Streets ahead of its stealth game rivals

by Shane Dillon

WHAT if a young Queen Victoria had to flee a violent coup, hiding out in Rhodesia whilst attempting to retake the throne by eliminating her enemies from the shadows using stealth, planning and guile, or by charging about as a sword-swinging, bomb-chucking queen?
That’s not quite the plot of Dishonored 2 (Cert 18, c. €60, PC/PS4/XBO), but it’s a pretty damn close parallel to this sequel to one of 2012’s best games, which has proven to be a late gaming highlight of the year.
Largely set in a decrepit southern sun-kissed city, the game tasks you with taking charge of young empress, Emily – or as her father-protector, Corvo, the protagonist of the first game – and then working to reclaim the throne from an usurping aunt.
Ireland isn’t exactly overflowing with Royalists, but it’s hard not to root for this vengeful Victorian (a disclaimer: the developers, Arkane Studios, studied the world of 1851 for much of the game’s lush looks and linguistic lore, so that’s Victorian enough for me).
Both potential protagonists have wildly different powers and abilities to draw upon, giving the option to play through the densely detailed levels how you want to.
You’re free to skulk through the shadows and dart over the rooftops, or pursue open assault against the goons, lopping off limbs like a maniac monarch – either way, the choice is yours.
Your play style subtly alters the game, as well as the ending, giving you an incentive to replay and take a different style – perhaps less of the Rambo Royal next time, to be more of a mysterious monarch ghosting past the harried henchmen sweating in the sunny streets below.
And what henchmen, and what streets!
The developers have followed an ‘ugly-beautiful’ aesthetic, with the impressive game engine creating a singularly striking world, one that’s full of detail and rich in atmosphere.
Coming out so late in the day, and with the last-minute pre-Christmas big releases, there’s a danger that Dishonored 2 will be overlooked at retail.
However, while there’s a ‘u’ missing in the title, you shouldn’t miss this title if you enjoy challenging, richly realised worlds to explore.

Related Articles