Overall, Dishonored 2 is a proper sequel. The core gameplay from the original is kept intact so if you loved those mechanics then you’re in for a treat. If you didn’t then there’s nothing in this installment that will make you change your mind.
Dishonored 2 is the sequel to 2012’s stealth action game about a man falsely accused of assassinating an empress. The new installment follows the footsteps of the original so closely that they’re within arms-reach of each other.
Similar to the first Dishonored you can cast spells, use weapons and tools to traverse the environment and fight your enemies. Corvo and Emily have different powers so there are incentives for at least two playthroughs. There’s also the option to play with no powers, giving cause for a third. Some of the spells are usable in lethal and non-lethal ways, so those who prefer the latter won’t feel too restrained in their restraint. The high/low chaos system returns and, thankfully, not only affects the ending and the environment but NPCs as well.
The plot is unimaginative. It’s a rehash of the original: you are removed from your position of power and then you go out to set things right. Even the false accusation of murder is back, although this time you’re allegedly responsible for several deaths instead of one. And similar to the original, you take out a key target per level with the option to do it lethally or not. From a plot and gameplay standpoint, Dishonored 2 plays it very safe. You get more of the same—a lot of it.
While the plot feels recycled, the characters do not. Protagonists Corvo and Emily are both voiced, making them feel more relatable since they can express themselves. They will talk of how they feel about their current situations and objectives. The antagonist and her inner circle are given sufficient backgrounds to make the player understand their motivations, personalities and how they relate to each other. And even though it happens sparingly, supporting characters get their share of the limelight as well.
If there’s one thing that stood out to me in this sequel, then it’s experiencing the great care that was taken in world-building and level design. Karnaca, where most of the action takes place, actually feels like a duchy. Their key people, economy and politics are sufficiently established. The locales that you visit are diverse enough to feel different from each other. Whatever effort that was skimped on with the plot feels like it was diverted here.
The levels themselves are great. They’re compact enough to make them easy to memorize but also branch out adequately to still feel explorable. And exploration is mostly rewarding. Deus Ex is my personal standard when it comes to providing multiple paths to solving a problem and Dishonored 2 comes at a very close second. There’s almost always an alternate path or solution that you can take to accomplish your goals. It’s just a matter of finding them.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that certain areas in the game are elevated by their level design. These places are nothing short of brilliant.
The game has technical issues that ruin the experience. I played it on the PS4 and the game would randomly hang. When this happened in other games, I would usually press the PS button and then close the application. I could not do this on Dishonored 2 because the system would become completely unresponsive. After a few minutes, the PS4 would close the game on its own and give me the option to report the crash. When I relaunched the game, it would run so slowly that the initial loading would take minutes to complete before I could even get to the main menu. In order to run the game smoothly again, I needed to restart the PS4. And this is from a game that had a 9-gigabyte day-one patch.
Overall, Dishonored 2 is a proper sequel. The core gameplay from the original is kept intact so if you loved those mechanics then you’re in for a treat. If you didn’t then there’s nothing in this installment that will make you change your mind. The lore and setting are expanded and revisited. We get to know new characters while learning more about the ones we’re already familiar with. There’s plenty to discover both in the lore and locales. Level design is excellent. Hopefully a fix to the technical issues arrives soon because without it, it’s difficult to play.