Oops, I Broke Dishonored

By Nathan Grayson on August 16th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

I’m in love with Dishonored – or at least, what I’ve gotten to play of it at various press events and things. Torrid, disgusting, fluid-filled love. And QuakeCon’s demo, which saw me infiltrate a fancy mansion party to assassinate one of three “Lady Boyles” (only one of whom was my real target) might actually be my favorite section yet. Co-creative directors Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio, however, have gone on at length about how much they love it when players break their game and pull off supernatural stunts they couldn’t even conceive. So, after already sinking a few hours into repeat playthroughs, I sat down at my trusty demo station with a mission: ruin everything. Test boundaries. Push limits. Become the world’s foremost expert on Jello mold physics. And gosh, it was really, really fun.

Before I lay bare the sordid nature of my experiments, let me give you a brief flyby of the basics. The mission kicked off in a canal outside the mansion, heavily patrolled by both guards and Tallboys – long, spindly legs atwitter with excitement over the fact that they finally found a home after Gabe Newell left them cold and alone in a box by the roadside. My initial goal was to get into the mansion by any means necessary (for example, possess a rat, blink up the side of a building, battle a bunch of deranged plague victims, valiantly attempt to kill everyone, etc) and figure out which of three similarly dressed women all named “Lady Boyle” was secretly plotting with the corrupt Lord Regent. And then, of course, I’d need to find a way to make her not do that anymore ever again.

Can I… take down a Tallboy using only sleep darts? – Sadly, no. I stopped time and opened (non-lethal) fire on the first Tallboy I encountered, taking care to aim at the parts of the metal menace that were boy – or man, I suppose – and not simply tall. Three bolts, no dice. So I tried again. Three more bolts. Still nothing. One more try, and… nope. So, disappointed, I slowly trudged away and promptly exploded – as is the case with most things that slowly trudge away from Tallboys.

Can I… climb around the rooftops and do Assassin’s Creed-y things? – Kind of. I managed to blink my way up to the rooftops outside the mansion and skulk around, but tossing a body near a patrolling Tallboy a couple stories below yielded no reaction. Maybe he was preoccupied? I’m sure Tallboys have problems too. You know, tall problems.

Can I… take down a Tallboy using only my sword? — Hahaha, what do you think?

Can I… briefly stun a Tallboy by leaping on his head? — Yes, actually! It was really great until he became un-stunned and then killed me.

Can I… kill a Tallboy from within a neutral zone without ramifications? — Yes, oddly. The area beyond the mansion’s gate’s was designated a “neutral zone,” which meant I wouldn’t be attacked on sight while there. So I immediately opened fire on a Tallboy just outside the gate, and he stumbled around in confusion – as though trying to swat a fly he couldn’t quite see or punch a really jerky ghost. Eventually, he went down, and I continued on my merry way. Later, though, I asked a dev about it, and he was completely stumped. According to him, that doesn’t usually happen, but all I heard was “Nathan, you are special and should feel special.”

Can I… knock out a gate guard and then prop him up like he’s still alive? — The answer to this one is inconclusive. Here’s what happened: After completing the research for my Tallboy Dissertation, I climbed over a fence and landed in a back alley near the mansion entrance. Seeing as I’d played the demo half-a-million times by this point, I already knew what was going to happen. And so, a woman promptly lost hold of her party invitation, which I retrieved and kept for myself.

I decided, however, not to use it. Instead, I casually strolled up to a guard protected by a barred window, put a sleep bolt in his sternum, and plucked the house key from his pocket. Then I went around, unlocked the door to his little guard cabin, and hoisted his snoring form over my shoulder. So far, so good. Unfortunately, unceremoniously flinging the guard into his tiny window probably wasn’t the best idea, as curious partygoers rushed to discover the source of the clanging sound and promptly began screaming. But man, I did a good job of propping this guy up. He ended up in a sort of U-shape in the crook of the window, head tilted back into the breezy night sky, as though contemplating the enormity of the universe. It was such a gloriously serene scene. You know, aside from all the screaming.

Can I… sneak in, do the job, and leave without killing a single soul? – Yep! I nearly did it on my first try, in fact. Admittedly, a lot of it kind of happened on accident. Basically, I strolled into the party, resisted my real life instinct to head straight for the mouthwatering buffet table with a giant punch fountain, and made my way toward the mansion’s sordid guts – which, given the festivities, were vomiting confetti from giant curved tuba things. Ain’t no party like an alternate history whale-oil-and-plague-based society party, etc.

Before long, however, I was approached by a man in a patchy, haphazardly threaded mask. In short, he knew why I was there and was in love with the woman I was looking to kill. He said, however, that if I knocked her out and brought her to the basement, he’d take her away on a boat and no one would ever hear from them again. Still sounds pretty icky, right? But I figured it was still (probably) better than the lethal alternative, so I decided to go through with it. The Lady Boyle I was after, according to my lovesick-in-the-head ally, was the one in red, so after fruitlessly following her around in hopes of KO-ing her out of sight, I approached her directly.

To my surprise, it worked out rather well. I suppose, though, that “You will be killed by someone (I’m not saying it’s me, but yeah, it’s totally me) if you don’t go downstairs” is a pretty solid ace-in-the-hole. So she took the hint, I choked her out, and super creepyweird psycho man got his wish. It was about as smooth of a run as I could’ve hoped for – at least, until I blindly blinked over a gate, landed with a knee-shattering crash right in front of a guard, and had the whole place after me in mere seconds. Oh well. Live and learn. Or die horribly and learn, I guess.

Can I… ride away on the boat with creepyweird psycho man and Lady Boyle? — Nope. I hopped aboard while creepyweird was talking at me (honestly, my ability to do so may have been a glitch) and prepared myself for a glamorous life of sea conquest in a tiny, two-person boat. Then, as the boat began to drift away, I ran face-first into an invisible wall.

Can I… possess Lady Boyle instead of knocking her out? — Yes. Instead of even talking to her, I just walked her to creepyweird myself.

Can I… seduce Lady Boyle? — Yes, this is technically an option. She led me upstairs to her room, and – grim though the whole scenario might be – that’s as good of place as any to pull off an assassination.

Can I… bring Lady Boyle to creepyweird psycho man and then kill her? — This is, by far, the grimmest thing I came up with. I still feel sort of disgusting even thinking about it. Fortunately, it also didn’t work. The “thanks for bringing her to me blah, blah, blah” cut-scene triggered before I could irreparably sully my hands.

Can I… cheat in a pistol duel? — Yes. In so, so many ways. So basically, a side quest on the mansion grounds saw me get roped into a duel on a “friend’s” behalf. We took our paces, turned, and then fir– nope. I stopped time, shot him in, like, four different places, and then let things take their natural course. Another time, I took an explosive canister of whale oil and set it down next to the space I’d ultimately end up at in our duel. When it was time for us to turn and fire, I picked up the canister, threw it, and took out my opponent and his three friends in one glorious flash. “Where’s your sense of honor?” you might ask me. And to that, I raise you the game’s title.

Can I… use an assassination target as an assassination tool? — Incredibly depressingly, no. First up, I decided to make another run through with the goal of causing complete, unbridled chaos. So I started by KO-ing Lady Boyle in plain sight, which caused guests to scatter and huddle in fear while guards came a-running. As I held Lady Boyle aloft, I felt a grin creep across my face as I realized exactly what needed to be done. Three guards halted in front of me, swords brandished in such a way as to exclaim, “Stop it, you… bad person, you.” So I flung Lady Boyle at them.

She drifted right through each and every one, temporarily incorporeal until gravity announced its presence with a slapstick thud. Heartbroken, not even a terrifically one-sided “swordfight” (think: stop time + summoning a ravenous herd of plague rats) could cheer me up.

Can I… use an assassination target as an assassination tool against a Jello mold? – Yes! I flung Lady Boyle into a Jello mold, and it broke into the most realistic wobbly chunks I’ve ever seen. That whole moment – much like any Jello flavor except green – was absolutely delicious.

Can I… dispose of an assassination target using a disintegrating force field barrier thing? — In theory, yes – assuming the target’s already dead and I’m only doing it to get rid of the body. However, according to a Dishonored dev, all party guests had biology-based security clearance, so they could pass through completely unharmed so long as they were alive. Me, though? Not so much.

Can I… become an international art thief? — Yep. Upstairs, I found a gigantic art gallery. Most items – from ornate jars to gleaming pieces of jewelry – were steal-able, so I stuffed them down my magic pants, which immediately converted them into money.

Can I… read everyone’s diaries? — Definitely. This is one of the less ridiculous ways to complete the mission. Sneak upstairs, read each Lady Boyle’s diary, find out which one is evil, etc.

Can I… accidentally cause a state of pandemonium by leaping on someone’s head? — If those two servers would’ve just moved out of the stupid doorway, this would’ve never happened. But no, they had to root themselves in place, immobile as hundred-year-old oaks. So I jumped to get over them, only to land on one’s head. He fell down. And then, just like that, everyone lost it. Guests fled, guards drew their swords and pistols, and I had apparently been branded a war criminal for trying to walk through a doorway. (Admittedly, this experience was atypical. But yeah, attempt to jump over people at your own risk.)

Can I… sign the party’s guest book? — Absolutely. With the entire guard staff dead and everyone else shuddering in terror, I calmly signed my name and sauntered out the exit. All’s well that ends well.

And this is, in all likelihood, just the tip of the iceberg for this level. For instance, I hardly experimented at all with rats or possession. Also, each time you play the level, a different Lady Boyle’s the target. Clever, Arkane. Clever.

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61 Comments »

  1. Baboonanza says:

    Not reading this! Not reading this! LALALALALALA

    Sorry Nathan, but I’d like to go into this pretty blind. All I need to know is if it’s any good.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      Spoilerphobes, unite!

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      So without spoilers the point of this article is:
      Mr. Grayson tried multiple unorthodox methods of playing the demo level. Some experiments were successful, some where not. All of them sound fun. (also some weird bugs in this build)

    • RedFaust says:

      It should be read. its really good :).

    • xavdeman says:

      Sounds like RPS should send this article to the studio so they can script more of these things, like propping a guard up and for example having the creepy guy push you off the boat / attempt to murder you for ruining his romantic escape. Also, it seems like the guards freak out way too fast. If you jumped over someone to get through a doorway and nobody was hurt, a nearby police officer wouldn’t draw his gun, I hope. You’d be pushed away from your “victim” or told to leave the party, at worst. Also, a couple of sleep darts on the still human parts should be scripted to work.

      • KenTWOu says:

        Obviously it’s too late. Anyway Dishonored will be a great game even if it has invisible walls.

  2. McDan says:

    Sounds so good, and I’m very pleased to hear you can still complete missions without killing anyone, great stuff.

  3. WoundedBum says:

    It’s more Hitman than Hitman.

    Sounds fantastic.

  4. ulix says:

    In other news:
    Castle Crashers coming to PC.

  5. Premium User Badge AmateurScience says:

    What is this thing you call Jello?

  6. Bauul says:

    Quick question: if you possess someone and cause havoc with them, before heading back to your old body, does the enemy aggro you’ve whipped up transfer back to you or does everyone continue hating on the guy you possessed?

    The possibilities of possessing a guard, bitch slapping a party guest, and then hopping back to your old body to watch the hapless possessee being beaten to a pulp sound endless.

    • Premium User Badge LTK says:

      Good question. In fact, I don’t know if it’s actually possible to do harm while Possessing other people. I’ve only seen it used to walk people to a place where they’re more easily dispatched.

      I get the impression that the Possession skill gives you less options than you might imagine. It seems more like Possession is a strong form of suggestion, where the Possessed person gets an unexplained feeling of “I must do this”. That would make it somewhat more difficult to put them in harm’s way, because suggesting to ‘stand on a balcony’ would be met with less resistance from the victim than ‘throw yourself off the balcony’.

      • Ridnarhtim says:

        I’m sure I’ve read of, or seen, a case where the possessed was just walked off a balcony.

        It’ll be interesting to find out exactly what you can and can’t do with this skill.

        • Premium User Badge LTK says:

          In one of the RPS previews, the skill was used to walk a target to a balcony, then to depossess him and windblast him off. You’re probably thinking of that.

      • circadianwolf says:

        One of the Idle Thumbs mentioned at their QuakeCon panel that they used Possession to walk someone off a cliff into the ocean. So that definitely works.

        Unfortunately, there’s an unintuitive/wonky feature of Possession whereby when you end it, you (the dishonored assassin dude) appear wherever you leave the Possessed person. So that didn’t go well. But if you were just walking them off a balcony, that sounds like it might be okay.

  7. Premium User Badge LTK says:

    Ghosting the entire mission and then leaving zero clues to your involvement except an entry in the guestbook – “It was me who killed the Boyle woman” – sounds like the single best way to complete this mission.

  8. virtualmatrix258 says:

    I have to ask you this. What is the PC fov? And is there going to be an fov slider for the PC version? So far with the trailers I’ve not been impressed with the extremely narrow 55 console fov. Makes me nauseous…I gotta know this before pre-ordering on Steam.

    • Premium User Badge Llewyn says:

      This bears linking again (with rather forgetful thanks to whoever originally posted it on RPS):

      http://www.bethblog.com/2012/07/13/a-look-at-dishonoreds-many-ui-options/

      They be taking this PC UI business seriously, it seems.

      • virtualmatrix258 says:

        Thank you for that link. Apparently it’s going to have an FOV slider after all. I’m so relieved, my eyes won’t turn red and I won’t walk away with a migraine.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          “The mouse smoothing/acceleration slider and enable/disable options.”

          Niiiice. You’d think it’s a must, but games are still released with permanent mouse acceleration.

      • DellyWelly says:

        Warning: the blog doesn’t support the english language; thankfully, an american flag option has been implemented.

  9. Premium User Badge lowprices says:

    I couldn’t be more excited about this game if it featured spikes you could kick people into. Actually, that’s a lie, I could. Spikes you can kick people into improve everything from games to christenings.

    But I’m still excited about this game.

  10. Tuskin38 says:

    Oh god, I want the game even more after reading this article.

  11. man-eater chimp says:

    This article did make me chuckle, well played Mr Grayson. Cannot wait for this game.

  12. Ridnarhtim says:

    Sounds like there are still a few issues with the game … especially annoyed about things like a body passing through the guards. But I guess with an ambitious game like this, there’s always going to be something funny that can happen.

    Anyway, that was a hilarious read and I’m now more excited than ever to ghost my way through this entire game!

  13. BobbyDylan says:

    So much awesome!

  14. wodin says:

    Lots of gltich’s and bugs to sort out by the sound of it…but your going to get alot of them in a game like this and I bet tracking them all down is a nightmare.

    As for the often seen problem of people standing in your way..when will a developer incorporate an “excuse me” which then makes the personpeople move out of the way?

    • The Random One says:

      The day after Rockstar adds a speedometer to GTA.

    • Bork Titflopsen says:

      AssCreed has always had the gently-nudge-people-out-of-your-way-OR-push-their-faces-into-the-fucking-dirt mechanic, which -in hindsight- seems like such a simple and smart idea that it’s just silly no one had done something like that before. (as far as I know of)

    • gstaff says:

      I think there might be a misinterpretation of the discussions Harvey and Raph have had about “breaking the game”.

      Dishonored has very systemic gameplay that allows players to tackle scenarios in ways that weren’t anticipated by the team at Arkane. These examples of “breaking the game” are actually examples of the way Arkane wants players to use the different systems. As an example, the Creative Kills video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZDYq6HufNs), is an example of cool ways we want players to “break” the game.

  15. Chris D says:

    I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.

    Nathan Grayson
    Does assasination
    He’s the master of improvisation
    Has more victims than both Freddy and Jason
    Can kill with a look, or sometimes a raisin
    If you catch him he’ll call Perry Mason
    He’s the right dishonorable Nathan Grayson

  16. TrueSpite says:

    Considering you’re always wearing a mask you will only be able to interact with your victims at costume parties?

    (also meaning there will be an abundance of costume parties or an absence of infiltration / target interaction)

  17. Premium User Badge Hodge says:

    Last night I fucking dreamed I was in this game. That’s as good an indicator as any of my anticipation.

  18. Premium User Badge Kelron says:

    Does anyone else think of a chest of draws when they read “tallboy”?

  19. Jim Rossignol says:

    Just played the same level at GamesCom. Concur it is super clever in lots of ways, although there’s also some degree of feeling a bit cheesy with some of the solutions for escape. Going to write about it next week with an interview I did with one of the lead designers. Will make sure it’s spoiler free.

  20. Brise Bonbons says:

    I just don’t feel anything for this game. Sounds at once like silly power fantasy (with the blinking, time stopping, etc.), and also very limited in scope (being mission based and all).

    There must be something wrong with me. It seems like something I should be excited for, but I’m just not. Glad to hear most everyone thinks it’s well done, at least.

    • Shooop says:

      It’s just like Hitman.

      You’re in a designated area and have a few goals. But the game stops holding your hand there and lets you go run wild. You’re free to go around and learn more about your target(s) and notice things that could come in handy either later or on another playthrough.

      If you didn’t like Hitman’s style then his game probably isn’t for you. And not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    • strifecross says:

      Thief 2 – best level design in video games; best interactive freedom and is also mission based. You were saying?

  21. Totally heterosexual says:

    Fucking awesome.

    Is this lady the one in the fancy red hat/mask? If yes then that makes the seduce possiblity all the better.

    • strifecross says:

      She is randomized so it won’t be the red one each time.

      • Totally heterosexual says:

        Well thats nice I guess.

        That mask is seriously sexy though.

  22. Shooop says:

    I’ve read the minimum requirements include 4GB RAM.

    This is very strange because the screens and footage we’ve seen so far it doesn’t make it look very system-intensive.

    • Hematite says:

      Seems unlikely, given that 32-bit windows can’t address more than about 3 Gig and a single process maxes out at 2-ish. Perhaps a confusion between RAM and disk space on someone’s part?

      • Mr Jack says:

        The system requirements (http://www.bethblog.com/2012/08/14/pc-system-requirements-for-dishonored/) say that the game is being optimised for 64-bit.

        • Hematite says:

          Well well! I still suspect they just picked a number (since I clearly couldn’t admit to being wrong), but I’ll definitely be interested to see if they can find a use for enough resources that their minimum spec is a serious gaming pc (except possibly the video card).

          Now I’m wondering if they’re just targeting the spec of their dev workstations ;) It would certainly keep things simple.

          • eclipse mattaru says:

            That video card is actually way too much of a “minimum requirement” for a DX9 game. I have a GTS 450 and it manages just fine with everything out there, including fairly power-hungry stuff like The Witcher 2. I’m pretty sure there has to be an error in that list.

        • Shooop says:

          Oh now that I like. First true 64-bit game! And multi-core optimized too!

          And according to a Bethesda tech, that’s the requirements for running the game at high. Now I’m even more excited.

  23. pakoito says:

    Can I crash the 360 running it on Gamescom? Well, apparently I did hahahahaha

  24. Contrafibularity says:

    Oh I so can’t wait for this. Well, actually, that’s a lie, and I can, but only because being older than 20-something has taught me the usefulness of patience and every game I used to say I couldn’t wait for, I now actually can. But that’s totally beside the point, and this game tingles all those neurons in my brain that so joyously fire when I played some of my favouritest bestest games ever, and some new ones, I imagine.

  25. dazman76 says:

    A cracking good read as usual Nathan, thanks :) Really, really do want this game. Also really, really hoping it lives up to the admittedly insane amount of promise it appears to have. I guess I should actively manage some of that expectation, just in case.

  26. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    I think I finally understand what it is that I don’t like about Dishonoured.
    What makes immersive sims so awesome? The fact that the universe has solid and intuitive laws, and their interaction allows for occasionally hilarious, but mostly intuitive results, helping you forget for a second that you are merely pushing buttons and pretend that you are a part of a living world.

    None of the immersive sims I can remember have these ridiculous anime powers that sound both broken and somehow completely boring. It’d be hard for me to perceive teleportation or jumping out of a fish as something completely natural, so that might take the “immersive” part right out of the “sim” for me. Hope that I’m wrong and it actually clicks once I play it myself.