Dishonored 2 takes place years after the original game, all while Emily has been ruling the kingdom as Empress and learning the ins and outs of being an assassin from her father, Corvo. On the anniversary of Emily’s mother’s assassination, a mysterious woman appears that claims to be the former Empress’s long lost sister Delilah. Delilah forces Emily off the throne and out of power as she takes on the role of Empress throughout the rest of the game. This is when you either choose to play as Corvo or Emily for the entirety of the rest of the story. There is no change to the story aside from seeing it unfold from each other character’s point of view while their counterpart is frozen in stone and needs saving. The game then takes you on a stealthy action adventure that is essentially a copy and paste of the previous Dishonored.
The games high points are the action and gameplay, as well as, the world surrounding by the mysterious veil that gives certain characters in the game their dark powers. Although I am not personally a fan of first person action games (Yes. I am the guy that played Skyrim in third person), the action in Dishonored 2 is a blast. It gives the player the opportunity to the play the game a multitude of different ways from not killing a single person to murdering everyone in sight including civilians. Although Emily’s powers are similar to Corvo’s, there is a slight difference that makes them stand out as something fresh. The story in the first game was lacking character development and the cohesion that I need to become personally invested in a game’s characters. Dishonored 2 does a better job giving Emily a backstory that allows players into the personal relationship she has with her mother by trapping her mother’s soul into the game’s heart mechanic. I would have loved even more interaction between the two to give more gravitas to what happens near the end of the game.
Now that we have graciously pointed out some high points in Dishonored 2, let’s talk about some of the low points. Spoiler alert. There are a lot of them. First, I want to talk about the game’s graphics. Bethesda and Arkane need to figure out a different way of designing this franchise at this point. The graphics are incredibly subpar. I know what you are saying. You are screaming into the screen saying that this game isn’t going for a realistic style and is doing their own thing. I understand. The first Dishonored had a much more cartoonish and exaggerated design than other games out at the time. This game teeters between acceptable non-realistic graphics and realistic graphics so much that it felt like I should have been playing this on the PS3 or Xbox 360. It needs to go further one way or the other and nail it for Dishonored 3, if it gets another sequel.
Dishonored 2 doesn’t do anything new and, when it does, it quickly takes the mechanic away from you like it wasn’t ever there in the first place. The same overall design of the game is there. You configure a plan with side characters at a safe point, take a boat to a part of the city where the level begins, play through the level, assassinate the target, and leave. Wash, rinse, repeat. If you expected them to do anything surprising and new, you will be sorely disappointed. The one time that they do introduce a new element to the game in the form of a time-control function which gives you the power to jump flawlessly into the past and back to the future, they take it away after the level is over and it’s gone forever.
Last but not least, I just want to say that as an action game Dishonored 2 lacks a cinematic experience, both in the lack of awe inspiring set pieces and in the lack of actual cut scenes. The games cut scenes are hand-drawn motion comics that feel like the game lacked any sort of budget to improve upon the lacking elements from the original game. There is one scene where I will say I was truly frightened by a character early on who was uncontrollably turning into a monster that was murdering people in the night. Dishonored 2 feels like a bunch of ideas taped and glued together on a framework that just isn’t up to the standards of modern games.
Despite its faults, I did enjoy my experience playing the game and never got bored. I beat the game in just under seven hours leaving much to be explored and upgrade materials to be found. If you enjoyed the first Dishonored and are only looking for more of that, you are going to enjoy this game. If you expected more and wanted something new and fresh for the series, I fear you will be disappointed with the overall experience like I was.