Press Start

Video game news, reviews and commentary with Gazette reporter Jake Magee.

Press Start: 'Dishonored 2' rewards creative play

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Jake Magee
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

“Dishonored 2” is built to be as rewarding and engaging as possible no matter how you choose to play.

Whether you decide to use your variety of powers to violently destroy your foes or silently sneak through huge levels without so much as killing or even being spotted by a single enemy, “Dishonored 2” is a worthwhile experience with tons of replay value.

That value is apparent within the game's first few minutes when you're presented the choice to either play as Empress Emily Kaldwin or her father and player character from the first game, Corvo Attano.

As far as the story is concerned, I much preferred playing as Emily.

The narrative centers around Emily's aunt Delilah staging a coup to overthrow Emily's right to the throne, so the story is personal to Emily as she tries to discover the truth about her lineage and her late mother, Jessamine, the previous empress.

On top of that, the voice acting for Emily is far better than Corvo's.

Still, I'm glad the developers included two playable characters. Not only does it make the game more interesting from a narrative perspective, but Emily and Corvo have vastly different powers that completely change how you play the game.

Corvo's blink ability, for instance, allows him to freeze time and teleport short distances, making it crucial for stealthy playthroughs.

Emily's unique domino power, however, leaves a lot of room for fun experimentation. The ability allows her to link the fates of up to four characters. Whatever happens to one person happens to the others, which leads to endless hijinks. It's hilarious to link a bad guy with a civilian he shoots or throws off a building, leading to a surprise suicide.

Just as vast as the powers and various ways to play the game are the locales. Each of the nine levels is an open playground you can beeline through in minutes or spend hours exploring. I enjoyed discovering new areas, overhearing dialog and reading dozens of books that taught me more about the world and finding runes and bone charms to upgrade my powers and passive abilities as much as I loved the combat.

Half the joy of “Dishonored 2” is figuring out the way you want to tackle any given objective. No matter what task you're given, you can count on there being at least half a dozen ways to complete it.

Need to get past an electric barrier known as a wall of light? Maybe there's a way around on the rooftops above. Perhaps you could use your powers to possess a rat and navigate a gutter around the wall, or you could find the power source and rewire it to allow you through or disable it altogether. “Dishonored 2” provides so many avenues for success, and it allows you to organically find which one you prefer on your own with minimal hand-holding.

Perhaps “Dishonored 2's” greatest strength is its world building. I've never explored a video game world quite as intriguing as Karnaca, the dystopian, steampunk, London-esque city in which “Dishonored 2” takes place.

Giant, lethal bloodflies nest in buildings that have been quarantined because of infestations. Gang members roam the streets and pretend to be distressed citizens to bait and mug would-be heroes. The plethora of handwritten notes spread far and wide tell stories of the dead or those who fled the city before things got ugly.

“Dishonored 2's” aesthetic is just as interesting. The art style is almost caricature-like, where people have giant hands and exaggerated features. Each detail in every building or on every street corner is painstakingly handcrafted. Even characters' awesome fashions, from their thick coats to their metal buckles, speak volumes about the fictional world in which “Dishonored 2” is set.


Regardless how you want to play, “Dishonored 2” rewards you with several different ways to tackle any given objective or group of adversaries. The two playable characters, alternate endings and huge levels give the game plenty of replay value and make experimentation a treat. With New Game+ and customizable difficulty settings on the way, players will have even more reason to play “Dishonored 2.”

Final score: 9/10

“Dishonored 2” was reviewed on the Xbox One with a physical copy provided by the publisher's PR agency, fortyseven communications.

Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing jmagee@gazettextra.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.

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