A few years ago, the first Dishonored came out during a brief period where old-school game design was all the rage for a new generation of people who had not experienced the hard difficulty, multiple paths towards completing an objective and kill free game-play that made the Thief series so special once upon a time. Traipsing through the City of Dunwall as Corvo the Royal Protector, I saved the Princess, stopped the bad guys and brought peace to the land.
Though the story was meh and forgettable, the game sold well enough that a sequel went into production. Released earlier this month, the fifteen years later second installment allows you to play as either Corvo or Empress Emily as you again attempt to stop a coup in Dunwall Tower.
Again, game-play is the strength of this series. Multiple playable characters with different powers, missions that task you with finding the proper target instead of his body double and wandering through a home that shifts like the dwelling in Thirteen Ghosts are a welcome change to the formula, but they aren’t present enough and are masking a dull and sometimes familiar narrative.
Did we really need another attempt to take the throne that ends up causing the player character to go underground in an attempt to clear their name? Maybe I am a tad cynical in my old age, but I expected more from Arkane Studios second franchise outing. You’re not making a Marvel film here guys. You can take things in a radically different direction and not lose a lot of supporters. Ending the tale you decided to share with players at Dunwall Tower again is really a bit lazy.
If this franchise goes forward, I urge the developers to do something different with the next installment. Instead of again having to take down someone who wants to seize political power, why not have the campaign focus on a fight with the Outsider? The mysterious supernatural character is described as a mix between God and Satan and would be a welcome change. But hey, that’s just my opinion. Odds are I’m wrong and don’t really understand the business at all.
The Good: Game-play once again stands out at the best thing in this series. Changes to the traditional formula are fun and interesting, but they happen far too rarely in the campaign.
The Bad: The narrative here is lazy. The fact that the game again tells the story of an attempt to take the throne and again begins and ends at Dunwall Tower is Marvel level repetitive. Ugh.
The Verdict: If you like games that are fun to play, but have meh narrative, this is one for you. The challenge of getting through it without killing anyone or being seen will keep you busy.