Elect who you want into power: the good old boy or the woman who has been in office before. There’s no consensus here—its your choice. Dishonored 2 kicks-off after you cast your vote for either Corvo (from the previous Dishonored) or the dethroned empress, Emily.
Once you cast your vote, you’re thrust into it: power to decide who lives and who gets disemboweled, power to upgrade your newfound magicks into whatever superpowers you prefer, and (perhaps most importantly:) power to shape the world’s outcome.
I don’t know about you, but “power to shape a world’s outcome” seems mighty attractive to me after casting my vote in a political system where my voice doesn’t feel like it matters.
I don’t know about you, but I needed an escape this week.
I can’t help from seeing the political climate of the game as some kind of allegory for the tensions in our real world. The escapist power fantasy that is Dishonored 2 is just what Doctor Bethesda ordered. I’ve never been this thankful for the timing of a game’s release.
The multitude of choices at your disposal in Dishonored 2 can’t be overstated. The game’s second mission, Edge of the World, dropped me into a sun-soaked harbor with a brand new bag of magic tricks. With civilians and guards everywhere, I set out toward my target destination with at least six optional routes (from what I found). In the main path there’s this big “wall of light” that insta-kills me the moment I walk through. I could kill the guards, rip the whale-oil out of the power box, or reverse the polarity of the circuitry box so that when the guards walk through they disintegrate themselves. I chose another path around the wall of light altogether, passing through the blood-fly-infested (and quarantined) apartment around the corner.
This multi-path choice isn’t a one-time thing. Every scenario sticks to this rule of multiple choice. If one option doesn’t work, try another. This staple in game design won me over in the first Dishonored, and it persists as a player-choice-validation in the sequel.
Your long-form choices have much more immediate results: on my initial run through the first mission, I killed every guard standing in my way—each killing animation more gruesome than the one that preceded it. The next mission, a small shopping alley was set ablaze in riot fires and blood-fly infestations. When I replayed both areas a second time, choosing to be mercifcul rather than deadly: that same shopping alley was clean, neat, and unscathed. My level of violence created a domino effect in the world’s sense of order; destabilizing it or preserving peace.
As Emily, my new magical choices let me tentacle-teleport all over the place, providing vertical and horizontal advantages over every vista. My fancy new smoke monster ability let me transform into a barely-visible Sandman, whispering “hush little baby” every time I forcibly lull yet another guard to sleep. I also got this “Mesmerize” ability that lets me hypnotize anybody with a good twenty-second distraction that makes fools forget I’m walking up to them to choke them with a sleeper hold.
The ultimate goal for any Dishonored game is to reclaim your honor, but in Dishonored 2’s case, it’s to regain control over an empire.
Every mission and action takes strides towards that goal of dominion. Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t state that this was a questionable ambition for somebody who loves Christ and his Cross; and perhaps it’s fundamentally at-odds. But this week (and maybe for many more weeks), this escapist political power fantasy sates the very appetite the electoral season stirred up in me.