Arkane Studios returned to the Dishonored series a while back now, developing a highly anticipated sequel to the original game and delivering earlier this month with Dishonored 2. Things this time around are a little different, however, with the player immediately able to pick the character they'll be playing as; either Corvo from the first game or his daughter, Emily. This is just the first choice of many that you'll make throughout the entire 15-hour plus title, which will have a huge impact on exactly how your journey will play out. Emily and Corvo for example have a completely different set of supernatural abilities to enhance your adventure.
Taking place a decade and a half after the Lord Regent was vanquished and the Rat Plague had faded into history, it doesn't take long for the drama to kick off all over again. With Empress Emily Kaldwin on the family throne and a serial killer on the loose taking the lives of all who oppose her, she's facing ruling a kingdom who may not entirely be behind her or believe her when she says she has nothing to do with the deaths. Perfect then is the opportunity for an imposter posing as Emily's aunt to seize her throne and turn the guards of the Isles against her, with orders to slice her down whenever they get the opportunity (if you choose to play as her, of course. If not, the guards will be looking out for Corvo). From this moment on, it's really your decision on how the story unfolds. Of course, depending on which character you decide to play as, the responses they have to the other people and world around them will differ. In fact, playing through the game twice as both characters is essential for anyone looking to get the most from Dishonored 2.
When entering the game's world, you should really embrace everything around you, including all of the objects you can pick up or play around with. If there's an alarm clock in a room for example, and a guard you want to sneak past or lure closer to you for a killing strike, you can set the time on the clock to go off, leading them either towards you or away from you, depending on how you want to play. There really are a wealth of opportunities available, so if you want to be a stealthy, passive hero who refuses to murder those around them, or a violent, revenge-taking assassin, there are chances for everything and every type of player.
Want to play sneakily? Utilise the ability to peek through keyholes before bursting through doors. Keep an eye on everything above you - jumping across rooftops and ledges often means you can avoid confrontation with groups of aggressive foes. Cause confusion with opponents by throwing bottles in the opposite direction to the one you're trying to get to. Eavesdrop on those having conversations so you can find out more about what's going on around you; it could be the key to successfully progressing to the next stage of your travels.
Making the most of Runes and Bonecharms is also very important - providing you accept the mark of the Outsider which I would highly recommend! Use the Heart given to you to find them and also find out more information about locations and sketchy characters. If you think someone is hiding something from you, point the heart at them and give it a squeeze - you might be surprised at what you discover.
Make an effort to review your bone charms at least once every couple of hours once all of your slots are filled. Depending on your play style, there are certain charms which will benefit you as you make your way through the story.
Difficulty can be changed at any time, which really is a blessing for the casual gamer. For those of us who are more attuned to games of this type, the hard mode provides a real challenge. Give it a go for at least one of the missions you'll undertake - it's an experience that has to be done first-hand to be really appreciated.
Visually, this is a stunning game, and we have the new Void Engine to thank. Whether you're in the dreary streets of Dunwall or enjoying the lush coasts of Karnaca, you're able to fully immerse yourself into the world around you, with gorgeous scenery and architecture on offer. Make sure to explore whenever and wherever you can - just keep an eye on your surroundings so you don't get busted.
Fans should be thankful Arkane Studios have spent so long crafting such a wonderful game. Not only is the story a gripping and compelling one, but the sense of being a real part of the plot and making momentous decisions means that this is the best assassin video game to ever be on offer. Instead of forcing out a game every year to maintain interest, they've kept their fan-base waiting for all of the right reasons, coming out of the other end with an incredible piece of gaming and storytelling that should go down in video game history. Is this the best story-driven game I've ever played? I think, quite possibly, yes.
Dishonored 2 is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Female First reviewed on Xbox One.