Review

Dishonored 2 Review

  • First Released Nov 10, 2016
    released
  • PS4

Bloody, brilliant.

Any time I'm given a choice between stealth and action, I go stealth. I love the hold-your-breath tension of hoping a guard didn't spot you and the hard-earned triumph of executing a perfectly timed plan. Dishonored 2 delivers that sneaky satisfaction, arming you with stealth essentials like hiding bodies, peering through keyholes, and silent takedowns. But it's also an incredible engine for gleeful chaos, one so engrossing and amusing that I kind of accidentally beat the entire campaign raining hilarious, elaborate death on my enemies.

I kicked people through skylights, blasted them off seaside cliffs, lured them into bottlenecks and watched as my carefully placed shrapnel mine shredded them. At one point, I got murdered badly, so I reloaded a recent quicksave, shot a guard with incendiary bolt, and blew up another four with one grenade when they ran to help. Sadistic? Yes. But also incredibly satisfying from a gameplay standpoint. Moments like that happen frequently in Dishonored 2 because it's as much a toy box as it is a game. It's meant to be experimented with. It rewards and even demands creativity.

No Caption Provided

This was true of the first game, and it's true here as well, mainly because the sequel simply takes the original formula and builds on it. You'll find more ways to engage enemies without killing them, like nonlethal drop attacks and parries that stun opponents momentarily, allowing you to grab them and choke them out. There are new weapons and gadgets, including crossbow bolts that blind enemies or send them sprinting in a chemical-induced madness. Weapons can be upgraded in new ways, so your starter pistol can eventually be modded into a semi-auto hand cannon with explosive, ricocheting rounds.

And most importantly, there's an entirely new protagonist with her own set of powers. You can still play as classic hero Corvo and enjoy all his original supernatural abilities like pausing time and possessing rodents, but Empress Emily Kaldwin offers some exciting new choices, most notably Domino: All marked targets suffer the same fate, so knocking one unconscious puts them all out, for example. Emily can also hypnotize enemies with Mesmerize and become a moving shadow with Shadow Walk. She can even mimic Corvo's signature teleportation ability with Far Reach. Much like the weaponry, the diverse and inventive mechanics inherent in these powers turn the gameplay in a joyful cycle of experimentation and reward. Nearly all can be used in a variety of ways--lethal and nonlethal, straightforward and unconventional--to accommodate whatever strategy you happen to hatch.

Part of what makes the experimentation fun is the fact that your enemies are genuinely threatening, which makes cleverly dispatching them feel that much more empowering. They parry, dodge, flank, kick you away, even throw rocks to keep you off balance, and they never relent. Rather than telegraphing their attacks or waiting patiently for you to strike them, they just come at you, which both gets your adrenaline pumping and makes your one-hit-kill counterattacks feel earned. Even if you ignore your supernatural assassin skills and focus purely on swordplay, Dishonored gives you plenty of options, including sprinting slide tackles and combo-driven executions.

And if you're a stealth player, enemies are aware enough to present a real challenge, frequently breaking from the "preset pattern" behavior observable in many stealth games. Tricks that might not draw attention in other games get noticed here. Guards remember, for example, that another guard was standing nearby a moment ago. Rather than shrug off the absence, they'll either investigate or jump straight to sounding the alarm. This definitely creates a bit of a learning curve; you can't sloppily run and fight everyone and expect to get far. I had to play for a few hours before I really started to understand and enjoy the game--though the payoff for that upfront investment proved substantial.

The experience may be demanding overall, but weirdly, the campaign doesn't really grow more challenging as you progress. You'd think you'd face new, more intricate scenarios or larger numbers of tougher enemies, but that's not really the case. Unexpected new enemies types do emerge, but feel underutilized, as they're limited to certain levels and areas. By the end, I actually felt overpowered because the game never demanded more of me. Messing around with the mechanics is a lot more fun if you're presented with varied scenarios that force you to be skilled, clever, or creative enough to succeed. Removing the challenge undercuts some of the fun. Dishonored does such a stellar job of consistently adding new gameplay elements, it's a shame that never culminated in a grand, all-encompassing challenge.

Much like the weaponry, the diverse and inventive mechanics inherent in these powers turn the gameplay in a joyful cycle of experimentation and reward.

The story also doesn't evolve much over the course of the campaign. The original game opened with a bloody power grab that sent you on a quest for vengeance; the plot here is essentially identical, just with most cryptic occult gibberish. You're primarily still tracking down and murdering a series of people, and your motivation for the entire ordeal hinges on a single rushed scene at the very beginning of the game. Ultimately, the plotline is fine, but the delivery proves lackluster. Contrary to the gameplay, the storytelling holds your hand, bombarding you with heavy-handed exposition. You character constantly states the obvious in game, then narrates their exact thoughts and feelings over motion comics between missions. I frequently felt like I was just being told stuff rather than living and participating in an active story.

Still, Dishonored's world is undeniably intriguing thanks mainly to its vaguely steampunk aesthetic and the tangible history hidden in every detail. The characters you encounter are, by and large, interesting and well developed, and the expansive areas you visit feel alive and burst with unique details. Areas are larger than those found in the previous and seem much bigger than they really are--a welcome illusion that makes the world feel more believable. There's also plenty of side content to uncover in the hub areas, from unearthing backstory to finding the one ultra clever way to break into a fortified black market shop. And of course, you'll constantly be hunting for hidden runes, a process that takes up just as much (if not more) time as the core gameplay. Some are obvious, some are cleverly hidden, some are excruciatingly frustrating, but you're forced to find them because they fuel the progression system.

Most impressively, individual missions frequently distinguish themselves by offering a unique gameplay hook. There's a mission late in the game that involves time manipulation and might be one of the most unforgettable standalone missions in any game ever. It is masterpiece unto itself. There's also the intricate, mind-bending clockwork mansion, which turns the entire level into a giant Rubik's cube. And just like before, you can find elaborate, story-driven ways to "eliminate" every major target without actually killing them.

If you use your powers creatively and judiciously, you can be in complete control. It feels exceptionally empowering, especially since when you mess up, you realize your enemies really are smart and powerful enough to kill you quickly. Dishonored 2 might lack challenge in its later levels, but the basic tools are a joy to play with regardless. And with two characters and two basic play styles to choose from--both of which noticeably impact the story and the world as you go--there's a lot of longevity to be wrung from the campaign. It's an incredible shame you can't restart the campaign with all your powers intact once you beat the game, but you can, at least, bring up old saves, adjust the difficulty, and see what unfolds.

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The Good

  • Remarkable mix of inventive weapons and powers that can be utilized in a variety of ways
  • Several standout missions that offer truly memorable gameplay hooks
  • Larger world feels rich, detailed, and believable
  • Rich and rewarding well of side content

The Bad

  • Later levels lack challenge, leaving you feeling overpowered and under-stimulated
  • Predictable plot and exposition-heavy narrative devices make for a lackluster story experience
  • Certain hidden runes will drive you to the brink of madness

About the Author

Scott initially completed the campaign as Corvo--mixing stealth and action as necessary--then started a pure stealth run with new protagonist Emily. He also collected every single rune and explored most of the side content. Publisher Bethesda provided a copy of the game for this review.
320 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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SilentAssassin

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I just don't understand why they give you so many cool weapons and gadgets just to say basically, DONT USE THEM BECAUSE IF YOU DONT USE STEALTH YOU'LL GET A BAD ENDING.

2 • 
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Karterii93

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I'm eager to pick this game up after reading this review. However, I am disappointed that you made no mention of version differences! I have the Xbox One and Playstation 4, as well as a PC (though I prefer playing on console for achievements) and I find it sad that GameSpot rarely mentions version differences in their modern reviews. Please give us that info, I'd like to play the best console version or stick to the PC if all else fails.

Thanks for the review Scott :)

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RomeoTheBeast

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Edited By RomeoTheBeast

@karterii93: I agree!! then again some games might not have any noticeable differences

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Yoshikawa12

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For the game that offered multiple outcome, the lack of NG+ is really sucks, but again I really like the first game so I'll definitely will purchase this game and adding to my backlog, hoping that someday I will have the time to actually play it. lol

Thanks for the review.

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thequickshooter

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lol an 8

this game is a bloody nine at the very least, compering this with the rest of the AAA trash is just insulting

esp when the PC version got it's patch to fix all the issues

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TxuZai

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So, no mark downs for the shitty frames/performance.

Joke of a review as usual.

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Achaya

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@txuzai: Sometimes I have feeling they are being paid for those reviews... I heard really mixed comments about gameplay and story in this game. I was waiting for it for long time, now I'm hesitating to buy it.

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cooolio

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@achaya: The funny thing is that the issues with the story are actually mentioned in the game, as well as criticism of the game not offering any scenarios to challenge you later in the game when you've become a lot more powerful.

If you liked the first one, then i don't see why you wouldn't like this one. Also, i would hardly call this score being paid for

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Achaya

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@cooolio: I had mixed feeling with first one also, my problem is I love this type of games...and Thief is long gone for me ( latest one was a disaster for me, didn't even finished it - especially after 1st Aprils"bug" ), so I will be nagging and still playing it. It is just like when you love someone even if you know, this person is not good for you :P

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FartyPants

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Edited By FartyPants

Here is what I feel about the story of dishonored 2 (I do like the gameplay though):

You already know most of the story before you start playing - you know WHAT happened, you saw it in first scene. You know WHO had done it. You also know WHY because you are told that pretty much from the beginning. So everything essential in the story is revealed before hand. What is left for you to discover is "HOW it happened". Now that is a very weak narrative, because it require the rest of the story to be extremely shocking and that simply is not the case.

Now let's see, for example Bioshock 1, it was storytelling like from a season of Lost, you didn't know anything about the the place or the people, or the past you had to put it all together from the bits and pieces over the time. All the essentials like What Who, Why and How need to be discovered as you progress piece by piece. That what is a good story telling.

So yes, I feel dishonored 2 is a very weak and uninteresting narrative. Sadly, the story itself is not that bad, it needed just little mystery to make it much better. Why writers felt that Delilah has to spill all the beans on the beginning cut scene by explaining who she is and why she is doing it? It would be far more interesting and powerful to actually start with a blank Who/Why and discover out all that over the curse of the game. There is no mystery, all was taken by baby-like story telling, in a game that is PEGI 18 (!). I really don't know why writers do hand-holding like that, it is like they are writing for little kids who can't remember past few sentences.

4 • 
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StaticPenguin

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Edited By StaticPenguin

Later levels lack challenge? That's not what I've read from other reviews.

I'm in the mansion and it took away all my powers so I can time travel.

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FartyPants

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Edited By FartyPants

@StaticPenguin: That time travel level was amazing! I would go for entire game like that.
But yes, as you upgrade stuff, things become much easier later in the game. I think the 8 rating is correct. It is great game, but the story is mumbo jumbo and I don't even care at this point why, how and who.

2 • 
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wexorian

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SP games are more shallow and shallow include dishonored every day and there are very few jewels and most of them are RPG, With cons it's more like 6-7 , because if SP game does not have a good story at least what's left??

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Xiomata

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@wexorian: The game is riddled with books, letters, sidestories, long deep main story, so I wouldn't call it shallow at all. It is like the reviewer doesn't like reading nor listening to stories :S

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@wexorian: Gameplay? I mean, Mario's story is nothing to write home about.

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deactivated-5f7f1f15951f0

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They really need to lower the score on this, with the PC problems and now the non-nudity patch... we're entering No Man's Sky territory here.

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Mogan

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@gregrout: I think Gamespot got the PS4 version, so Scott wouldn't have seen the PC issues.

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DaShaka

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@gregrout: What's the non nudity patch?

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Gravity_Slave

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@dashaka: it's a thing these virgins use to get off when normal porn stops cutting it

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Cherub1000

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@Gravity_Slave: hahaha love it!

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starjay009

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Edited By starjay009

I have a good gaming PC (GTX 980, 16GB ram, i7 4970K). But I will not be buying this game for the PC for obvious reasons; poor porting, performance, bugs etc. However, I heard it's good on the consoles. I own an X1. Any X1 users here who can vouch for the game ? I really want to play it. Please let me know.

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thatguy2001

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This game looks amazing in 8k on my PC. Can't imagine how bad it looks at 1080p or 4k. Oh those poor peasants.

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starjay009

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@thatguy2001: You are either a troll or a nut job. 8K my a$$...

2 • 
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Mogan

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@starjay009: Pretty sure he's poking at the next comment down.

3 • 
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wexorian

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@Mogan: Shh don't tell him about sarcasm :)

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tunaman44

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Edited By tunaman44

game looks amazing playing a native 4k on my PC. Definitely play on PC if you can, I cant imagine how bad it looks at 720 or 1080.

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FartyPants

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@tunaman44: I can't imagine how it looks on 10 pixels. You must not know which pixels are shooting at you and which is you.

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Jkittleson

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PC game version is getting negative feedback.These companies can really give a shit about PC.

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Mogan

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@jkittleson: Ehh, they've acknowledged the problems and are trying to patch it. So they care at least that much.

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MarkNelson

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Not sure what happens after but im 20hrs in, on Mission 8 having found EVERY Rune and Bone Charm so far. I think the exploration to find Runes/Charms is my fave part of the game. Usually straightforward or locked in a safe. Some, particularly in the haunted-time-warp-Manor are more fiendishly hidden but it only takes a bit of head scratching and trial and error to get them. Im expecting to pull my hair out on the next mission coz the ones ive got so far havent been that hard to find.

2 • 
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Xiomata

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@marknelson: Finished a stealth, no kills, no detection, no powers playthrough. Finished after about 26 hours. Quite the journey, loved it! And havn't even been brought to the brink of madness. Guess the reviewer hates exploration, guess he should've gone with reviewing something else less free roaming :S

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thorn3000

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am planning my first playthrough to be the Flesh and Steel one right away, i.e. the one where you refuse outsiders powers and so have no powers at all whole game...people might find powers the most fun part, but I find it most fun when something is challenging, being overpowered, like even the review states, is the msot boring thing ever...additionally love the story perspective, telling the outside to f** off

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Dishonored 2

First Released Nov 10, 2016
released
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One

Dishonored 2 takes your protagonist, Corvo Attano or Emily Kaldwin, to the coastal city of Karnaca where the choices you make will have significant impact on the world.

8
Great

Average Rating

270 Rating(s)

7.9

Developed by:

Published by:

Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes