A VIVIDLY realised world, confident art direction and open ended level design make Dishonored 2’s setting of Karnaca an exciting place to visit.
Dishonored 2 (D2) is a game about options; combat, mobility, map design, ability unlocks and the narrative are all crafted in a way that gives you several fulfilling choices.
Often, cramming a linear game with so many options makes it lose focus and feel messy.
This is not the case with D2, each action you take appears to be rigidly scripted while it never actually is.
The game dives straight into its plot, Empress Emily Kaldwin and her father/protector Corvo Attano (protagonist from Dishonored 1) are holding a royal audience when Emily’s aunt attacks, claiming the throne for herself.
Immediately you must choose whether to play as Emily or Corvo, this decision is permanent for the playthrough which I was apprehensive about.
Fortunately, both protagonists’ stories are interesting and their unique powers are a joy to use.
It is a bit of a cheap way to force replay-ability, but Arkane Studios do a great job of making it worthwhile with solid dialogue and fun variations on the abilities of each character.
Gameplay is where D2 really shines; each level drops you in to a section of the city, gives an ambiguous objective, throws some toys at you and says, “go nuts”.
Levels are full of lore, collectibles, side missions and visual treats that are never handed to you on a platter; you must search and explore.
A useful item can show you where some powerup items are hidden, but there are no stringent guides telling you how to do anything.
Say you have a target on the tenth floor of a building, you could; teleport across roof tops and through their window, fight past 20 guards using a sword and crossbow, sneak past the guards by turning into a shadow and hiding under desks, posses a dog and run up to the target’s feet, or you could just wander around the town and talk to the manically depressed locals.
Then when you reach the target no one says you must kill them, there is always another way.
The level design is phenomenal, notably, the Clockwork Mansion and any mission that utilises time traveling.
Time traveling is controlled by a piece of equipment that allows you to jump between two timelines, present and 20 years ago.
This leads to some creative stealth options, puzzle solving and surprise assassinations.
Playing is made that much sweeter by the beautifully defined art style.
Light and dark are capitalised on in the most effective ways, showing a technologically advanced city slipping in to decay.
The world is powered by whale oil and wind turbines which is shown in the unique skylines and how whale corpses lie around the streets, rotting.
This sounds like a depressing world to inhabit because it is.
You will occasionally hear hushed voices discuss escaping the city, or stumble on a corpse with a last note by its side, damning the dictator who lead to their demise.
It is a world in which, despite your powers and combat abilities, you never feel safe and you must always be ready for a fight.
+ Satisfying powers and combat
+ Threatening enemy A.I.
+ Great villains
+ Looks haunting yet beautiful.
– Intro is rushed
– Cannot replay levels
Try if you like:
Metal Gear Solid
Batman: Arkham series
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on PS4