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Discussion The Patient Gamer - Dishonored 2 - A Sneaky Murder Simulator

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
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Arkane Studios are a group that really shouldn't exist in today's gaming environment. They seem stubbornly, deliberately devoted to going against the grain of modern AAA gaming trends: Complex "hand crafted" level design, strong single player narrative experiences, player choice that has deep and far reaching consequences to the gameworld. The short of it is that their games do not feel like they're designed by committee to maximize ROI or treat their player base as a resource to exploit, it feels like the games are made by people that really love the old System Shock/Thief games and are going to put as many of those games out on the market as they possibly can before they go out of business.

If you're not familiar with the series, the Dishonored games take place in a sort of weird alternate universe industrial revolution England/Europe circa mid-1800's that have, through the blood of magical whales (yes, you read that right), have undergone a sort of technological revolution where the old and the new meet. Its not a hugely unique idea, but the world and setting are presented incredibly well.

The first game has you playing as Corvo Attano, the royal bodyguard to the Empress who is accused of her murder as part of a coup from a number of conspirators in her cabinet, while the second game has you playing as either the Empress' daughter Emily Kaldwin or as Corvo who... are deposed as part of a coup and have to retake the throne. Both campaigns follow the exact same levels, but the narrative will differ based on the character (Emily being the coddled Empress exposed to the seedy underbelly of her own empire, and Corvo an aged man returning back to the life he once escaped).

As part of the journey you come upon something known as The Outsider's Mark, which gives your character access to a host of either magical powers or supernatural physical abilities, and this is really where the meat and potatoes of the gameplay is built from. If you've played the first Dishonored, Corvo's abilities will be like putting on a worn and well fitting shoe, all the old favorites are back. If you choose to play Emily's campaign, you get a host of new powers that give you new and interesting ways to either sneak past or brutally murder all that oppose you. Both Emily and Corvo are rather fragile through the entire run of the campaign, so proper use of your abilities and environment are absolutely key to the gameplay.

For example, Emily can use the Doppelganger power to create a copy of herself, then use the Domino power to link her Doppelganger to three (unwitting) enemies. The Doppelganger can then go and engage those enemies, or Emily can attack and kill the image of herself, or she can take a non-lethal approach and choke out or sleep dart her image, and whatever happens to the image then happens to the linked enemies through the Domino power. There are any number of interesting power permutations to use against enemies, and while its perfectly possible to chop-suey your way through hoards of enemies with a sword in one hand and a gun in the other, there is a sort of deep satisfaction in pulling off a particularly clever silent takedown using a combination of your abilities and powers.

The game consists of 8 levels, with each level being broken down to 2-3 sub-segments. Each level will likely take up to two hours to fully complete if you're looking for all of the runes (upgrade points for powers and abilities) or bone charms (trinkets that provide small ancillary upgrades like holding breath longer underwater, causing teleporting enemies to stumble if they port near you, finding additional ammo in pick-ups, causing enemy grenades to take longer to cook off, etc). The levels are all generally well crafted and provide numerous routes to your objective with different challenges to cater to your playstyle, level of lethality, whether you want to use stealth or assault the enemy, etc.

I want to specifically call out two levels, anyone who is familiar with this game will know what they are, that represent a god damn masterclass of level design that are beyond the expectations anyone can reasonably have for level design in gaming. The levels are like works of art, its absolutely god damn incredible the amount of thought and detail that went into these and they're the kinds of things you would *never* see from literally any other "AAA" game developer out there is really something. Open world tower climbing garbage level design, this certainly is not.

This is getting quite wordy, so I'll try and wrap it up. The game's most glaring flaw, in my opinion, is the one that plagues all games of this type: the inverted difficulty curve and the penchant to turn off gamers early. The character progression in these types of games means that the first level or two before a player has access to more cool abilities, or even fully knows what they're doing, that open up additional options tend to be the most difficult levels in the game and also the most boring levels in the game. I'd just say stick with the game longer than you might want to until you have a couple powers under your belt. While the first level was a bit frustrating, I was basically death incarnate by the time I was on the tail end of the game.

Additionally, the game is really designed to be played through multiple times, with a stacking NG+ mode that makes the abilities of both characters available on your second playthrough. The nature of the game also requires some advanced knowledge of levels to accomplish some of the more impressive stealth feats, so I would recommend doing a high chaos murderfest playthrough the first time around (which comes with its own ending), then go back through and play a more pacifist run a second/third/+ time when you sort of know what you're going to encounter.

Graphics are superb, the game ran quite well on my aging signature rig at 1440P, sticking pretty close to 60FPS at all times. The entire dishonored series regularly goes on sale for peanuts, you will be entertained for your money. If you have gamepass, please download and try this game.

It will feel like a huge breath of fresh air, an actual game surrounded by on-rails movie wannabes.
 
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CP5670

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Jun 24, 2004
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One of my favorite games of the last few years. The level design is spectacular, and I still like to load up the game every now and then and just explore the maps. As you said, all the Arkane games are a breath of fresh air in today's gaming landscape.

I didn't actually find it that hard, especially compared to the old Thief games or Prey, and it gives you many different ways to approach situations. One problem though is it gives you lots of cool lethal weapons and powers but disincentivizes you from using them too much if you want to get the good ending.
 
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GodisanAtheist

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Nov 16, 2006
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The game on normal difficulty certainly isn't hard to just play through, but to try and actively play through as an actual stealth game or to go for something like the Flesh and Steel (no powers) or Clean Hands (no kills) or Ghost (never spotted) playthroughs are definitely a challenge.

With regard to the endings, I didn't really feel any of the endings are particularly *bad* and there is some amount of RP in how you approach things (A pissed off Emily or a remorseful merciful Corvo).

It's part of the reason I feel the game is best experiences as a high chaos first run, then once you have a feel for the game, a low chaos stealthy second run.
 

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