Game of the Year 2016 #3: Dishonored 2

As a sequel that had a lot to live up to, Dishonored 2 did its job and then some.


John Keefer: Ever since Dishonored 2 was announced, I was looking forward to the game. The original was a masterwork not only in open world, play your own way gameplay, but also in weaving a story that made you care about the characters and motivations.

Dishonored 2 did not disappoint on either front this time around as well. Yes, it was more of the same, but so well done that it was again one of the best games of 2016.

Josh Hawkins: I think you really hit the nail on the head there, John. Dishonored 2 is such a great game because Arkane didn't try to be innovative. They didn't try to fix the way that their game worked, because it wasn't broken at all. The gameplay mechanics, the powers, the use of low and high chaos-- it is all part of what makes the series so good, and I think that they captured the essence of that perfectly. I won't lie and say Dishonored 2's story was as good as the first, because it just wasn't. But, it wasn't bad either. It was a nice happy medium between 'oh that's nice' and 'eh, saw that coming a mile away'.

John: What didn't you like about the story? Granted, it was a bit more on rails this time and I knew who my ultimate showdown would be against, but I still found it entertaining.

If I had one quibble with the game is that it seemed like bone charms and runes were a lot harder to get to. Yes, there were some in the open with easy access, but I didn't get anywhere near as many powers as I could have because I was taking forever just to try to access an extra one or two per level.

Oh, and before I forget. The Clockwork Mansion and Stilton's Manor were diabolically complex. I made it through, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have to backtrack numerous times to find just the right combinations of levers and/or tricks to make it through.

Josh: I loved the Clockwork Mansion, and was absolutely blown away by the mechanics used in Stilton's Manor. 

I think for me, the story just felt like the first story, with the twists simply moved around in the timeline. That's not to say it was bad. But, you can only tell a revenge tale so many ways before it starts to feel bloated and uninteresting. The use of Emily's character to replace Corvo was definitely a nice move, and while I played through the game the first time with Corvo (gotta back up my boy), I definitely see what they were going for with this one.

They really did seem to want to throw Bone Charms and Runes down your throat. Moreso than the first game did. Working as the main collectibles in the game, and the main source of your character's upgrades, it felt a bit stingy, like they wanted to prolong your experience by forcing you to explore more. Nothing wrong with exploring, but sometimes I felt like I had to take an extra 40 minutes just to grab a new Rune so I could grab another powerup.

Cassidee Moser: Like Emily Kaldwin herself, Dishonored 2 is a more grown-up and refined version of the original Dishonored. It's sleeker, prettier, more robust, and has apparent love poured even in the smallest details.

One thing that stands out the most to me is the differences between both Emily and Corvo. They have powers that are similar--their teleporting ability, for one--but both still feel distinct and unique. Emily's abilities are more refined and manipulative, while Corvo retains his typical aggressive arsenal of abilities. 

It also shows us a different side to the world: Karnaca, a city with its own infestation of Blood Flies and corruption. Exploring the city of Karnaca was a lot of fun, and I loved being able to explore and learn about more of that world. 

John: Did you guys play through on high chaos or low chaos? As Emily, I tried to put myself in her shoes. I was upset at being betrayed - that my people were betrayed - and coupled with the uncertainty of Delilah's claims, I just eliminated any pawn of theirs that got in my way. And then I wouldn't kill my ultimate target for each mission. I just humiliated them

Man, I love play your own way. 

Josh: I played a mixture of both High and Low Chaos. It really depended on the level. I always try to go in as stealthy as possible, but when the shit hits the fan.... Corvo's bloodlust comes a calling.

I think the play your own way thing is definitely part of what makes the Dishonored series so special. A lot of games really task you with choosing one side or the other, but Dishonored 2 will let you do it all, no matter what. Just murdered 14 guards, but want to stealth the next section? Go for it. It's a great system that really helps the game stand out from the other stealth-based games out there at the moment.

Cassidee: I play straight High Chaos. I get in, and I run around murdering everyone like a ninja.

I do this for a few reasons. One, it feels so cathartic to sneak up behind a guy and jam a sword in his neck, two, a lot of Emily's powers are better suited for killing than knocking out, and three, I always felt like it was more fitting for Emily to want to kill everyone in her way. 
It's also insanely fun to kill a guy, take his body, drop it down into the middle of a bunch of guards, and watch them freak out. 

Huh...I guess I really like dissent.

John: Well, obviously we all liked the game, and it definitely was worthy of Game of the Year honors, Even the PC glitches that plagued the game early on didn't detract from my enjoyment of it. The new update is also out, adding the Game-Plus mode and even more replayability. I really think Arkane hit all the right notes with a sequel that could have easily been a clunker in the hands of a less proficient developer.

2016 Game of the Year Countdown: 

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

From The Chatty
  • reply
    December 29, 2016 10:00 AM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Game of the Year 2016 #3: Dishonored 2

    • reply
      December 29, 2016 10:26 AM

      This game rocked. Had lots of fun playing and it had some truly excellent level design. I went through as Emily on low chaos the first time. Now I need to go through as Corvo in murder-anything-that-moves mode.

    • reply
      December 29, 2016 10:27 AM

      Haven't had a chance to play it yet but loved the first one. I am excite.

    • reply
      December 29, 2016 10:57 AM

      Playing through right now, and your various observations all jive with mine. This is a great pick for #3, and now I know exactly what we're going to get for #2 Overwatch and #1 DOOM... Asif's will be done!

    • reply
      December 29, 2016 11:52 AM

      I liked Dishonored 2 quite a bit. I felt like the story lost a step off the original, but the gameplay is largely the same and that's a good thing I think.

      The villains in 2 were a lot less despicable, both in motivation (Hypatia in particular, who wasn't even technically a bad guy) and visually. The first game's villains were remarkably well designed, and visually portrayed the kind of aristocratic repulsiveness they needed to make their elimination feel immensely satisfying to the player.

      The sequel went for more shades of gray and it made a game about revenge feel a lot less satisfying to me. Gray characters usually make for better fiction, but in this series I really enjoy black-as-pitch black-hat villains. Only Kirin Jindosh felt really satisfying to end, and only his non-lethal option seemed particularly inspired (as they pretty much ALL did in the original).

    • reply
      December 29, 2016 11:57 AM

      "I loved the Clockwork Mansion, and was absolutely blown away by the mechanics used in Stilton's Manor" pretty much this! amaze-balls.

    • reply
      December 29, 2016 11:58 AM

      Should have been #1!

    • reply
      December 29, 2016 12:05 PM

      Good stuff, glad to see it highly ranked. I haven't played it yet, but it has gotten a lot of good press.

    • reply
      December 29, 2016 12:21 PM

      Should be #1!!!

      • reply
        December 29, 2016 1:00 PM

        Yes, on so many levels, yes

      • reply
        December 29, 2016 4:48 PM

        I'm comfortable with top 5 - there were a ton of good games this years and there's solid arguments for a lot of them.

        I love Dishonored 2 and it's totally my type of game...but if I'm being honest I got more sheer joy out of Doom while it lasted.

Hello, Meet Lola