Finishing Dishonored 2

When I started getting back into Dishonored 2, I’d say that I was simply going through the motions, and doing what I needed to get it done.

The whole game is objectively excellent, and it does nothing to reduce the quality, throughout.  Honestly it’s superb.  The problem was that I just couldn’t find myself in the right headspace to enjoy the skulking around and working on that low-chaos (mostly non-lethal) playthrough.

Until the bitter end

I stuck with it, as I’d promised myself I would.  I mean, there’s nothing here for me to not love, it’s a sequel to one of my favourite games from the last generation, it’s a refined and improved version of that.  Why would I not love it?

To be honest, I had a good time, the remaining levels were excellent, with objectives and hidden opportunities at every turn.  Between that and my ever-expanding set of abilities, I was king of the world.

Playing Corvo, the lord-protector and protagonist of the first game, I was delighted to be using the abilities I was already familiar with, and stalking around places. doing what I love.

Interestingly though, it wasn’t until I finished the main story and started a New Game + (where you keep a lot of your runes and unlocks from your initial playthrough) as Emily, that my love for the series came flooding back.

Emily has several more abilities, and most of these are new.  Having made the decision to play as an assassin and killing instead of subduing, I had to approach everything differently.

Thanks to abilities like Domino (you essentially link up enemies, and then whatever happens to one of them, happens to them all, such as death….) I was making my way through areas with ease.  I’ve got the passive ability where all kills result in a body turning to ash, so there’s no evidence to be stumbled upon.  It meant I could go on a spree!

With Emily I approached the game in a way that goes against my standard playstyle, but it actually did wonders for me.  It was liberating, and honestly, each kill was payback for Corvo’s struggles in my initial run.

Suddenly, I remember exactly why I love the series, and man, is this game the next level!

How does it feel?

Dishonored has a very unique style, something that at times really enhances the darkness of the world under Delilah’s reign, other times in the right light, it’s a lovely sunny world.

The fact that the stark differences are displayed at all times is great.  You really “feel” a part of the universe.  Death is no stranger, but nor is comedy.  Listen to the guards sing and talk.

Speaking of listening……the audio is bloody wonderful.  The music is perfect.  I honestly don’t know how else this game could sound.  Haunting, brooding and sometimes uplifting.  Outstanding.

The voices and the dark haunting echoes of the void just fit.  Everything here is a work of pure craftsmanship and no doubt, a labour of love.

So it looks excellent and unique, it sounds perfect and it crafts a world that you just get completely enveloped within.  How many game scan you say that about in recent years?

Story

This is yet another strength, and the backbone for some of these incredible levels. 

Between slipping in and out of the past and present at a whim (effortless, and when you see you impact from the past in the present/future, it’s a little mindblowing!), skulking around towns and of course the Clockwork Mansion.  You’re never stuck wondering “why am I actually doing this?”.

Following on from the Dishonored, Emily has grown up and she is the Empress.  As always, other people have designs for the throne………enter Delilah an immortal half-sister to Emily’s mum.

She enters the fray, and takes the throne.  In doing so, you’re set to choose which protagonist you want to play as.  Emily or Corvo.  The other gets turned to stone and you have to leave them at the beginning of the game.

From here on out you’re constantly working out who’s responsible, how to take back the throne and how to save your daughter or father (depending on who you chose to play as).

You visit the familiar Dunwall (I loved the nostalgia of coming back here!) and you visit Karnaca.  Faced with multiple paths and options for every level, the world truly is your oyster, and you always feel like you’ve had an impact on a broader scale than just the mission you’re undertaking.

If you choose to find a merciful means to subduing your target, you that’s absolutely fine.  See what difference it makes to the world when you make these decisions, it’s brilliant. 

Replay value

I struggle enough to find the time to finish a game, let alone play it again.  Dishonored 2 practically begs to be played at least twice, though.  

Open-ended levels with multiple approaches and endings, two protagonists with different skills and different relationships with people in the world.  Playing again is an absolute must.

I genuinely can’t think of a time where I played through a game straight after finishing it (since the N64 at least).  I have reviews to write, and blog pieces to come up with, but to hell with that, this is more fun!

Overall…..

I was a bit down on Dishonored 2 when I got back into it, and for some reason I did a few levels and then left it for over a year…….so I’m a little disappointed in myself for denying the joy for so long.

This game is without a doubt a classic, a product of craftsmanship and I feel like it was lovingly put together by people who really wanted to make something great.  Guess what? They did!

Play it how you want, but don’t stick yourself in a rut like I did.  Mix those approaches, see how you can best use your abilities to have some fun.  I love non-lethal & stealth, but you’re doing the whole game a disservice if you don’t mix it up a little.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this game deserves our highest rating.  Ninja Refinery deems Dishonored 2 as exceptional.  Everyone should go out and play it.  If you love chaos, if you love stealth, if you love controlling the minds of rats and fish, there’s something here for everyone.

I wish I’d stuck with Dishonored 2 from the get go.  Let this be a lesson that the pile of shame is aptly named.  Reducing such excellent games to just a pile on a shelf is shameful indeed.

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