Dishonored 2: Keeping up with the Kaldwins

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

One of the things that I appreciate about the Dishonored series is that Arkane Studios has set expectations well. I've become accustomed to watching game trailers with interest and then tempering that with the likelihood that what I've seen will be dialed back somewhat; that the initial trailer(s) includes concepts that will be cast by the wayside and forgotten, having become too costly or complicated to bring to fruition in the finished title. It's common for a game to be given a polished cinematic to advertise the game rather than a series of gameplay clips, especially for a game's announcement. 

While these advertisements are successful in introducing story with a high production animated mini-feature, they often obscure the actual gameplay in the process. True gameplay trailers are all well and good, but they are often no better at giving reasonable expectations for way the final game will truly be like to play. This is one of the reasons I was so pleased by Dishonored when I had finally got hands on with it. It played as its trailers gave you the impression it would. The protagonist, Corvo moved through spaces with the gift of the same strange arcane powers and an assassin’s practiced swiftness that had been presented. It was marvelous. 

, even though not technically an open world, was a world that felt open with possibilities. There was so much to find and do, with great nuance to the problems presented. Solving those problems had the satisfaction of untangling a particularly tight and impossible knot. My thorough enjoyment of the first Dishonored game meant that the bar was very high for Dishonored 2, my only real complaint about the first game had been that I wanted, no, craved more. 

When I saw the Dishonored 2 E3 trailers I hesitated, I had been waiting anxiously for the next installment, but the cinematic trailer was very good; too good. The clockwork mansion was fascinating but I couldn’t imagine that they had made it playable. I was thrilled once again to have my doubts unfounded. Dishonored 2 is a worthy successor to the first, and just as enjoyable to play. There are new supernatural abilities and a few new practical functions, like the Quick Save and Quick Load features that made my Unseen/No Kill playthrough a lot easier to achieve.

The game also gives you the option to play as either Corvo or Emily. It's a singular choice, you aren't able to switch between the two for different missions. Each one has their own unique mix of skills and abilities, making repeat playthroughs even more enjoyable. For the sake of switching things up, I went with Emily for mine. 

The aesthetic blend of somewhat modern technologies in an almost mythical dawn of industry era continues to captivate. The living painting environment remains though a little more refined than before. The dark and plagued city of Dunwall has much improved under Empress Emily Kaldwin’s reign (15 years post the failed coup), but still struggling in many ways. The adventure’s introduction of Karnaka is a welcome extension of the wider world of Dishonored, a southern coastal town with Grecian influences.

I don’t want to give anything away, but I had expected that the clockwork mansion would be the “peak” level, complexity-wise. I was quite mistaken, it was tricky and enjoyable but it didn’t hold a candle to a later mission that blew my mind to play (not to mention imagining how it had been developed and implemented).

I will leave it here, but I highly recommend picking up Dishonored 2. While it isn’t necessary to have played the first game, I think you would be missing out if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to play it.  

Dishonored 2 is available for PC, Xbox One, and PS4