Dishonored 2 is the sequel to Arkane Studios´ stealth action adventure title from 2012, in which you played the Royal Protector Corvo who uncovers the plot behind the assassination of the empress. This installment plays out some years after that. Emily, the daughter of the empress, is the empress now. After being overthrown you choose between Corvo and Emily to flee Dunwall and uncover the truth behind your attackers.
Dishonored 2 can be played in a number of different ways. You can be a killer and fight guards in the open or a sneaky assassin using their magical abilities to remain undetected. You have a quest marker but nevertheless the game is very exploration focused. The player can find a lot of runes (to upgrade or get new abilities) and bone charms (equipable items that give you certain random perks) throughout the levels. By exploring the levels you might even find a short cut or a side quest.
Choosing between Corvo and Emily gives you a slightly different set of abilities and a slightly different story. It doesn´t really matter who you choose (but you can´t switch the character after you selected one). Emily is great for those who want to try out new abilities different from the first installment and Corvo is the best choice if you liked his abilities more.
Another important choice is between a lethal or non-lethal approach. As Dishonored 2 is a stealth game the non-lethal approach is the fundamentaly better one. When you choose a lethal approach the game becomes a lot shorter because finding your assassination targets happens very quickly. It also changes the story ending for the worse. To eliminate them non-lethaly you need to find something to render them harmless. One enemy can be robbed of his magical abilities by executing a ritual for example, another one can be impersonated by a body double and brought to prison. These possiblities make the game a lot more fun and you lose a lot if you decide to simply kill them. It also makes the way to the targets a lot less interesting if you simply slaughter all the guards along it.
What makes Dishonored stand out amongst other stealth games are the magical abilities. Especially Blink, the teleport ability. The game plays a lot differently because warp around the level and find hidden places which would be unreachable in any other way. What is also very interesting for stealth-purists: You can choose to play the game without ever acquiring those magical abilities. Your non-magical arsenal is also very diverse. You have a loud pistol, a stealthy crossbow with different bolts, varying in deadliness; grenades and a number of mines.
The game´s story mostly plays in Corvo´s hometown Karnaca. For those familiar with the first Dishonored: Bloodflies, big poisonous insects with large nests, are the new rats. They invested a lot of areas in the city. The story of Karnaca is mostly told through environmental storytelling and through the many books, scattered throughout the levels. Audiologs are also used sporadically. Like in the first Dishonored you visit a hub level between your missions. This time the hub level is a lot smaller. A small ship serves as the hub world.
Overall the story of the game isn´t uninteresting but lacks any major twists or a lot of suspense. The backstory of the villains is well made, as it is not completely one dimensional but in most cases it comes to: “Character suffered his/her whole life, worked very hard and became successful, is evil now because of the pain”. The game´s length is pretty descent compared to other AAA games nowadays (~10 hours) but because of how the game is structured and how the story was told it felt way too short.
Now let´s discuss the technical side of Dishonored 2. Maybe you already heard that the game suffers a lot of performance problems on PC. We tried a setup that was just above the minimum specs and it run pretty badly. All graphical options were set to the lowest and it still wouldn´t run at 30 FPS consistently. This is really sad as the game is really beautiful. It is not photo realistic by any means but it never tries to be. The characters look amazing. They look very differently and their faces are a lot more expressive than almost all other characters in AAA games. The environments are very beautiful. The lighting is on point and creates a great atmosphere.
Dishonored 2 is a great game. People who love stealth games will be very happy with this title and also newcomers will be pleased because the game is very forgiving when it comes to playstyles. An enjoyable story and a wonderful art direction and some good amount of replayability make this game a very good choice.