Getting hands on with Dishonored 2 is instantly both deadly levels of refreshing, and reassuringly familiar – if stealthy killing could ever feel remotely comforting, that is. For my time with the Clockwork Mansion, I had access to both returning hero Corvo and the now playable Emily Kaldwin, the young empress from the first game now all grown up. Corvo’s powers are instantly familiar with things like the teleporting Blink, a wind blast and the ability to slow time. However, if you’ve played the first game and on the hunt for new powers, I can’t recommend going with Emily enough.
As you can see in the above video, Emily’s powers are odd and alien at first but, being new, capture that feeling of experimentation and discovery that made Corvo so much fun to use. Remember the first time you slowed down time as someone shot at you, then possessed them and walked them into the path of their own bullet? God, that was fun.
Emily’s core power for abuse is Domino, an ability to link people together to share a fate. Initially the uses feel obvious: link three guards up and you only have to kill one to take out the rest. In one fight I successfully countered an attack and lopped off an arm and head, watching the same thing horrifically happen to each of the others in turn.
You can get creative in so many ways. When I was low on resources and wanted to take out a certain guard, I linked him to another entirely unrelated soldier and dropped a shock mine on his patrol route. Once he triggered it, the guard I actually wanted removed got zapped as well. It’s stupidly entertaining to think ‘can I…? Yep’ as you mix and match gadgets and powers. While playing as Corvo for example I slowed time to attached a mine to a rat and watched as it scurried up to some enemies and took them all out.
One stand out combo comes via one of Emily’s other abilities, Far Reach. This acts a little like Corvo’s Blink, targeting a distant area but pulling her towards it physically at great speed. But, it also pulls things towards her. So, Domino three guards together and watch them bounce around on a magic string as you yank them across rooms or off balconies. I… probably did that a bit too much.
Unsurprisingly, the star of the level I played called ‘The Clockwork Mansion’ is the Clockwork Mansion. This location, built by genius inventor and soon to be dispatched bad guy, Kirin Jindosh is a wonder to behold – pull one of the levers dotted around the building and panels and walls shift around, mechanisms twist ceilings and everything reconfigures around you into a new room.
For Dishonored 2’s already open style of gameplay it’s yet another layer of choice and opportunity. Not only can you change rooms around to reach different parts of the mansion but time it right and you can get in between the walls, through the mechanisms and access a whole behind the scenes area where you can sneak past guards, tamper with security devices and creep about undisturbed. There is a lot to consider.
In among these shifting walls the action has a familiar feel if you’ve played the first game. As ever there’s no set route or approach as you explore, just whatever you can make work. There are two objectives in the Clockwork Mansion – rescue an old friend Anton Sokolov, and dispatch Jindosh, either by killing him, or non-lethally by other means. The ways of achieving this seem endless and there’s even the choice to play with no powers at all if you really want a challenge.
Every time I played I seemed to find another route or option – disintegrating Walls of Light or Arc Towers to deactivate or turn against the guards, windows to open, balconies to hop across, paths through guards without using powers and still not being seen. I played the same level for four hours and felt like I’d barely scratched the surface of what was possible.