You had to know this was coming.
Dishonored 2 is the sequel to Dishonored 1, a game that I loved so much I entertained the idea of writing about it, at length, to explore all the nooks and crannies of a world and an experience that resonated with me, until I was struck with how pointless that task was. Dishonored 2 was so obviously a me thing that when it was announced, one of my friends told me, at the announcement, that he was going to buy it for me for that year’s Christmas, because we were both so sure I’d want it.
Good choice. Guess that dissolves the tension in the review, eh. Anyway, point is, I am not the kind of person who looks at Dishonored 2 with impartial eyes. I loved Dishonored and I loved its writing and I loved the experience of it. In fact, Dishonored was a game I finished almost to the extent I finished Hotline Miami. I returned to Dishonored to get the Ghost achievement, and then left the game when all I had left were fight and arena challenges.
Even as I write this I’m thinking about how I’d like to go back and play Dishonored more.
But I won’t.
Because I uninstalled Dishonored when I got Dishonored 2 and I keep going back to play that, instead.
Brass tacks; Dishonored 2 requires a beefy computer, a patient player, and if you make beelines from goal to goal, you’ll find the game reasonably quick. Speedrunners, for example, got the game down to an hour in the first week or so and now the run sits at around twenty minutes.
In a way, Dishonored 2 is a game with a form of paidic play to it; the game has set its boundaries, and you get to choose how you will play within those boundaries. This does mean, however, for people who want play to be really structured, with very specific reward structures, you will be unhappy with how Dishonored 2 plays. This also suggests that, say, if you’re a reviewer, who knows you’re touring into this game to talk about it for market, and if your job thrives on novelty, you’re going to find this game unsatisfying.
Dishonored 2 brings you a shortish game with a lot of options which are not heavily incentivised, without much to optimise, and few goals beyond what you set for yourself. Several of the levels break flow by introducing new mechanisms or impositions on your forward progress that aren’t quite in the same genre, and for all the combat is high-impact, the levels lovely and the enemies interesting, it’s still a game that’s a bit smaller than you’d normally expect of a game on its price range.
If you’re into game that let you explore, let you try again, if you’re into games where you reload, and reload, and reload, and try again and look at things differently, if you want to pull all the bodies of Church Inquisitors in a level into a pile then grenade them at once with no effect but to give you the story that you did, then Dishonored 2 is for you. If you want to restore the past or fuck with the future, if you want to make choices and see the game – without reward or judgement – let you commit to them –
Then Dishonored 2 is a game for you.
But what were you expecting? I’m a mark for this kind of game. I’m a mark for Dishonored games in particular. So instead of trying to convince you of that, I’m going to just list some things in this game that I fucking love:
- If you upgrade your strength, thrown objects can be made into lethal weapons, which include body parts
- If you put a stun mine on a bottle, you can throw that bottle to put the stun mine somewhere you can’t reach
- You can lean as a rat
- You can slingshot yourself off the underside of platforms with Emily’s blink
- It is entirely possible to reach Kirin Jindosh without him being aware you were ever in his house
- You can kill Kirin Jindosh while he’s pontificating at you behind complete safety
- Drop knockouts!!
- There are two endings to the time travel level I didn’t find until my fifth time through the game
- There are all these points where you’re shown random nobles being complete dicks which makes the idea of ‘innocent’ harm ambiguous
- The wooden gazelle head!
- Delilah’s final encounter being both a stealth and combat puzzle that’s genuinely fun and interesting to try and solve
- You can turn into a fish
- There’s a whole level that can be skipped by doing a really obtuse puzzle
- The near-speed-run ghost for the first level where you run and catch a train
- A salty note in the last level if you stole something in the first
You can get it on Steam.
Buy it if:
- You enjoyed Dishonored
- You like the look of the world
- You prefer to take your time in a game and experiment
Avoid it if:
- You prefer structured levels
- You want strong material rewards for your choices
- You’re not big on reloading or retrying with slow loading times