reasons to play, and replay, this fantastic mix of Deus Ex and Thief design sensibilities.
Set 15 years after the events of the first game, Dishonored 2 sees Emily Kaldwin on the throne with her father, Corvo Attano, serving as an advisor. However, Delilah Copperspoon takes over the throne, claiming that she is the true heir to the throne. Now the player is tasked to take back the throne by removing Delilah’s allies by taking on the role of Corvo or Emily.
The main game will run about 12-16 hours, but it has a strong replay value because both Corvo and Emily have a unique set of powers. Corvo’s abilities are all holdovers from the first game, but Emily has her own set of cool powers that make for a lot of interesting ways to get through areas. For instance, she has a doppelganger ability that makes a clone of herself she can use as a distraction or even have fight for her to make combat encounters easier.
Add on top of that the low and high chaos endings and the option to play through the entire game without powers and there’s at least another playthrough waiting for players who want more. To round it all off, there’s a new game plus mode..
But the true replay value comes in the level designs. Much like the first game, these are densely packed, rich levels with multiple ways to get in and out of rooms and tons of little goodies packed away to steal in corners of the map. It’s the Deus Ex school of thought where each player will likely trace a different path through the map.
Each level is lovingly crafted around an interesting concept to keep players on their toes. One map has a set of robotic enemies that cannot be easily killed or incapacitated by the usual means. The same level also features these rooms that can be reformed into different layouts meaning that a different layout can open up unique paths or you can say to heck with it and navigate the tunnels and utility chambers outside these shifting rooms.
And then there’s the level, the level that ranks as one of the best levels of all time with a time traveling mechanic that goes beyond what you’d expect. You hop between past and present to get past obstacles and guards, but you can do stuff in the past that affects the present, leading to these super interesting, optional bits where you come up with clever ways to solve problems. It’s an absolute delight and manages to hit a sweet spot between empowering and challenging.
For fans of Thief and Deus Ex, Dishonored 2 is sure to scratch that itch. In recent years, no game comes close to being this rich and complex as Dishonored 2. It’s one of those rare games you want to replay just to see all the stuff you missed the first time around. It’s another example of how video games are a rare medium that can often iterate and have its sequels surpass the original when done right.
© 2016 James Blake Ewing