The throne has been snatched from you, it might have been a witch’s sorcery that has stolen the throne from you, but it was unawareness that cost you the Empire of the Isles. 15 years have passed since the events of the original Dishonored that brought Dunwall to it’s knees, now it’s the time to take back what’s yours. The consequences are dire, the Empire now sits in the hands of Delilah Kaldwin, a sinister witch who claims to be the rightful heir to the throne and the villain of Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches. A coup has erupted and only one half of our dynamic duo has escaped Dunwall.
After taking 84 years on this game because every time I booted it up, I just ended up falling asleep because the game was making me bored for some odd reason even though I really enjoyed and liked it ( the same thing occurred to me with the original Dishonored back in 2012.), I managed to finally finish it a couple weeks ago after a 3 hour session. I can safely say that this game is a complete masterpiece in every sense of the word, very few games can achieve what Dishonored 2 does and it does it quite beautifully, I don’t think I ever experienced a game like this since the original BioShock.
In Dishonored 2, you won’t be returning to Dunwall any time soon and you won’t take back the throne with a sunlit stroll, and it becomes clear that Karnaca is home to a network of conspirators that work for Delilah and have been working for years to bring an end to your reign. With these conspirators still alive, Delilah’s position is unimpeachable or unattainable so you must bring an end to these conspirators but it’s up to you on how to assassinate them. Swords, crossbow bolts, panicked gun fire, Muskets do the job but there’s a trick: you can also do it in a nonlethal manner which is a nice dollop of irony when it comes to taking down your enemies, even though you need to do more steps. The crux and the style of each mission is similar, built around your pursuit of an nefarious plotter who helped Delilah and in pursuit to end her reign, and while it seems like everything is against you once again you’re aided by the Outsider, a god who helped Corvo and is willing to help you if you take his aid, that is. His mark allows you to use powers that can be unlocked and upgraded to give you an edge by discovering runes across Karnaca.
These abilities are utterly fantastic to use, the one I used alot was Far Reach that lets Emily get to places that mortals can’t and Shadow Walk that turns the deposed empress into some sort of shadow that can tear enemies apart. I haven’t played as Corvo but I’m willing to play the game again through his eyes. Experimenting with these abilities is a task that is satisfying, thanks to the audio and the visuals that make Dishonored 2 a complete masterpiece. An arsenal of powers are at your disposal wouldn’t count for much if Dishonored 2’s missions didn’t provide opportunities for you to experiment and play around with your god-like powers. Each and every mission is unique in design and in location, there are crumbling sanatoriums, museums, train stations, clockwork mansions, apartments, and government abodes. Each mission has it’s share of secrets that can be discovered, like a secret passageway or a secret annex, it’s a ploy to get you to explore the surroundings and see what you can find.
As in the first game, each level is self-contained that has rats, Victorian era architecture, and beautiful vistas that is populated by both NPCs and enemies. Karnaca is beautiful, the style mashes up the lush visuals that blend with the original’s stylized graphics. The change of steampunk scenery is appreciated, the layout of Karnaca is interesting although similar to Dunwall: You have favelas, mountains, verdure and overall Victorian presence that replaces the skyscrapers, smoke stacks, and the grimy tone of the original game.
You don’t really revisit stages and the stages are self-contained parts of the city, you don’t really get a sense of how big Karnaca really is and despite a level-based look at the city, the sense and feeling of being there is just stunning. I felt like I was there, in the city with Emily and exploring the city with her. Notes, books, coins, and other lore are scattered across each level, the environment also tells a story and all of this concludes with flavorful and interesting look at Karnaca.
The story’s pace doesn’t really work for Dishonored 2, this is perhaps the reason why I kept falling asleep and getting bored with the game: The pace of Dishonored 2 is very slow and also it seems to answer questions you may have right when they introduced them: the mysteries are brilliant, the level mechanics are awesome, and there’s always fresh and original ideas being churned out with each new level but they end up being one-time gimmicks instead of a grand-looking, mind-blowing experience or design. However, it is fascinating to see what things you’ll play with however you see fit.
Morality is mostly a player-based choice, a binary choice inputted by the player: Slaying your enemies will make Dunwall unsafe and your reign a terrible one, and if you don’t kill your enemies and show them mercy, the ending will result in a happier ending. Dishonored 2 tries to expand your scope of decision-making by letting hear the dark secrets of NPC’s with the whispering Heart, but it ends up being nothing really because I never used the Heart or really cared for it.
In the end, any criticism just feels like I’m nit-picking which probably I am of a game that ends up being a complete masterpiece. My first playthrough was a violent one, with Emily killing enemies left and right which I finished in 15 hours over the course of 3 months (?) so I might go back in and play with Corvo and Emily, see how the story will end if I do things non-violently. Dishonored 2 is a masterpiece of a game, and you must play it.