A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dishonored 2 is a first-person action/adventure game. The game features a variable morality, allowing player to overcome enemies using lethal and/or nonlethal options, as well as with or without supernatural abilities. Regardless of which path the player chooses, Dishonored 2 is still a violent game, with characters being executed and tortured throughout, as well as blood and insect-infected corpses littering the streets. Parents should also be aware that, in addition to the sometimes extreme violence, the game also makes use of profanity in some of its dialogue. Some characters are shown smoking and drinking, while other characters reference sexual activity and wear revealing clothing. There's also frequent use of strong profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," and more.
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What's it about?
DISHONORED 2 is the sequel to 2012's stealth action-adventure hit, Dishonored. The game picks up a decade and a half after the events of the original game. The kingdom of Dunwall has prospered under the rule of the Empress Emily Kaldwin and her father, the former Royal Protector, Corvo Attano -- that is, until a figure from their past shows up, framing them for crimes they didn't commit and claiming to be the true heir to the throne. Now, depending on which you choose, it's up to either Emily or Corvo to clear their names, rescue their sole remaining family member, and end the usurper's reign to bring peace to Dunwall once again. Players will control their own destinies, choosing whether they will follow their code of honor and dole out justice in nonlethal ways, or give into vengeance and slaughter any who stand in their way. Players can even choose whether to take advantage of the special abilities offered to help in their quest or face the threat without the benefit of supernatural assistance. No matter how you play or which path you choose, the consequences of your choices will be yours to face in the end.
Is it any good?
This action-adventure game does an amazing job of encouraging players to find their own way to play, which makes it very special. Right from the start, the game not only challenges players to make the hard choices but to live with the consequences of those choices. After the game's opening sequence sets events in motion, players must choose whether to continue as either Corvo or Emily, each having their own unique set of skills. This choice is permanent for the playthrough, so if you want to see both characters' perspectives, you'll have to play from start to finish more than once. And whether you play stealthy and nonlethal, aggressive and deadly, or with or without powers, the game never lets you forget that there are consequences to your choices. It's a struggle to get the best results, but it's also a challenge to players to find creative solutions rather than just charging in, guns and blades blazing.
Speaking of creative solutions, there's plenty in Dishonored 2's toolbox for players to get creative with. Both Emily and Corvo might have powers from the same source, but they're different enough that neither feels like a copy of the other. Corvo's Bend Time skill sees the former bodyguard slip in and out of well-guarded areas in the blink of an eye, while Emily's Domino ability can turn a guard into a sort of human voodoo doll, spreading whatever damage he takes to others. As diverse as the two heroes are, it's almost a shame that you'll completely miss out on experiencing one of them until you finish your first playthrough. Still, even though the game can take anywhere from 15 to 20 hours to complete, there are so many ways to play that each time feels different from the last. And while Dishonored 2's plot can be a bit predictable, that never stops it from being engrossing. Even though you have an idea where the story is going, you can't help but be eager to see how it gets there. It's not just Corvo and Emily's struggle that catches your interest either but also the supporting cast with their own stories to tell. Even the random NPCs in the background have conversations that feel real and expand on their daily lives in this fantasy realm. You get invested not only in the heroes but in the world as a whole.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. When a game like Dishonored 2 offers both violent and nonviolent solutions, which do you choose and why? How does it change the impact of the game when you play without resorting to lethal tactics?
Talk about strong male versus strong female leads in games. How do Corvo and Emily differ in style of play? Is one meant to feel better than the other, or are they equal in their capabilities? How important is it to have the option of playing a strong female protagonist in a game?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Bethesda Softworks
- Release date: November 11, 2016
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.