Dishonored was always a game that I meant to play. I kept seeing it on the shelf in stores and promising to buy it one day. Everyone who knows my gaming preferences told me to play it and I never got around to it. So when Dishonored 2 was released I made sure that I picked up the edition that included the Dishonored Definitive Edition, deciding it was time to finally get involved! I also chose to stream my playthroughs as a way of ensuring that I would complete both games from start to finish because it’s far to easy to start a game and not get around to finishing! So while I mainly focus on Dishonored 2 in this little review, I also thought I would share some thoughts on its predecessor for those of you who have yet to play this Arkane title and are considering it in the future.
Dishonored was a delight and I’m incredibly annoyed at myself for not playing sooner. The story of a murdered Empress, her protector Corvo (our protagonist) and missing Emily caught up in a devious plot to take over the throne. There are deadly rats spreading their plague and plenty of thugs and soldiers to avoid or take out, depending on your play style of course. I opted for high chaos throughout, not by choice but usually by accident and after failing miserably at the end of the game, I managed to go back and save the day again. The first game provided the option of stealth or destruction with a plethora of powers to play with which is pretty much my favorite style of gameplay. It was thoroughly enjoyable and with the added bonus of the DLC, it meant that I got to spend a little more time with the game. I am glad in many ways that I finished Dishonored and could jump straight into the sequel as I don’t think I could have waited much longer to play it.
In Dishonored 2, Emily is now the Empress of Dunwall, following in her mother’s footsteps with Corvo by her side. But with great power comes enemies. And so Delilah, Emily’s so called long lost Aunt appears to take the throne that she feels is rightfully hers. Then comes the first challenge of the game, who to play as. Emily or Corvo. While I really wanted to play as Corvo again, I thought it would be best to go through this game as Emily just to see what she had to offer as a protagonist. But once you’ve made your choice, you cannot go back (unless you start the game over again of course). As my play through was with Emily, I can only comment on my experience with her, but if you did play as Corvo, please let me know as I’d love to hear how the game panned out for you!
Dishonored 2 follows very closely to but improves on the first game in my opinion. The art style, the sound, the movement and of course the combat and powers system remains the same but feels spruced up a bit. I am glad that this is the case as it feels like a natural follow on from Dishonored. As a story, from Emily’s perspective at least, I did enjoy the narrative as you work your way back towards Dunwall after being overthrown to take Delilah down. The missions along the way test your abilities and of course, allow you to acquire more powers for your arsenal. You don’t have many friends in this game. There is a lot of social unrest and you are not on home soil for a substantial portion of the story as you spend the majority of the game in Karnaca, unfamiliar territory for our Empress/Protector. Familiar weapons return to complete your inventory and if you mastered traps and mines before, you should have no problem reacquainting yourself with these again. It feels like you were never away. You are reunited with an old friend, get to peek through keyholes and the HUD hasn’t really changed either so you can slip right back into it and get cracking.
The updated graphics suit the story and the game play well as the overall dark mood of the piece creeps through even in the richer, lighter scenery that you find yourself in. While all of the guards do look the same again, nothing is out of place and it compliments the style that Arkane established with Dishonored. There is a feeling of eeriness throughout the game, mainly due to the enemies you will encounter. Graphically, I was particularly in love with the timepiece that allows you to move between the past and present in order to make your way around a mansion. This was particularly impressive as you view a window of the past as it was happening in order to judge when to jump back to avoid enemies or get through barricaded areas. It’s very clever and I didn’t want to stop using it. Another highlight of the game is the Clockwork Mansion and you should play through the game just to do this section alone. I had played it previously as a demo at EGX and managed to do quite well all things considered, but my confidence this time around was almost instantly smashed when everything was going wrong and I just couldn’t get through as easily as I had before! The mansion is beautiful, tricky and filled with enemies including Clockwork Soldiers who can be a pain to dispatch if you don’t get it right. But this chapter alone is worth playing.
Dishonored gave you the option of adopting either a stealthy or low/high chaos approach to the game. This continues again throughout Dishonored 2, but I did feel that even on normal difficulty, it was more challenging when it came to stealth. I don’t think I managed anything other than high chaos throughout the game. It felt more difficult, which isn’t a problem of course otherwise it would be too easy but as I progressed, I did seem to get spotted quickly even when I thought I was being the best stealth master ever. If you manage to get through this game without killing anyone or being spotted, I would most certainly tip my hat to you as I couldn’t manage to get through a room without something going wrong! I tested out Emily’s powers to try and figure out the best way of sneaking through areas, but you need to make sure you have the runes to upgrade powers like Shadow Walk to reduce the likelihood of you being spotted if you get too close to an enemy. It is worth trying to unlock and upgrade your powers as they do come in handy and can get you out of a tight spot when you need it most…. Unless you’re me and you end up killing everyone anyway.
It’s difficult to continue without giving more of the story away and so I think all I can really say is that I really can’t fault these games. I love the art, the play style, the challenges it can present and the stories are pretty good overall. If you are new to Dishonored, buy the edition that gives you both games and the DLC but be sure to play the main campaign and the DLC first before moving onto the latest instalment. I also like the length of the games as you know you will finish the game without the worry of it being over too quicky or dragging on so you end up resenting it. I like that I have ticked two more games off of my very long list of titles to complete and I would happily go back and play them again especially as I can choose Corvo next time and I’ll be interested to see things through his eyes. There are a couple of different endings depending on who you choose and what you do at the end of the game so there is a replay appeal there if you’re looking to see what happens or want those all-important achievements and trophies! With Arkane delivering Prey in May, I’m really looking forward to playing another offering from the studio as they have really won me over with the Dishonored games and they may even have moved up into some of my favorite games in recent years.
If you missed my play through streams for Darkworld Gaming, check out my YouTube playlists for both games to see how terrible I was at being stealthy… it really is a sight to behold but boy did I enjoy every minute of it!
Dishonored – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmYJmeVMvxlPNRatrLuJRsaT3L3Ewrh3b
Dishonored 2 – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmYJmeVMvxlPHW-WBEPbj1DRY8i726g0l