By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on November 14, 2016
It's always annoying when that certain chain-smoking, wine-guzzling and ever-complaining aunt comes by unannounced and wrecks your lazy Sunday. Well, if you think that's bad, just picture this: a long-lost family member suddenly pops up , takes your throne, turns your people against you, makes you public enemy numero uno and, oh yes, turns a loved one to stone. That would suck even harder, wouldn't it?! Let's just say that Empress Emily Kaldwin and her father, the awesome and well-known bodyguard and allround tough guy Corvo Attano, are having a bit of a rough day!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Dishonored is back! It has been fifteen years since the shocking murder of the previous Empress, Emily's mother and Corvo's lover, Jessamine Kaldwin. And, after a relatively peaceful period, there's trouble brewing in the Kingdom of the Isles once again, and it's up to Emily and Corvo to solve it! Well, I say Emily AND Corvo, but it's actually Emily OR Corvo. Because, although we start the game's introductory level as Emily; when the Kingdom is taken over by Emily's supernatural-powered aunt, who everyone though died long ago, we get to choose as what character we would like to play. Are we going for Corvo's overall state of grumpiness and awesome array of powers, or will we take the Empress for a spin, discovering all-new powers and a slightly different personality?
So, why was it so easy to turn the population against their once beloved empress. Well, apart from the fact that people just tend to hate people who are in charge, Emily and Corvo are being accused of orchestrating a series of gruesome murders. You see, during her rule, Emily ruffled some feathers and may have rubbed some people the wrong way. This created an opposition who, to say the least, wasn't really a fan of the Empress and her family. Then, all of a sudden, everyone who publicly opposes her seems to develop a serious case of being dead, which doesn't really help the situation.
One especially eager journalist connected the dots and dubbed the mysterious assassin "The Crown Killer". The papers start writing stories about a possible connection between opposing the Empress and winding up dead, and that's all she wrote. Well, that's one way to enrage the already population even more, isn't it?! In any case, when Emily's aunt shows up and accuses her and Corvo of murdering the opposition, most people just can't wait to jump on the bandwagon, leaving poor Emily and Corvo (or in this case: one of them) to fend for themselves. But, with the help of an array of supernatural powers and some old friends, you set out to right the wrongs and save your empire from another descent into darkness!
Dishonored 2 follows roughly the same rules as its predecessor did, with the addition of a few extra's. Corvo retains the bulk his old powers, albeit reset to their basic values. Emily Kaldwin provides the player with a whole new array of powers, some similar to Corvo's, but under a different name. Where Corvo may utilize his "Blink" power to transport himself from one spot to another in the blink of an eye, Emily uses her "Far Reach power to accomplish basically the same thing. But, in addition to transporting herself, she can also use this power to pull objects and dead bodies towards herself. If the item she pulls towards herself is a collectable or consumable item, it will be automatically added to her inventory. Other objects can be caught and thrown to be used to distract guards.
Apart from her Far Reach ability, Emily also uses an array of other powers. One such power is called "Mesmerize". This ability distracts enemies to a point where Emily can pass unnoticed without the need to kill or knock out her opponents. A third ability is called "Doppelganger". This ability lets Emily conjure up a likeness of herself that can also be used as a distraction. The "Shadow Walk" ability lets Emily transform herself into a dark, misty version of herself and can be used to either pass by opponents unnoticed or to sneak up close to them and then attacking them, seemingly out of nowhere. The final new ability is my absolute favorite addition to the Dishonored powers universe: the "Domino" ability. This awesome new power lets you link together targets and make everyone that has been linked to a certain character share its fate.
Naturally, all of your powers can be upgraded. As we're used to from the first game in the series, unlocking and upgrading your powers is done by collecting ancient runes and bone charms. Once you collect enough of these relics, they'll provide you with the possibility to unlock new abilities, or to upgrade your existing ones. Something we are definitely not used to from the original Dishonored game, is the fact that every powers now has lethal, as well as non lethal upgrades. This lets you choose the path you would prefer to take, according to your preferred play-style. The more relics you collect, the more powerful you will be, so remember to keep your eyes open for these valuable collectibles and use The Heart (which you may remember from the first Dishonored game) to locate and lock them.
If you think that only collecting runes and bone charms just isn't enough for you, then you're going to have a field day with Dishonored 2. Next to the aforementioned relics, you can also collect paintings and blueprints, as well as scour the environment for codes to safes all around the cities and increase your wealth. As an added bonus, many of the chapters in Dishonored 2 contain secret objectives, which you'll have to figure out for yourself by gathering information from audio logs and letters. You may pursue these extra objectives if you wish, but you don't need to, in order to reach the end of the chapter, which I personally think is a really cool way of challenging gamers just that much more!
Another cool thing that is added to Dishonored 2's roster of total awesomeness is the fact that both Emily an Corvo are fully voiced. If you remember correctly, Corvo never uttered a word during his adventures in the first Dishonored game. An although that never bothered me, I am glad that the developers chose to add vocals to the characters. This, in my opinion, makes them more relatable and helps you get into the game's story that much faster. And what a story it is: Murder, theft, deceit, excitement, supernatural powers, raging sandstorms, time-distortion, awesome characters and exceptionally beautiful environments all help to make Dishonored 2 an experience you won't soon forget!
Visually, Dishonored 2 is absolutely stunning. The steampunk-feel that made the original Dishonered look as awesome as it did is still there, while incorporating brand new design elements to expand the look even further. Although you start out in good-old Dunwall City, you'll soon make your way towards the city of Karnaca, which is mainly based on old cities in countries like Greece and Italy. The contrast with Dunwall makes Dishonored feel like something that is, at the same time, familiar and brand new. All the little details in the world turn it into a living, breathing place, that is just asking to be explored very thoroughly. It's the combination of all these factors that actually fuels the game and makes it come into its own, without forgetting the legacy that the first Dishonored game built. The rats in The first Dishonored game have been replaced with a brand new species of vermin: the Bloodfly. These winged menaces will attack you if you get too close and will lay eggs in human corpses, breeding more and more Bloodfly colonies if not kept in check.
Like in the original game, Dishonored 2 also features the Chaos-system. Killing everyone that you run into will cause a high level of chaos, causing the so-called Bloodfly infestation to spread more quickly and give the game a much darker ending. Avoiding fights or using only non-lethal takedowns will generate a low chaos level, resulting in a much more 'happily ever after' ending. This, coupled with the fact that you can actually choose with which character to play at the start of the game, raises Dishonored 2's replay value considerably!
Dishonored 2 is nothing less than one hell of a game, that is guaranteed to keep you occupied for hours on end, especially if you play it at least once with each of the two protagonists. So, will Emily and Corvo save their empire and bring back peace to the tortured lands, or will they succumb to the lure of the darkness and plunge the empire into a period of utter chaos? Well, ladies and gentlemen, there's only one way to find out: play the game! Then, and only then, you can decide the outcome of this conflict and do things the way you think is best. So, grab your gear, take to the shadows and set out to take back that which is rightfully yours!