Review: Dishonored 2—From Dunwall to Karnaca

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Courtesy Bethesda Softworks

The first Dishonored is one of, if not my favourite, single player game. Tight controls, choose your own playstyle, and the chance for creativity is exactly what makes a great single player game. Dishonored 2 hit the shelves a little over a year ago and, while it has taken some time for me to play it, I have only good things to say about the sequel.

The first thing to note after getting through the initial cut-scenes is that you are able to play the game as Emily or Corvo. They can be played in a similar manner but both bring a hint of their own unique abilities to missions. Emily is a character for someone who enjoys a little more stealth in their gameplay and Corvo is for someone who wants a more action packed playthrough. Just like the previous game, the objective of the game is to take out high value targets to get them out of power but how you take them out is where things can get creative. Do you want to teleport rooftop to rooftop slowly picking off foes with precision and guile? Or would you rather blow open the front door and slice through enemies? Finally, when you do meet the target there is always a non-lethal way to take them out. It is entirely possible to complete the game without killing anyone at all.

Finding runes throughout the game will give the player the choice of buying/upgrading different abilities. Corvo’s abilities include blink, a short distance teleport, windblast, a gust of wind that is useful for knocking down enemies while in a sword fight, and dark vision, allowing the player to see enemies and items through walls, which is essential to anyone trying to approach the game through stealth. Bend time, which lets the player slow down and, with enough upgrades, stop time completely. This power has so much utility from escaping an unfavorable situation, to getting in and out of a room without being seen. There are many more abilities in the game as Emily’s abilities have not even been touched on yet. What makes Dishonored and Dishonored 2 so enjoyable to replay is that even when you reach the end of the game, not all of these powers will be available, which makes a player want to replay and use new powers, and play in a way that they have yet to experience.

Creativity remains as one of Dishonored’s greatest strengths. It is entirely possible to play the same stage in ways that make the game feel different each time. Take one scenario while playing as Corvo, a single room with three enemies that must be dispatched. It is possible to use the devouring swarm power to summon a small army of rats to envelop the crew. It is possible to stop time, shoot an arrow at every target, resume time, and watch as three people are hit with arrows. Would you like a non-lethal approach? Sneak behind every enemy and knock them unconscious. These are all simple ways to eliminate your foes but pairing different things together is where the fun begins. Are the targets visible from afar and itching for a challenge? Stop time, throw a grenade in that direction then windblast the grenade for a DIY grenade launcher.

One area I found lackluster in the first game was the difficulty. I could blow through Dishonored without breaking a sweat even when trying to use a non-lethal approach. Overall what makes a stealth game worth playing is the A.I. Games like the Batman Arkham series have set a precedent for what is expected of stealth games and, while incredibly satisfying to eliminate, the A.I. in the first Dishonored was overall not that smart. For Dishonored 2 the A.I. is much better and even with that there are more enemies, weapons that do more damage, and not every situation has a sure fire best way to approach it. Entering the game on the highest difficulty is definitely not advisable as it is nowhere near as easy as the first Dishonored.

Dishonored 2 was a joy to play through. The stealth is gripping, the action is intense, the city of Karnace, in which the game takes place, is both beautiful and full of things to discover. Dishonored 2 does even better than its predecessor and provides players with an amazing sandbox to carve their way through Karnaca, their own way.

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