“Beauty From The Shadows”

Acting as one of the biggest surprises of the year, Arkane Studios’ return to the bleak and atmospheric world of Dishonored was a project I fell in love with much more than I anticipated. As someone who recognized the appeal of its acclaimed predecessor–but not to the degree of many others–I went into Arkane’s sequel with moderate expectations. Having emerged from the other side, I couldn’t be happier to say Dishonored 2 is one of the most pleasantly surprising games I’ve gotten my hands on this year. Drenched in a rich sense of history and fascinating, gritty atmosphere, Dishonored 2 presents itself with a unique world to explore, outfitted with some of the strongest level and mission design the year of 2016 had to offer. Its heavy-handed narrative stands out as a low point when stacked next to the title’s largely stellar remaining components, yet when caught up in the moment of executing the perfect infiltration and assassination, it can be easy to forget Dishonored 2’s blemishes.Reworked and refined, the open-ended, level design that connects Dishonored 2’s exquisitely crafted environments return from Arkane Studios’ debut effort with the series. Not only do the more openly constructed settings allow for richer and more pronounced worldbuilding, but they’re also home to some of the most varied, challenging, and engaging combat encounters in recent memory. The sheer level of mechanical depth incorporated within each of Dishonored 2’s gameplay scenarios can be staggering, beckoning players to return for additional playthroughs. Among Dishonored 2’s many feats, nothing stands out quite as much as its knack for experimentation. Worked into every component of the missions, upgrade systems, design of the world, and of course, the gameplay, Dishonored 2 never stops embracing the player’s desire to employ new tactics and tinker with the variety of tools in front of them. It’s a refreshing and complex defining trait, and it’s one that Dishonored 2 wears proudly. With the exception of a weak, poorly-sold main narrative, Dishonored 2 remains a triumph of design. The riveting gameplay and sophisticated acumen for level design carry Arkane Studios’ latest title through the gates of greatness, placing it on a pedestal occupied by gaming’s proudest stealth games.

Excerpt from podcast (BS W/ Braxton Ep. 06):

Note: Check back every day for new entries & updates in my personal GOTY 2016 roster…

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