2016 had a plethora of exciting and fresh games that were console exclusives and cross-platform. Some of the honorable mentions are Uncharted 4, Overwatch, Watch Dogs 2, and Deus Ex Mankind Divided. But one game REALLY stood out for me when I played it on its release on November 11. And that was Dishonored 2.
Blast from the Past
Now, I played the first one back in 2012 when it came out, and I just bought it because one of my buddies recommended it to me. I flew through that game in 7 hours without even stopping to smell the roses (in this case, it would be doing sidequests, finding alternate pathways, finding the Outsider Shrines and just reading lores and taking in the World). So when I finished Dishonored 1 I felt empty, and that was because I didn’t do much of the supplement quests. But for Dishonored 2, I changed that. I played both as Emily and Corvo, played non-lethally and lethally, and fully explored the world to find Outsider Shrines and key lores. Let’s just say I put in over 40 hours into this game. And after investing so much time into Dishonored 2 I felt so emotionally enticed to this game and characters that I just didn’t want it to end. The lores, books and side quests really got me engaged in the World of Dishonored and made me feel emotions for a character which I haven’t felt since Adam Jensen in Deus Ex Human Revolution. Dishonored 2 also made me feel nostalgic of my early fun days as a child and now having to bear responsibilities like Emily Kaldwin. One line that really got me and that made me relatable to her was her fantasy dreams of being able to travel the world carefree, but ultimately she knew that couldn’t happen because of her role as Empress.
At first, when Arkane Studios revealed the new story of Dishonored 2, I thought it would be a basic ‘revenge’ plot with not much depth. It takes place about 15 years after the original game and features a grown-up Emily Kaldwin, who was the princess at the center of Dishonored. She is one of two playable characters in the sequel, along with Dishonored’s protagonist, Corvo Attano.
Following her rescue by Corvo, Emily assumed her rightful place as empress. But now she’s been replaced by an “otherworldly usurper,” so she becomes a supernatural assassin herself to retake her throne. But this revenge plot is only a piece of the pie. There is so much more going on within the main story from its portrayal of relevant politics evident in today’s society to the intricate side quests and pathways you can take for each mission. Dishonored doesn’t hold your hand for anything, and if you can think of a solution, it’s probably there.
All nine chapters of Dishonored 2 were satisfying, and although I would’ve liked to have seen a more fleshed out ending, the meat of the game made up for that. Without spoiling anything, two chapters that really stood out for me were ‘ Jindosh’ Mansion’ and ‘A Crack in the Slab’.
In my 20 years of gaming, I’ve never seen a level so cleverly designed than that of Jindosh’s Mansion. The whole place is modular by switching a lever that instantly changes the architecture of the interior mansion. I found myself getting lost quite a bit, but that was the challenge and was extremely fun. Later I found that there was a simpler and sneakier way to get through the mansion without alerting ANYONE. But I’ll leave that for you to figure out.
A Crack in the Slab is probably the coolest and most intricate level I’ve seen in a long time, (after Jindosh Mansion). You’re presented with an artifact that allows you to peek into the past in real-time and vice versa. Your actions in the past affect the present, so if you alter something within the past and travel to the present, you will see the consequence of your actions. I had loads of fun just experimenting with this simple concept.
Further, the gameplay in Dishonored 2, is just mind-blowing. With the two character choices you have (Emily Kaldwin and Corvo Attano), each has a different skill set. A playthrough with Emily is completely different than with Corvo. On my first playthrough, I went with Emily because I played as Corvo in Dishonored 1 and plus I finally got to play as a female character in a major game. Emily’s skill set is great, her most useful ability is Domino which allows you to link multiple enemies together and take only one out, which in turn, takes out the rest. I found myself using this skill many times through my playthrough.
Corvo’s skill set is the same as in the first Dishonored, so it didn’t intrigue me as much. But the game accommodates greatly for both Emily’s and Corvo’s abilities. What really makes the gameplay so interesting, though, is the insane amount of ways you can tackle a mission. Dishonored 2 rewards you for any way you choose, but when you find a path that completely takes your enemies off guard, that is when the true satisfaction comes in.
In terms of character development, one of the key additions Arkane Studios put it that I loved was the voiced characters. Emily Kaldwin is played by Erica Luttrell who did an amazing job. Not only are the cutscenes voiced, but also Emily’s observations on the World around her. It was great seeing an innocent girl in the first game grow up to become such a badass in the second. Let’s just hope a Dishonored 3 is in the works with Emily again.
And the character development isn’t just limited to Emily and Corvo. Many of the side characters such as Megan Foster are a great addition to the story. I absolutely loved her role within the Dishonored story and her story unravels nicely to complement the events in Dishonored.
Further, the world just feels vibrant and alive. From the dark streets of Dunwall to the sunny, vibrant and southern exotic feel of Serkonos, Arkane Studios did an incredible job in crafting a believable and engaging world.
Lastly, we can’t end off without talking about the AI in this game. In my playthrough, I had my difficulty settings to medium as I always do with any game, but the AI in Dishonored 2 is a cut above the rest. The slightest noise or peek around the corner, and you’d alert any nearby enemies. The AI feels alive and present. They are incredibly receptive to your movements and won’t hesitate to alert for nearby help as well. So, trend lightly.
Overall, Quadoop awards the Game of the Year to Dishonored 2 for its excellent storytelling, abundant gameplay variety, and deeply relatable and excellent characters. Dishonored 2 is a complete package and a remarkable experience that every gamer should play despite whether they have played the first game. Many of these levels will be forever etched in my head and we can’t wait to see what Arkane Studios has in store for the next Dishonored (if any).