As I promised last week, I’ve gotten back into Dishonored 2 (man, it really pains me to not spell it “Dishonoured”…).
I absolutely loved the first Dishonored game. Loved it.
There isn’t a game from the last console generation that I have so much fondness for. The combination of a sandbox-type approach to every mission, solid controls, the option to do things either by stealth or complete chaos, and the wonderful wonderful “blink” ability.
A supernatural assassin, a unique visual style and the opportunity to really play around with things.
Really cool abilities, mixed with the open-endedness of each mission meant that you could approach each one a hundred times and never have the same experience.
Decent dialogue and a half-decent narrative, it all just fell into place. A first-person stealth game in a brand new universe. I don’t think I’d played anything like it, certainly not with the level of polish it came out with on the Xbox 360.
To me Dishonored was a revelation. The realisation of all of my favourite types of game and mechanics, and combined in a seamless way.
Well, Dishonored 2 isn’t going to be a hard sell to me then is it?
Easy sell indeed. I was ready for more, without a doubt. Champing at the bit for all the new information, eager to get stuck back into the world of Corvo and The Outsider.
So I did, I got it for Christmas 2016, and got stuck in straight away.
Oh crap, I have to choose my protagonist? Emily or Corvo? Corvo, of course, right? Right?
The story starts up, the stakes are made apparent and off we go.
No matter what I do, I feel like I’m only half playing the game, because there are two people to choose from, with different abilities. I have a loyalty to my man Corvo Attano, but what am I missing out on?
So I started to play the game, thoroughly enjoying being able to stalk and skulk around in the shadows, nice big sandbox areas to play in, options and loads to do. Great, more of the same from the first game, but no major shift. It was familiar and comfortable, but I wasn’t hooked-in, always feeling like I should have perhaps changed things up and gone with Emily.
Then I hit the Clockwork Mansion………a literal mansion that is built to be a puzzle at the same time. Not like a maze, but like a fully mechanical, wall-moving, floor-moving puzzle. Absolutely incredible level design here, stunning.
The attention to detail, the variation of each level is great, loads to explore and all these hidden nooks and crannies to creep around.
It looks great, it sounds excellent (honestly, whack some headphones on and just wander through a map, everything feels alive and haunting) and everything is mechanically solid, really excellent.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something in Dishonored 2 that just isn’t compelling me to want to go on.
I’ve hit an incredible level which involves jumping back and forth through time, honestly it is stunning (in the same game as the Clockwork Mansion no less!).
Dishonored 2 has got loads going for it, it’s an improvement in pretty much every way, but I still long for something else, something that makes me want to carry on. Playing it now to finish it is all well and good, but it just feels hollow and I have no idea why.
In many ways it’s a goddamn masterpiece, a true spectacle of game design, and it’s continuing one of my favourite games from the previous generation of consoles. Why won’t it gel with me?
This is really bugging me, there’s nothing to not like, but I’m not particularly enamoured by it. I see this excellent design and sometimes I get drawn-in, but it’s always fleeting.
I wonder if it’s because I know I’ll need to go back through it all again with Emily to really see what’s new? The joy of this game is in discovering everything for the first time, so I’m not sure how much there’s going to be in a second playthrough.
One thing I do know though, is that I’ll be going through it with a focus on high-chaos, changing the pace for me considerably.
Corvo is my stealth-and-stun run, Emily will be the reckoning!
Let’s see if it grows on me, or if I can work out what it is that I don’t quite grasp…..