Dishonored 2 hands-on impressions – Navigating a (literally) shifty mansion


Dishonored 2, Arkane Studios’ sequel to its unique stealth-action game, is aiming to take the ideas presented from the first title and amplify them by 10. The night before I got a chance to go hands-on with the game, I finally beat the first Dishonored to have it fresh in my mind as I played the new one.

The first thing I noticed was that the new Void Engine was built specifically for Dishonored 2. The previous game had an art-style that made every person and object look like a canvas painting; the same style is present in the sequel, but in greater detail. Although it looks more realistic, it still retains that unique canvas look and feel. The demo I played was on PC, but I do not imagine console players will lose much aside from frame rate, as it will look beautiful regardless of what platform it’s on.


My target, for this demo, was Kirin Jindosh, an inventor who has kidnapped an old friend, Anton Sokolov. Sokolov is being held prisoner in Jindosh’s home, The Clockwork Mansion, and there is more to the abode than meets the eye. In it are rooms and floors that shift with the flick of a switch. This added to my strategy on how I was going to save Sokolov, and kill Jindosh. This also added to the array of guards in the mansion are Clockwork Soldiers, having robotic fiends that will activate once they hear a disturbance.

I was made to choose between the two playable characters: Emily Kaldwin and Corvo Attano (the protagonist from the first game). For the sake of seeing what’s new, I chose Emily, to see the different set of skills and powers she offers. One of the powers I abused in the first Dishonored was Blink; this allowed Corvo to warp anywhere within a certain radius. Emily has a similar, but more limiting, power called Far Reach: a supernatural hand that serves as a grappling hook and a weapon to pull foes closer to you. At times, I would grab a guard and watch them fall right into my blade. Satisfaction is the only word I can use to describe such a feeling.


Seeing as Dishonored games are primarily focused on stealth, you would want to do your best to not get caught. But hey, sometimes it happens, and the developers at Arkane are well aware of that, equipping you with some less than subtle weaponry. When facing off against the Clockwork Soldiers, my go-to weapon was the pistol with the exploding ammunition. A few shots of these will turn the mechanisms to dust. It is possible to take them down with the sword, and when you do, it will initiate a finisher move. Emily and Corvo each have different ones to represent their style of attack.

Another power (one showcased in the E3 2015 cinematic) is the Shadow Walk, which will turn Emily into a small, shadow-like creature that is harder to spot. Since she moves so close to the ground, she can go through air ducts allowing for different forms of passage. She is also equipped with a deadly lethal takedown in this form that will cancel the power as soon as triggered.

The last power offered in the demo is my favorite one so far: Domino. In this scenario, I was in a hallway with two guards blocking my path; they were distracted but not enough for me to slip by unnoticed. So I used Domino to mark one guard and then the next one. I took out my crossbow equipped with sleeping-darts and I shot the guard I marked first. As he went down, the other one did. Doesn’t matter if I knock out an enemy or blow them up, the same thing will happen to the next poor saps I tagged with Domino.


My first task was to save Sokolov, he was trapped in a small maze that would shift depending on which buttons were pressed on the floor; it also didn’t help that a Clockwork soldier was in there patrolling the area. Thankfully I was able to eliminate it with a stealth kill from behind. Sokolov was unconscious when I found him so I had to carry him all the way back to the cart I used to get to the mansion. Just like the first Dishonored, carrying someone does not affect your movement in almost any way.

Then came the time to finally assassinate Jindosh, who was nice and safe in his workshop. You can either take out your target lethally or non-lethally. Non-lethal options mainly consist of exiling a target or ruining their reputation, which is why I usually like going for them, as death would be a much less painful fate. This time, however, I went with the lethal option and threw myself in a sword fight against him and two Clockwork soldiers. I wasn’t too proud of my tactics, to say the least.


I was not all that interested in Dishonored 2, even after its impressive showing at this year’s E3, but now that I’ve played about 30 minutes of it, I am itching for more. If the powers and missions continue to be like what I’ve experienced in this demo, then Dishonored 2 is easily a Game of the Year contender. I’ll be keeping a lookout for Dishonored 2 when it launches on November 11, 2016, for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

Check out the new gameplay trailer below.

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