James Law tells us of his top indie picks from Insomnia 2018Written by James Law on 13th April 2018
An Ode To Dishonored 2
James Marvin openly gushes about his personal Game of the Year, Dishonored 2
I’m sure many people left 2016 with some regrets. Going to Fab the night before an essay is due and getting a 2.2, spending all of your loan in the first two weeks on Frosty Jacks or merely realising you really couldn’t afford that bottle of Grey Goose. However, for me my biggest regret was never getting around to properly reviewing Dishonored 2. In my defense, it was because third year at university is an unkind beast, and essay deadlines and dissertation drafts came to a head right around the time the game came out. This, though, is my time for redemption in the most biased and subjective way possible because to put it bluntly: I bloody love this game.
Dishonored 2, the sequel to one of the best stealth games in recent memory, is now the best stealth game in recent memory. To anyone that has played the game I only have to mention the words ‘Clockwork Mansion’ and you’ll understand that this game simply has some of the most original and unique level designs I’ve seen in this genre. Ranging from the murky and grey streets of Dunwall, the setting of the original game, to the similar scummy, yet slightly sepia toned, rundown slums of Karnaca to then the mansions and villas of the region’s villains; Dishonored 2 is a staggeringly beautiful and intricately designed game that you can just tell the people behind it at Arkane poured their souls into it. I think I spent a vast majority of my playtime over the Christmas break just staring at the far off scenery than forcing my target to stare down the barrel of my pistol.
It’s not just the look of the game though that astounds you, the story and characters are equally great. Whilst simple in its narrative, essentially boiling down to a revenge and rescue mission against a usurper of the throne, there’s nothing wrong with retreading familiar ground if you pull it off well which is exactly the case here. Not only that, but both performances of Corvo Attano and Emily Kaldwin, voiced by Stephen Russell and Erica Luttrell respectively, were fantastic in their own ways. Russell breathing life into an otherwise boring character from the original game that we only recognised from his unique mask and Luttrell making Emily a conflicted heroine that you can’t help but root for in her quest.
By this point I’ve already provided more than enough reasons why Dishonored 2 is my personal Game of The Year and one of the best stealth games potentially ever, and I’ve not even touched on the actual gameplay, which you may have assumed, is also brilliant. Both protagonists that you pick from at the start of the game come with their own unique power set, which I described in my EGX preview as a difference between fast-paced slaughter and slow-paced patient, classic stealth and that, for the most part, rings true in the final game. Corvo’s powers do tend to have you fully assess the area ahead of you for the best possible path but do provide some power to fight back if you put a foot wrong.
Emily on the other hand tends to focus on distracting the enemies to make the best possible path to your objective and similarly her more lethal powers provide similar backup yet these powers also can provide you a quick and lethal highway to where you need to go. The best part about it though is that no matter how you want to play the game, either full non-lethal ghost or mass murderer, both characters can do either just in slightly different ways through the combination of their powers. This in turn means there are endless ways that you can approach a mission in Dishonored 2 and there are many that I am still yet to try for sure. That is the true mark of a great stealth game, similar to that of my favourite from last year, Metal Gear Solid V; give me an array of tools and abilities and let me adapt them to the environment and see what I can do. Few games I feel have actually achieved the amount of praise from me that this one has.
I remember there was a time where I had literally no interest in this game before it launched and I'm so glad that I changed that mindset a couple or weeks or so before launch. If you are yet to have played Dishonored 2, whilst I do recommend you play the first if you haven’t before this, you definitely need to pick it up in the near future. An absolute gem from last year that did suffer slightly in terms of sales in comparison to the first and that is a massive shame. We need more games like Dishonored 2 out there (such as a Dishonored 3), so I cannot urge you enough to go out and give this one a go, as I am sure that you will not regret it.