Since the early 2000s, the gaming industry has realized that giving games gender options is crucial to relatability of a video game. I remember playing Megaman ZX and ZX Advent, which gave the player two characters to choose from, the only difference being their name and gender. How did it make the plot different? Good question. Dishonored 2 continued this confusing genre of gender-option gameplay, allowing more than one voice actor to make money off of playing a main character even though both sides say the exact same thing.
The first thing you need to know about Dishonored is that for a game about story, the story is convoluted. A story based entirely on science fiction qualities is usually a flimsy plot, but this is a video game. Hallelujah! There are literally virtual libraries filled with lore about the world, as well as its supernatural events and inhabitants. All of these qualities combine to make a fictitious world that’s rich in feeling and lore, yet lacking in substance.
The universe they live in has a government constantly on the verge of collapse due to the rat and now insect plague, hence why so much crazy crap has happened within the past 20 or so fictional years. Dishonored, as the title would suggest, focuses on the characters that have been betrayed and must redeem themselves through force. In the first game, murdered wife and kidnapped daughter in tow, you must save the damsel in distress, your daughter, more times than Mario did. Previous hero Corvo gained super powers from the void in order to protect those who he loved, but now the main antagonist, Delilah, has his same power, if not more. To the point, either Corvo or his daughter Emily will defeat her using the powers of the void! SpoOoOoOoOky!
The game itself plays just like the last one, Bioshock with powers that alter time and space, ranging from teleportation to stopping the passage of time. Naturally, since nothing has changed, it’s still fun unless you hated the combat system to begin with. The game strongly urges you to sneak rather than to simply fight the whole time, which they stress by making the game harder and by making NPCs give you a stern talking to, like a parent confronting their college-age child about their usage of marijuana and alcohol as if it’s crack; “have you become a monster? Did I make you a monster?”
Point being, the gameplay is still solid. At the same time, the game, urging you not to kill, has a few blunders of ill-preparation for when you do eventually find yourself in combat. Assassinations look strange at best, with the victims giving no expressions, as if they don’t feel a thing when they’re stabbed through the neck. More importantly, the NPC enemy soldiers all sound like they’re voiced by the same guy, and considering they chose to hire two people to read the main character’s lines for two separate characters, this mistake is unacceptable.
The ending is similar to the endings of Fallout, a series of cutscenes telling the tale of the future based on how many people were killed, who was killed, and who the main character was. The game gives you an illusion of choice, and while it might seem like a cop-out, the choices that you do make gives you a certain kind of feeling, like a link to the world. Again, this might be due to the world itself, built with strong lore and commanding narrative.
If you’re not interested in becoming entranced in the story, don’t get the game. It’s Bioshock-styled, which means you will be forced to view “cutscenes” or characters talking to each other in normal game graphics for extended periods of time. Look at the trailer: if it interests you then by all means go for it, but if not don’t do it. Despite being such a strange game that not everybody will enjoy, Dishonored 2‘s production quality, gameplay, and continuation of a prior beloved narrative is bound to give returning fans exactly what they were looking for. There are consequences for everything – tread carefully.