Fifteen years after ascending to the throne following the assassination of Emily Kaldwin’s mother, Dishonored 2 begins with an unexpected (and abrupt) coup. Depending on the choice you make in this pivotal turn of events in the throne room, either Emily or her father, the original Dishonored protagonist Corvo Attano, must voyage to the southernmost point of the empire to unravel the conspiracy of this successful putsch and exact vengeance.

Dishonored 2 wisely preserves the brilliant play style flexibility of its predecessor, but better balances the scales between choosing a blood-soaked, high-chaos approach and a nonviolent, low-chaos solution. Whereas the first game failed to deliver a compelling progression for stealth-minded players, the distinct powers Emily and Corvo wield are equally useful for avoiding detection and taking a pound of flesh from every enemy you encounter. Stealth-minded players will also appreciate the addition of nonlethal drop takedowns and a small timing window that allows you to choke out enemies after stunning them during combat.

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Corvo retains the same supernatural powers as the first game — allowing him to bend time and possess other humans for a brief moment — but each skill is now upgradable using runes you can find hidden throughout the levels. Emily, on the other hand, brandishes a suite of brand-new abilities. The doppelgänger and mesmerize powers are useful diversions, and the shadow walk skill makes her harder to spot when moving through heavily patrolled areas. Each of these has value, but the star power of the game is domino. Once fully upgraded, this power allows you to tie the fates of several enemies together via a psychic bond.

Dishonored 2 successfully builds on the solid stealth-combat foundation of the original while introducing enough fun new gameplay concepts to feel fresh. This must-play revenge tale is among the best in its class.

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