Dishonored 2 takes place fifteen years after Corvo Attano restored Emily Kaldwin as the rightful ruler to the throne after her mother’s assassination and plot to kill Emily and frame Corvo for both their murders. Supported by her father and the royal protector Corvo Attano, Emily Kaldwin has ascended to the throne as empress of Dunwall which has since her rule prospered immensely. While Dunwall might be prospering under her rule, not everything is going so well for Emily behind the castle walls. “The Crown Killer” is silencing all of Emily’s enemies and critics alike, casting doubt and suspicion on her rule as empress. During one of the remembrance ceremony for Emily’s slain mother, a witch named Delilah appears and claims to be her aunt and the true heir to the throne. She then proceeds to accuse Emily of being “The Crown Killer”.
And in the process, she leads a coup against Emily and Corvo to take her rightful place as empress of Dunwall. I had the choice of playing Dishonored 2 either on the PC or PS4, and for obvious reasons due to the technical issues on the PC I decided to review the PlayStation 4 version. Also, this review is based off two playthroughs of the game, the first playthrough was with Emily Kaldwin low chaos none lethal and the second was high chaos kill everything on sight as Corvo Attano. The reasoning behind this is that depending on how you played during the course of the game it affected the outcome of the games ending. Low chaos playthrough gets you a good ending, while a high chaos playthrough gets you a less than desirable ending. Also if you are a PlayStation trophy collector you most definitely need a second playthrough to collect all the trophies, if you are so inclined. As some trophies would stop you from doing a non-lethal playthrough and getting a good ending.
As some trophies would stop you from doing a non-lethal playthrough and getting a good ending. There are a total of eight chapters in the game, while it may sound short but each chapter is about 3-4 hours depending on if you want to collect all the charms, bone charms, blueprints and other game-related collectibles. So you are looking at around 28-30 hours per playthrough, so if you go for a two playthrough session you look at a 60+ hour game. All of the original game’s gameplay mechanics have made a welcome return to the second game, albeit more polished and refined with a few added extras. And honestly why try and re-invent the wheel, when you can improve on the design, so everything that worked so well in the first game makes an appearance in the second game. Albeit presented in a more polished and improved way.
Visually the game looks impressive on the PS4 and runs just as good as it plays, unlike its PC counterpart the game ran at a respectable thirty frames per second throughout the entire game with no or little frame drops or slowdowns. I also did not experience any game-breaking bugs during my 60 hours playing the game and it only crashed my console once when it froze during a cutscene and I had to manually reset my console. Technical issues aside the city of Karnaca is brought to life brilliantly. It really does feel like the city is alive, with dock workers going about their daily business while the city guard does their patrols. The entire environment of Dishonored 2 can be manipulated and interacted with and can be used to your advantage. Or if you are not careful the same environment can work against you when you are sneaking up on your target.
For those who haven’t played the first game and was thinking of playing the second, I highly recommend playing the first game, while technically you do not need to play the first game to understand the plot of the second game. It does help filling in some of the lore and discussions that take place during the course of the second game. Not to mention that the first game is an amazing stealth based game just like the second game in the franchise. Just like the first game the second’s gameplay can be approached in two different way, either killing everything that moves in a none stealthy manner using the various gadgets and weaponry. Or doing the exact opposite and using the shadows and levels to sneak around and taking out enemies stealthily and unnoticed. I felt that playing stealthily was a lot more rewarding than the original and far more challenging overall.
Both Emily and Corvo share the same basic weapons and tools. All the classic weapons and gadgets make a return from the first game with the addition of a few new one. You get a crossbow with customizable bolts, a pistol, a sword, and a variety of grenades and different spring traps. Corvo retains most of his powers and abilities from the previous Dishonored game so I won’t be covering them as I assume for this review most of you have already played the first game. Compared to Corvo, Emily skill set definitely favors a stealthy approach. Her powers reward you for setting up traps or being subtle and patient when stalking your targets. For instance: Domino allows you to tag multiple enemies with a special mark. Anything that happens to one enemy instantly happens to the other marked targets allowing you to drop an entire room filled with enemies in a blink of an eye.
Then there is her Doppelganger power, that allows her to create clones that can act on their own or on her behalf making for excellent distractions. And unlike Corvo, Emily does not possess the blink power, she has Far Reach, which lets her summon a void tentacle to pull her to a location. The tentacle can also grab objects or enemies and pull them back to her once it has been fully upgraded, this is an extremely familiar mechanic that was also used in The Darkness. I cannot really say who I enjoyed playing as most, Corvo’s powers is more versatile and instantly powerful like a bull in a China shop. While on the flip side Emily’s has a higher overall potential and can be compared to that of a surgical instrument, precise and accurately able to remove targets from a room without anyone even noticing.
Just like you can approach a mission either going in killing anything that moves or doing things the stealthy way, you can achieve your mission goals in multiple ways. By either sneaking along rooftops or using the streets and shops as cover as you sneak your way to your target or mission goals, which you can either kill or knock out. While killing your target ends the mission, knocking them out gives you a secondary less lethal option if you choose to go down that route. Which in my opinion is a far more satisfying experience than just outright killing your target. And it adds to the overall challenge of the game as you need to figure out how to take care of your targets without getting noticed by the enemies you just sneaked passed or avoided while getting to your target. Which brings me to the only three issue I have with the game.
Firstly the IA in the game is highly unpredictable, which does make the game more “realistic” but on the other hand, makes things like simply sneaking past an enemy guard a multiple reloading scenario if you are going for a sneaky playthrough. Because they end up having eyes in the back of their heads and turn around just as you sneak past them, or hear you making no noise at all and proceeding to find you from across the level. And the most frustrating of all randomly changing their patrol routes, interfering with your well thought out and 30 minutes of rehearsal of how it was supposed to go down. While some might view this as inconstant IA programming others might view this as an added aspect of realism. And honestly, I viewed it as a bit of both when it went my way I loved it and when it did not I hated the unpredictableness of the IA.
And the second issue I have is how the game registers your lethal and none lethal kills, for instance, I would do a non-lethal takedown of a guard. And carefully hide his body only to be randomly discovered by some blood flies, that proceeded to kill said guard and after finishing said level notice I have one confirmed kill against my name even though the guard’s death was not directly caused by me. Same applies to civilians who end up running into the guard’s crossfire and inevitably gets mowed down by their bullets or running into a still activated wall of light, which for strange reason also gets added to your kill count. And lastly, for some reason, the collision detection for unconscious bodies don’t work so well. I would carefully hide an unconscious body only to accidently drop him or her on a breakable object like a piece of wood only to have them mysteriously die in the process.
The above issues only affect you when going for a stealthy non-lethal playthrough so make sure to save regularly and check your stats to make sure you don’t need to restart the entire level just because you “accidently” and indirectly killed someone. Dishonored 2 is an excellent sequel to an excellent game, and improves on the weaknesses of the first game and polishes its strengths even more. It retains everything that was good about the first game and used it as a foundation to build which I can safely say is a better game than the original. Dishonored 2 is a great stealth action game that is filled with tons of replayability, which begs you to dip your toes into the expertly crafted world that Arkane Studios created for us. I can wholeheartedly recommend this game for the Dishonored fans and even the newcomers to the franchise as it is definitely worthy of your attention.