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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.

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