The main story is pretty strong, it picks up fifteen years after the events of the first game, Emily is now the Empress of the Isles and Corvo is her bodyguard. The Empress is then attacked, some betrayal goes on and either Corvo or Emily has to flee the empire in order to find out who is behind the plot, and regain the throne. It’s a similar progression to the original, as in its heavily linear and mainly consists of “kill a bunch of dudes because they’re part of something bigger, probably”. But the dudes you kill are all interesting characters, many of which we don’t get to spend anywhere near enough time with. The story progresses at a good pace, unfortunately however, it’s mostly progressed through narration over artwork. So rather than experiencing the progression it feels more like random jumps and conclusions that we’re not part of.
This time around you can play as Corvo or his daughter, Emily; the choice is made at the start of the game, so choose wisely. On my first run through I chose Emily because I wanted to try out the new character. Corvo has the same abilities as he had in the first game. For the unfamiliar that includes slow/stop time, teleportation and possession but Emily has an entire set of new abilities to play with. Corvo’s abilities are arguably more fun but I loved playing as Emily. Her abilities were new enough to be interesting and fun, but familiar enough that they didn’t take too long to master, the most useful being “Domino” which is the ability to link guards, so that whatever happens to one, happens to them all. So in the fairly common situation where 3 guards are hard to reach without being caught, you can link the guards, knock one out and the rest fall like… dominos. Once fully upgraded this ability really turns the game to easy mode as you can clear rooms out remarkably quickly.
(Bitch I’m Flawless)
Another similarity to the original is how you’re essentially guilt tripped into playing nice. One of the tools your assassin uses is a very useful heart that helpfully reveals the true colors of a person and shows the location of collectibles. After a casual murder spree or two, the heart will start calling you a monster and what not, if you listen to your heart and not kill anyone then you’re eventually going to get frustrated in that uniquely Dishonored way, to the point that you find yourself ripping everyone in the room to shreds just because they saw you after you loaded a quick save for the tenth time. For 90% of players, to properly enjoy the game it’s important not to get tied in to one playstyle, don’t be afraid to just rip in to guards if you have to, and shove that guilt inducing heart up its own aorta. I’d suggest a balance of stealth and insane murder sprees as that’s what makes Dishonored the brilliantly fun game it is.
(It’s murder time!!)
Be warned though, Dishonored 2 does feature a “good/bad” ending. So, if you want the good ending then don’t go around indiscriminately murdering people too often, for example, I massacred everyone in the first level and had to play like a Saint until level 5 just to regain a low chaos level and just about scraped the good ending. So it seems like Dishonored 2 follows the same rules as the first, in that you must kill 20% or more of the human population to get a high chaos ending (but don’t take my word for it)… most importantly though, save early and save often.
There’s a lot of fun to be had linking abilities and weapons together to create utter chaos and the game really does reward you for originality. The controls are simple and pretty intuitive, it feels amazing zipping around with void power or just vaulting over obstacles, but sometimes when trying to do something very specific, the controls can get quite nitpicky and there is nothing quite as irritating as getting caught after setting up a plan, executing it perfectly, then not being given the prompt to knock out a guard when you teleport behind him, so you just crouch there, like a knob, repeatedly blocking at this guy’s spine!
Possibly my favorite thing about the Dishonored franchise, is the extent that the surrounding universe is established, and 2 is no exception. There are countless books, documents, audio tapes etc scattered around the world, so if you’re the kind of player that loves optional lore and information, you are going to have a field day with this. You should come across most, if not all of these if you choose to hunt down runes and bonecharms. These help improve your powers and give you abilities or passive traits, but some of them are a right pain to find. So unless you’re a completionist it might not be worth your time hunting down everything.
I’m usually of the mindset that sequels are never as good as the first. But all in all, I loved Dishonored 2. It’s a fantastic addition to the franchise, it’s adds a lot to the world, the abilities and story are great, the controls are smooth and in general they’ve taken what was great in the first and polished it to the point that they managed to avoid “sequelitis”.