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[…] It’s the cutscenes, the art, the lore and the story that makes the Dishonored series what it is: a beautifully rendered whale oil-powered steampunk world of magic and disease.
By Jasmine Dodson
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Arkane Studios
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (R)
Release: 11th November 2016
Set fifteen years after the first game, Dishonored 2 is the long-awaited sequel to Corvo Attano’s initial incarceration in the city of Dunwall. After the struggles of the first game, Empress Emily Kaldwin is once again the rightful ruler of the Empire of the Isles and, unsurprisingly, that right is challenged in developer Arkane Studios’ latest game.
What started as speculation — as most game sequels do (one can never be sure if production is going to stop halfway through) — grew to be true, and so grew public excitement for it. Dishonored 2 Collector’s Edition came with a free digital copy of Dishonored, in-game bonus content and, of course, the collector’s items. Corvo’s mask came in three parts: the mask itself, the stand and the base — pretty easy to put together. Emily’s ring — one could discern that she has big hands from it — came in a dark purple-lined box. A two-sided poster, one of the new empress and main adversary in Dishonored’s Knife of Dunwall DLC, Delilah Copperspoon, and the other a tribute to Jessamine Kaldwin, the previous empress, a welcome sight atop the collection.
Upon first launch of the game, having waited so long for this moment, it is unsurprising that the public was willing to wait half-an-hour in the hopes that their nearest store had one last pre-order copy available. What was loved about Dishonored has been brought into (and expanded upon) in the second game. The little things like how much loot was missed in the mission, whether or not a deal was struck with some shady guy in the corner for something equally dodgy (whale rune, anyone?) in return, as well as the method used to rid the world of another traitor, all these, and more, are logged by the game. As well as being given a high or low chaos rating, there’s also a four-point graph with one axis corresponding to stealth and the other to lethalness.
Four hours into a predominantly non-lethal playthrough, and while playing Corvo is a definite option for the future — it will be interesting to see how he’s been updated — Emily is the most immediately intriguing. She’s got a set of new powers, as well as sharing the familiar Blink power that both Daud and Corvo have, albeit renamed to Far Reach as later on it can be upgraded to pull enemies and objects alike. As with the previous game, attached bone charms provide new small power-ups, such as enabling Emily to siphon health from sources other than Sokolov’s Elixer, and with enough runes, she’ll be sneaking around quieter than a plague rat.
As first impressions go, the game is definitely different to its predecessor, while still maintaining the core concepts that made the first game what it was. The first couple of parts are quite cutscene heavy and the locations limited in size, but it’s the cutscenes, the art, the lore and the story that makes the Dishonored series what it is: a beautifully rendered whale oil-powered steampunk world of magic and disease. The objective markers and rune markers are great (although even with them enabled, the extra runes are still hard to find) but they are sometimes worth turning off, as a direct path to the target isn’t necessarily the best path, and a lot of Dishonored 2 is based on diverging decisions.
Overall, Dishonored 2 is fun. Fans of the first won’t be disappointed with the sequel, which is often something hard to say about other game and movie sequels. How will Emily’s smaller decisions influence her next level, the city of Karnaca and the overall ending? What role does Corvo play in all this? Only the Outsider knows.
Jasmine Dodson is a current Computer Games Technology student at Manchester Metropolitan University. When not weeping over a looming deadline and a severe lack of time because they’re gaming, they can be found sat painting miniatures while complaining about the poor lighting in the room. Follow them on Instagram: @jetzken