Want A New Thief Game? Play Dishonored 2 without powers

Last Updated August 20th, 2021

As I’ve discovered during my time with Dishonored 2, the sequel doesn’t really innovate on the formula which made its predecessor such a hit so much as refines it, giving fans of the original Dishonored more of what they love while also offering new gameplay options which can be either utilized or ignored at the player’s discretion. One such option even allows Dishonored 2 players to harken back to a time when another first-person stealth series was all the rage, a series which forced players to rely on their wits and reflexes as opposed to supernatural powers.

Yes, there is an optional mode in Dishonored 2 which allows you to play it like a new game in the classic Thief series, and believe me when I say it is a mode worth experiencing.

This article contains very minor spoilers for Dishonored 2

The Price of Power

Early on in the Dishonored 2 story campaign, the player is visited by the mysterious entity known as The Outsider and, much like in the original Dishonored, is offered the chance to accept The Outsider’s mark and gain access to a host of supernatural powers. However, Dishonored 2 players who also played Dishonored will notice upon being offered The Outsider’s gift that they actually have an additional choice they can make this time around.

They can refuse.

If the player wants to truly test their skills as a stealthy interloper or a skilled assassin, they can refuse The Outsider’s mark and forego the use of supernatural powers, activating what the game labels as “No Powers Mode” for the remainder of their playthrough. The player can still acquire passive abilities through Bone Charms (though obviously Bone Charms which augment powers will be worthless) and use Runes to upgrade their character’s non-supernatural abilities (such as Vitality for more health or Agility to jump higher) but refusing The Outsider’s offer completely cuts them off from using powers like Blink, Dark Vision, Stop Time, and more.

No Powers Mode serves as an homage to the “Mostly Flesh and Steel” achievement from the original Dishonored which tasked the player with completing the entire game while not using any powers other than Blink and it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that there’s a Dishonored 2 achievement which requires beating the game in No Powers Mode. Of course, No Powers Mode won’t just appeal to completionists or those looking for a more hardcore challenge, it can also allow fans of the classic Thief series to engage in a purer experience which more closely skews to the setup which Thief players had available to them.

Stealth At Its Finest

Playing through Dishonored 2 with no powers completely changes how a player can approach a given situation. Not having powers like Blink or Shadow Walk at the ready means that navigating a hostile environment can be much more nerve-wracking and if you accidently get in over your head in a combat encounter, the only option you really have is to run away.

Tools like Stun Mines and Sleep Darts also become much more valuable since they can help you bypass groups of enemies entirely. You might think that the loss of a key traversal power like Blink would be a hard blow to take, but if you upgrade your character’s agility, there’s really no place you can’t get to without a few well-placed jumps or by finding an alternate route.

So why would you want to deny yourself the chance to use sweet supernatural abilities against your enemies? Well, if you’re not interested in achievements or simply upping the difficulty as much as possible, the presence of a No Powers Mode also allows for some fun roleplaying opportunities. Perhaps you want to play Emily Kaldwin as an empress with an innate desire to do good and stay away from the darker forces of the world or maybe you want to play Corvo Attano as someone who is glad to be rid of his dark gift (Corvo loses the original Outsider’s mark he got in Dishonored early in the Dishonored 2 narrative) and who absolutely refuses to go down that path again. After all, would The Outsider really offer such a boon if he didn’t expect some sort of payment down the line?

Sure, the Dishonored 2 setting of Karneca isn’t really like any of the locales players visited in the Thief series and Thief protagonist Garrett certainly wasn’t as skilled with a blade as Emily and Corvo, but if you’re already planning on attempting a pure stealth/no killing run of Dishonored 2 (two conditions which the Thief games often forced players to stick to on its highest difficulty settings), going with No Powers Mode can once again allow you to channel your inner Garrett. Plus, Corvo just so happens to be voiced by veteran voice actor Stephen Russell, the same voice actor who voiced Garrett in all of the Thief games. If that’s not a clear indication that the Dishonored series was, on some level, meant as a spiritual follow-up to Thief, I don’t know what is. 

For more on Dishonored 2, be sure to read our official yourstandard.us review.

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