In  2012, Bethesda and Arkane Studios blessed us with the sublime Dishonored, a game with a unique art style and encouraged a variety of play styles, from stealth to all-out slaughter.  Also, depending on how you played and what choices you made, the game also offered more than one ending, relating to whether you were good or evil.  So in 2016, Dishonored 2 looks to expand on that variety not only by encouraging different play styles but also by offering you a choice of two playable protagonists, with the returning Corvo Attano [INCOMING SPOILER ALERT] and his daughter, Princess Emily Kaldwin.

The story of Dishonored 2 takes place around 15 years after the original and after being framed for the murder of Emily’s mother; Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, Emily has been restored to her rightful place on the throne to rule over Dunwall or so we thought.  However, enemies of Emily have been murdered at the hands of a serial killer known as the “Crown Killer”.  Enter Delilah Copperspoon, who claims to be the half-sister of Jessamine Kaldwin and believes she is the true heir to the throne of Dunwall.  In a sudden spat of brutality, Emily’s guards are killed and with history seemingly repeating itself, both Emily and Corvo are framed for the murders at the hands of the Crown Killer and thus sparking a manhunt in a bid to clear their names.  Now at this point, the story path will slightly alter somewhat, depending on whether you choose to play as either Emily or Corvo.


Dishonored 2 will offer the same kind of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choices, or as the game will put it “Chaos”.  The level of Chaos you receive will be determined by whether you kill, sedate or pass the enemy by, which will result in an end-of-level report on your actions.  Whether you choose to kill just about everyone in sight or simply render them unconscious is totally up to you.  Apparently, it is also possible to finish the entire game without making a single kill or utilising any of Emily’s or Corvo’s powers, but of course, you must be incredibly skilled at the game to do so.  Depending on who you choose to play will not only slightly change the story direction, but each playable character comes with its own unique supernatural powers.

Some powers will be available to both characters, such as the Dark Vision, which you may recognise from the first game.  This allows you to see through walls and depending on how you upgrade this power, it will also highlight potential paths and some other items of interest.  Favourites such as Blink also return to Corvo’s repertoire, with of course various upgrade possibilities such as being able to freeze time for a short duration, as well as the Devouring Swarm and Possession also making their return.


While Corvo is totally playable using stealth tactics, it seems that he is seen more as the brawn of the duo, whereas Emily is seen as the one to sneak through the shadows unseen and many of her powers help determine that.  For example, she has a power called Shadow Walk, which helps her to swiftly move through areas unseen, however, if you get too close to an enemy, you will draw their attention.

She also has powers that manifest a figure of herself called Doppelganger to draw over the enemy’s attention.  Another favourite power of mine for Emily is called Domino, which allows you to link together human targets (up to 4 depending on your upgrades) and whether you kill or sedate one of those linked targets, they will all fall simultaneously.  There are also many other powers that can help determine your Chaos rating, new and old available to Corvo and Emily, but I’ll leave the rest for you to discover.

Just like the first outing, you will unlock your powers and upgrades by acquiring Runes that are hidden throughout each of the levels.  As before, Bonecharms will also expand on those powers and abilities by granting you additional perks.  Certain Powers and Bonecharms will complement your choice of Chaos play style.  A new addition introduced in Dishonored 2 is the ability to craft your own Bonecharms; this in itself is yet another factor of how this game is catered to the player as an individual, offering even more variation.


As with the original game, one of the biggest factors that I appreciated was the freedom of choice and I’m not just talking about powers or player actions, but also about the level design.  As already stated, you could play through the entire game without making a single kill, but in terms of level design on how you can approach certain areas, this choice is equally as vast.  For example, there is a mission around the midway point called the Clockwork Mansion, which by the way, is almost one big puzzle in itself.

During my first playthrough of this mission, I must have spent around 2-3 hours within it.  Much of this was down to ‘Trial and Error’, which is a character of the game that I love.  But it wasn’t until I had cleared out many of the enemies within the mansion that I discovered that this level had tons of alternative routes.  Some are very well hidden and some hidden in plain sight.  This is representative of the game in general, you could easily spend many hours exploring a single mission and discovering the best route to take or if you know that level particularly well, you could fly through it unseen in a fraction of the time.  This really is a credit to the fantastic level of design at the hands of the developers at Arkane Studios.


Now, this is where I get very picky, only because I feel the need to find at least one negative, and with a game as good as Dishonored 2, that’s not been an easy task.  But if there was one thing that I would have loved to have seen implemented in the game, is some kind of save game carryover from the original, where your actions will be acknowledged and have a genuine impact in Dishonored 2.  But regardless, the story has still been crafted in a way that even though your data hasn’t been carried over, it still feels like your story.

We have been blessed with some fantastic games in 2016, from across many genres.  Following the success of the original Dishonored, it would have been easy for Arkane and Bethesda to rest on their laurels and release a carbon copy of what came before.  Yet, Dishonored 2 is a fantastic game which offers the player more choice than ever before in a world that is arguably even more seductive.  Developers Arkane Studios have taken what made the original so great and expanded on those foundations to give us a serious 2016 Game of the Year contender.