PC & console game reviews
WE REVIEW THE LATEST BIG-RELEASE AND INDIE GAMES ON PC AND CONSOLES, DISHONORED 2.
Dishonored 2 A MASTERWORK FROM THE ‘IMMERSIVE SIM’ SCHOOL OF GAME DESIGN. $69 | PC, PS4, Xbox One | dishonored.bethesda.net
OVER THE LAST couple of years, Serious Videogame People have taken to calling certain games ‘immersive simulations’ — firstperson roleplaying titles which elegantly hide their underlying systems, with the aim of making you feel like you’re genuinely immersed in their richly-detailed worlds. Dishonored 2 is a prime example of the immersive sim done right. Like its forebear, it lets you sneak, explore and (optionally) stab and shoot your way through an intricately constructed steampunky city populated with characters who are often pompous, occasionally savage and, on rare occasions, sometimes even kind.
Playing as either Corvo Attano — the original’s protagonist — or his daughter Emily Kaldwin, the goal is once again to uncover a conspiracy and the plotters behind it... and that basically means killing (or finding some way to ‘deal with’) those conspirators one by one in a series of missions. The action now takes place in the southern port of Karnaca, which has a distinct Mediterranean vibe.
Despite its linear story design, Dishonored 2 still gives you a lot of leeway in how you play it. Each mission occurs over a huge open area, and there’s lots of terrain to freely explore with ample rewards for doing so — bonecharms and runes (the dark-magic objects used to enhance your character’s supernatural abilities) are scattered far and wide. As a stealth game, it encourages you to avoid killing — but when you do have to resort to combat, it’s swift, bloody and brutal. Against most enemies, successfully blocking an attack allows you to perform an instant (and gory) execution. Dismemberments are common, often leading to darkly-humourous episodes where you scurry around, gathering up body parts before anyone else notices the mess.
Depending on how bloodthirsty you are, the game does twist and change to present you with a different story — and even the world itself will adjust based on your approach.
There’s much about Dishonored 2 that makes it feel more like a continuation of the original than a traditional videogame sequel. It’s still a romp, though — teleporting from windowsill to lamp-post to rooftop, sneaking up behind enemies to take them out (or, just as often, dropping down on them from above) and using your range of powers to figure out how to tackle a particular problem are all as compelling here as in the first Dishonored. Corvo and Emily’s different powers also mean you need to adjust your approach with each, making a second playthrough of the game a different experience.
This is a masterful example of immersivesim game design that brings together storytelling, world-building and thrilling gameplay into a polished and pleasing
Gorgeous view that, innit?
Stab too many people and the game’s tone and levels will change to reflect your bloodthirst.