• Dishonored 2 Review

    Dishonored 2 is a unique type of fantasy game with some Steampunk inspiration, like its predecessor. They resemble no other game world in an artistic sense. Being this unique is already an accomplishment.

    The technology seen throughout the world often resembles the 1800s, yet many other pieces are far more advanced. Whale oil is the backbone behind the most advanced technology in the game, a very potent power source.

    The lore of Dishonored was highly praised for its depth and originality. Much of that same greatness is seen in Dishonored 2 albeit to a lesser extent, as it seems to have less readable texts, or more specifically it reuses its own texts far more than the first.

    Playing Dishonored as well as its two expansions, The Knife of Dunwall and Brigmore Witches, is an absolute necessity. The plot is a direct continuation of all three, and the main characters are born in them. The fates of most of Dishonored's characters are revealed in this one, although the game makes no mention of Piero Joplin and doesn't say nearly enough about Callista given how close she was with Emily.

    The trailers for Dishonored 2 reveal the backbone of the plot: Emily Kaldwin is grown up now and is the reigning Empress. Her father, Corvo Attano (protagonist of the first game), is the Royal Protector. A witch named Delilah (the antagonist of Dishonored: Brigmore Witches) manages to steal the throne from Emily and separate her from her father.

    During Delilah's coup, you are forced to choose your protagonist. Emily or Corvo. Both have unique gameplay powers (essentially spells) although you can choose not to not accept the gift/mark of the Outsider, a mysterious otherworldly entity. Yes, even as Corvo who was already given the mark in the first game. Denying the mark (or requesting it be removed as Corvo) leaves you with no special powers whatsoever, a gameplay style that a few may prefer.

    Dialogue changes based on your protagonist choice are exactly what is expected, but the game doesn't change much at all. The same events occur and that's fine, it makes sense.

    Once again, Dishonored 2 responds to how many people you kill. Killing above a certain amount of people in a mission will result in you receiving a "High Chaos" rating for that mission, which contributes to your overall chaos rating which is again either high or low. High chaos results in a more cynical ending as well as more severe Bloodfly infestations around Karnaca, the primary location of the game, a different country entirely seemingly modeled after Spain to some degree.

    On that note, according to Dishonored 2 and its developers, a mix of low chaos and high chaos results from Dishonored are canon.

    One of the three post-mission screens showing your progress. Killing humans, even ones with the latest stage of Bloodfly infection, is tallied here and counts toward your chaos rating. Killing non-human creatures and destroying non-living creatures has no effect.

    Spoilers on this page begin here.

    Your chosen protagonist is captured during the coup, and kept in... a room with open windows? It's a temporary cell so they say, but still that's quite stupid. Needless to say, to escape you simply open one of the windows and walk across the ledge outside.

    The first mission is thus set in Dunwall, as the coup occurs right in Dunwall Tower's throne room. It's a remade version of the Dunwall exterior map seen in Dishonored. The area is different and it's nice to see how things have changed. After this, the entire game save for the very last mission is set in Karnaca. On the last mission you return to Dunwall.

    Throughout Dishonored 2, you generally pursue less clear leads than in the first. In the first game, you are surrounded by powerful people with political influence, but that is not the case this time around. Dishonored had a hub in a town centered around the Hounds Pit Pub, with memorable characters. It was as if you really knew your target when pursuing them in Dishonored, the exposition was solid.

    In Dishonored 2, your hub is a ship out at sea called the Dreadful Wale. But for some reason, the ship has no crew, only a captain? Throughout the game there are no more than three characters on the ship other than yourself, although for most of the game it's only two others. Character development is somewhat of an afterthought for two of them, and not even a thought for the third. Dishonored 2 relies on the first game for character development, it seems to think because the first game did a pretty good job with Sokolov that they can take it easy in this one. All around character development and dialogue are lacking, while the first game was quite strong by video game standards in both regards.

    What's worse is the exposition. It seems so rushed for every character and for many of the plot events. The goal of most missions, at least at the start, is to find a specific person and either kill them or eliminate them in a non-lethal way, while picking up important information or leads. Often times, at the start of a mission I ask myself, "Who am I going after again?" While in the first game, I felt Corvo's burning hate for every single enemy target.

    The characters and overall story just seem rushed in Dishonored 2, and it is unfortunate. Not enough characters, no memorable dialogue, hardly any character development, not nearly enough exposition.

    Boat rides are used to start almost every mission.

    Even the more subtle details are... less detailed and rushed again. Many readable texts can be found throughout the game but there aren't as many unique ones as the first game, so expect repetition here. One item in the game is Empress Jessamine's heart, which was also present in the first game. Equipping it reveals runes and bone charms through walls, and using it will cause Jessamine to say something. When looking at an NPC, she will reveal a secret about that person. She has far less general remarks (that is, when not pointing at an NPC) than in the first game.

    Factions within the game's story are not explored deep enough at all; these factions include the Overseers and the Howler gang (nothing at all is done with them). A plot device in this game called The Oraculum, a magical machine that's meant to be very powerful and important, is only really discussed in one mission. It is never properly given the spotlight, it seems thrown into the plot at the last minute.

    Another plot point is a mysterious disease that turns someone into a superhuman killing machine, and of course a cure for this was nearly completed by someone who died just before he could finish the job. And, of course you arrive and can finish the cure if you choose to. Once this mission is over, said disease disappears from the story entirely. Again it seems rushed and painfully generic.

    Even Delilah, the main antagonist, has so little exposition and even less character development. At the end of the game we are shown what her real motives are, her grand vision, and it's just head-scratching in an absurd way.

    Spoilers end here.

    It is a shame that from a writing perspective, Dishonored 2 is mediocrity next to the first. Neither game is meant to have a deeply involving story, they are supposed to be fun games with a unique style and an impressive world.

    Still, both the lethal and non-lethal methods for eliminating the game's antagonists are clever and satisfying. The game still has a few emotional moments even if it doesn't seem like it would at first.

    Let's go to the next page and see if Dishonored 2 can redeem itself with its gameplay.

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Grompz's Avatar
      Grompz -
      Thanks for the review Jester. It seems that the storytelling in general is deserving a mention into the 'Biggest Letdown' categorie for the 2016 GOTY Awards so far.
    1. Jester's Avatar
      Jester -
      That does seem to be the trend. There's this game, then Deus Ex: Mankind Divided which suffers from Square Enix splitting it up into three games resulting in some discombobulation and rushed/unfinished subplots and characters. Then Tyranny which seems like someone's first RPG creation.
    1. Jester's Avatar
      Jester -
      I have to say, they really cleaned up their implementation of id Tech 5 for Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. No apparent optimization issues and it runs surprisingly well on Ryzen. Almost always getting 120 FPS (V-Sync target) at 1440p max details. Of course, anything less would be ridiculous with a GTX 1080 Ti, so this is not so much praise as relief.

      But on a loosely related side note, it is downright awesome to be able to play an immersive, super fluid game like this with analog movement on the Wooting One keyboard. It's a real game changer.
    1. Charcharo's Avatar
      Charcharo -
      id Tech 5 is such an infuriating experience lol.
      The Evil Within 2 uses a modified version of it and it still has issues. id Tech 6 or GTFO for modern games IMHO.