Honouring Dishonored: Celebrating Three Little Details

A couple of weeks ago I was teasing splendid Kotaku writer Jason Schreier after he tweeted describing Dishonored as “still underrated.” Underrated?! The PC version has a Metacritic rating of 91! There’s only one score (or “rating”, you might say) under 8/10, and that review is silly. This is one of the most highly rated games ever!

Since I’ve started replaying it, once again attempting to rescue the young empress from an evil regime, I keep thinking to myself, “Man, this game was underrated.” Sorry Jason.

I think I’ve ended up realising the game was primarily underrated by me, and I bloody loved it. As I once again explore its epic missions in intricate detail I’m noticing more and more that makes me recognise just how outstanding the game really is. Why isn’t this the game we cite when we complain about all other games?

For this first retrospective, rather than talk about the larger story or the details of the missions, I’m going to pick three of the features in the game that make me want to give the screen a round of applause. Celebrate them, because they deserve celebration.

The Background Conversations

Dunwall, Dishonored’s city setting, has been deservedly lauded for its depth and breadth, each sprawling mission location replete with hidden routes, secrets to discover, and multiple paths to take on any situation. You can sneak to the rooftops and silently leap and Blink your way to your goal, or tramp through sewers, or possess rats and sneak through tiny passageways, or blunder in guns blazing, or push your luck and attempt to stealth your way along the streets busy with guards. It’s madly rare that a game genuinely gives you such choice, and just so well delivered here. But there’s something else that becomes very apparent as you do this.

The chatter. Now, nearly all games offering any notion of player freedom tend to have banter between NPCs. Indeed, the games of which this is a spiritual successor, like Deus Ex and Thief, had guards nattering away, dropping tasty tidbits of information or amusing anecdotes. But Dishonored raises the bar very significantly. Firstly, there’s quite so much of it. So many defined characters despite being stock-guards, their informal conversations well worth stopping to hear. Second, it’s well acted, smartly written – these chats give so much life to the city, so much background to the major characters, or just a pleasing laugh. Rather than being filler, they feel like welcome story, stuff you’re glad you didn’t miss.

And thirdly, it adds a real effect to how you want to play the game. Being offered the freedom to be a wanton murderer, zealous pacifist, or anything in-between, I often find my decision is driven far more by my own proclivities or mood than anything offered by the game. Here, hearing these people with lives and thoughts and questions – now there’s a far greater sense of consequence to my actions over the more usual headshotting to have them shut up. Playing entirely pacifist as I am (I plan to write a lot more about this in another post), I’m even feeling some guilt about tranquing some of these people. (With others, the arseholes, I’m taking great delight.)

So much personality in the city, stuff that is entirely ignorable, requires a lot of dedication from the developers – to write and record quite so much that you know most players will never hear is a big deal. It really pays off in Dishonored. Which brings us to…

The Heart

There is no chance that I can improve upon Paul Walker’s stunning article about Dishonored’s Heart from 2012 but I shall jot a few thoughts of my own here.

Where the conversations mentioned above give so much life to the city, the Heart gives it – well – it gives the city its heart.

I so love that what is ostensibly an in-game compass, designed to point toward hidden upgrades, ends up being something so much more, something so much deeper. The Heart, gruesomely an actual human heart clutched in Corvo’s hand, augmented with twisted wires and tubes, tells you of the city and city inhabitants’ souls.

Point it at anything in the game and the incredible voice acting of April Stewart will describe it to you in distinctly emotional tones. This can be a building, an area of the city, a random faceless guard, a major enemy or ally, anything. And what you hear doesn’t just flesh things out, but changes your mind.

Take Admiral Havelock – an organiser of the Loyalist Conspiracy, owner of the group’s meeting place, the Hound Pits Pub, and the man who arranges your freedom from prison at the start of the game. He appears, early on, to be an austere and grave good man. But use the Heart on him in those first few hours and you’ll learn of a man who has seen more corpses than anyone else in the story put together, and, we’re told, “killed whales and men for profit, and pleasure.” He’s a monster. Click again, and you might learn about his younger brother, a gentle child and artist, who died aged 9. “Havelock loved him truly.” He’s a broken man. Then, “He has the bloodlust. He tried to seize control of the military after the empress… she… the empress was murdered.” Then what are his real motives? Who is this man who’s leading the cause for which you’re fighting?

Finding this out this way is unique. I need not have used the Heart on him at all, nor indeed on anything else in the game. I could have taken him at face value, worried at some of his conversations with Lord Pendleton, but not known more. In learning more, I’ve learnt not crucial plot information, but conflicting emotional knowledge about a complex man.

Oh, and that last line I quoted? That’s fascinating too. Those ellipses are the Heart’s usually authoritative and mellifluous voice catching, hesitating, seemingly not sure whether to share something, emotionally wrought and fragile.

The Jump Button

I had planned to write about Blink, one of Dishonored’s many mystical abilities that allows Corvo to leap forward, upward, downward in a particular unobstructed direction. I adore it. Teleporting to a nearby ledge, onto a rooftop, then placing myself on the ground immediately behind a guard so I can throttle him unconscious (it’s a weird form of pacifism) and pop his snoring body onto the pile I’ve been collecting. Blink is one of the most satisfying mechanical features in any game I’ve played. But instead I’m talking about just the basic jump.

Having recently struggled through the very broken Homefront: The Revolution, one of the most frustrating aspects of the game was the clumsy and woefully inaccurate jump. The game wanted you to scramble through ruined buildings, but just wasn’t good enough to let you. And as I was frustrated with it, I realised how common this frustration is, how normal it seems for a game’s jump feature to be a troubling mess.

So rediscovering just how well Dishonored’s works was a revelation for me. “Oh, right, THIS is what it should be like!” Even without augmentation, the basic spacebar-to-jump here feels so effortlessly lovely to use when navigating the streets. Mantling isn’t a timing-based stab of a key or mouse button, it’s automatic, because you obviously didn’t want to jump up in front of the crate and then watch it slide past your face on the way down – you were trying to get on top. Movement feels smooth, almost liquid, as you scarper and scamper, darting up rocks or obstacles to escape a mob of hungry rats or to avoid the gaze of an alerted guard. Rather than being conscious of the mechanic with which you’re engaged – John playing a computer game – you remain in-fiction – Corvo scrambling for his life.

And that’s not my favourite thing about it! My favourite thing is so simple, so small, it almost feels petty to describe it. And yet. It’s that when I’m crouched, and jump, I land crouched. I’m sure there are other games that have realised that jump is not synonymous with walking upright afterward, but I’m struggling to think of them. And it makes such a difference! Well, after I’ve gotten used to its being the game that gets it right, and not over-compensating by accidentally standing up again once I’ve landed.

And this is indicative of the game Dishonored is. A game that wants to be played, not fought against. A game that understands how people play games, and adjusts itself for that. Of course these should be things we expect, not things to celebrate in jubilant articles, but there we are.

Jason was right. Lots of high scores and critical acclaim do feel like underrating! This is a game that ought to have joined the Mighty Lists containing names like Deus Ex and Thief. It’s one of them, and deserves to be revered as such.


  1. Zekiel says:

    Hear hear. I can’t really praise Dishonored enough. And there’s all the lovely secrets and environmental details you can find… It is amazing how much detail went into this game.

  2. Eight Rooks says:

    Yes to this. Great piece of writing, John. I would note that the Heart does, unfortunately, repeat lines pretty quickly for regular NPCs, but it’s still a lovely feature and a great way of developing the writing, worldbuilding, storytelling etc.

  3. finndc says:

    Very well put, all of this.

    Without spoilering (too much, anyway), one of my favourite details was the boatman’s reaction to you going into the last level, depending on how you’ve played the game. One path leads you to one of the funniest, most exhilirating starts to…er…an ending that I’ve seen in a game. Some very clever stuff…

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      That entire final level is starkly different depending on your choices throughout the game.

      I was very glad to have replayed it, and seen a different ending. My first time I was very stab-happy, and it gets quite bleak.

      There’s a few scenes with the Empress, and drawings she makes (some in the tower I think, some in the pub?). Those are also slightly variable depending on your play style.

  4. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    I love the irony of an RPS writer pointing to metacritic scores to rib his colleagues.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      That said, I take issue with this line: “Being offered the freedom to be a wanton murderer, zealous pacifist, or anything in-between,”

      The freedom to do so is certainly there, but the game only actually responds to the first two of those three paths. And the former’s response is to rub your nose in how awful you’re being for having the audacity to use the majority of the tools you’re given.

      • MrFinnishDude says:

        Its not about scolding you for using the tools youre given, it scolds you for murdering men (atleast more than necessary).
        I see no problem there.

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          It’s a game that is built around the idea of murdering men in novel ways, that scolds you for murdering men.

          • Sonntam says:

            I still have no idea why people complain about getting the emotionally stronger storyline out of the two. Have you done the pacifist playthrough? It’s one of the most emotionally underwhelming storyline you could find. The low chaos ending is just “and everyone lived happy ever after :3”, while high chaos gives showcases a wonderful descent of the humans pitted against each other. It’s a beautiful tragedy, painful in a way that would not be possible in a linear storyline.

          • MrFinnishDude says:

            Well the scolding part is only about showing that youre a bad guy.
            Sure you can enjoy the whole game no problem while killing everyone, but youre still the bad guy and the good guys wont like you.
            I find it silly to ask the game otherwise.

          • Geebs says:

            The non-lethal stuff you do to the main targets is pretty terrible, though, and the game praises you for it. Conversely the bad guys (and, frankly, most of the neutral NPCs) are murdering jerks but you can’t be because Outsider or something). They’ve written an interestingly grubby universe and then imposed 21st century North American morals on the player character for no reason.

            The worst problem with Dishonored, however, is that there are no fun toys for stealth, and ghosting is incredibly boring.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            “Conversely the bad guys (and, frankly, most of the neutral NPCs) are murdering jerks but you can’t be because Outsider or something).”

            I haven’t played it in awhile, but I had the impression that the Outsider wanted you sow chaos, and that part of the core tension of the game was deciding whether to use the tools that he gave you to do so.

          • Punning Pundit says:

            The Outsider is basically a bored Elder God who gives powers to certain people in the hopes that watching them will amuse him for a while. It’s less that he wants to sew chaos per se, and more that he wants to see what a superpowered person will do when thrust into a chaotic situation. He wants to study who (say) Corvo or Granny Rags are, and does so by giving them little gifts…

          • KenTWOu says:

            Why are you treating the chaotic dilemma like this? The non-lethal stuff is terrible, to be sure, but it leads to a less chaotic environment. It’s not a praise, it’s just low chaos.

          • Arkayjiya says:

            How is the game scolding you? It’s just not pretending than killing everything don’t lead to more death and despair, but it doesn’t punish you in any way for that truth, it only tells it to you.

        • CubeTruth says:

          You can (or at least could when I played it) kill every single target and still get the “good” ending.

          • Zamn10210 says:

            Yes, about time someone pointed this out. “Low chaos” doesn’t mean non-lethal, it just means not being wantonly bloodthirsty. If your approach is murderous-but-careful (and you don’t cock it up), you get low chaos.

          • Xocrates says:

            Not to mention that most of the non-lethal takedowns of the targets are so cruel that actually killing them might be preferable.

            Non-Lethal certainly does not mean good in the world of Dishonored.

          • jonahcutter says:

            Indeed. I killed every overseer I came across, some gang thugs, and a mix of violent/not on the main targets, and still got the low chaos ending.

            You can fight and kill in the game and still get low chaos. You just cannot fight and kill everything.

      • Aitrus says:

        It doesn’t pat you on the back for being a terrible terrible person, and I will always stand by that as one of the strongest points of the game.

        • ephesus64 says:

          I have so little time to play games, I agree that it’s wonderful when I have the option to choose to play as someone who isn’t a sociopath. It’s irritating when games end up boxing you into whatever the developer’s position on ethics might be. If Dishonored really does tend to only notice actions that either match Gandhi or Heath Ledger’s Joker, I suppose that’s fine,it just means I have to be more internally motivated to role-play how I choose without the benefit of Steam achievement pop-ups.

          • Punning Pundit says:

            You as the player will notice the difference, though. Your entire play style will be different depending on whether you go on a murderous rampage or not.

            One of the things the game does so very well is to reward a pacifist run by demanding a deeper engagement with the game’s world itself. A pacifist run may not use many of the mechanical tools, but you will _know_ Dunwall in a way that someone on a murderous run simply will not. And to know Dunwall is to love Dunwall.

        • thedosbox says:

          This is a game that ought to have joined the Mighty Lists containing names like Deus Ex and Thief. It’s one of them, and deserves to be revered as such.

          Those three games are my list in it’s entirety. Games that are so good that they’ve been replayed multiple times on multiple machines.

          Sure, there are other games that are “worthy”, but none scratch the same itch in quite the same way.

          • thedosbox says:

            Err, I seem to have it reply on the wrong spot. The comment system here is terrible.

      • Merlin the tuna says:

        The freedom to do so is certainly there, but the game only actually responds to the first two of those three paths.

        Eh… There are only two basic endings, but one of the sneakily-great parts of Dishonored’s morality system is that it cuts you a lot of slack. I made it a point to brutally murder basically all of the Overseers (priests) after they were introduced with a comically villainous “How to better oppress women” speech. Never got High Chaos for a single level and got to play with all the toys I cared to. Especially since a lot of them have both combat and non-combat applications.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I’m more bemused about an RPS writer taking the stance that Dishonoured wasn’t underrated when they picked Far Cry 3 as the bestest best of 2012 over it. That’ll be one of the reasons it isn’t up there with those other games…

      • brucethemoose says:

        They picked FC3 over Dishonored?

        Opinions are opinions, but in hindsight that seems like a mistake

        • Geebs says:

          I bought FC3 on the basis of that recommendation, which was definitely a mistake.

          • FreshHands says:

            Obviously you are wrong on this, gentlemen.

            Against my better judgement I bought FC3 on sale and loved it to pieces. That high-brow journalists from RPS shared my opinion (at least, then) only sweetend the deal.

            Now that I think of it, I feel like having equal amounts of fun with both games. Sorry, Internet!

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          I played both, but I got bored in the last mission of Dishonoured and have never been back since, and I’ve replayed FC3 at least once.
          I still think Dishonoured was a better game though, I just didn’t find it as enjoyable.

  5. uglibugli says:

    I think that the chaos mechanic has gotten some ill rep for all the wrong reasons. As the name implies, the player should not cause chaos. I’m pretty sure you can go out of your way to kill almost everyone in the game and still get the good ending as long as you do it without causing any commotion.

    • Zekiel says:

      Um I don’t think that’s true – you can kill anyone in the game and get the low chaos ending, but not everyone. I think if you kill more than about 20% of people you get high chaos. But that still gives a good margin of error to limit lethality to deserving targets.

      • Aitrus says:

        Pretty sure he’s somewhat right. Commotion causes more chaos than actually killing people, based on someone’s study. Can’t remember who did it. That said not sure you could get away with killing /everyone/ in the game and still getting the positive ending.

        • Zekiel says:

          Well i never. I hadn’t heard that. I do rather like that Dishonored obscures how chaos works, since it makes it feel more realistic.

          On the other hand I also hate it since (afaik) if you’re going for low chaos the ONLY thing that tells you if you’re on track is the mission stats screen… At the end of a 2 hour mission*.

          * If you play missions the way I do

          • Aitrus says:

            This isn’t what I was talking about, but here’s what one person said – “I watched my friend play through the first couple levels killing everything (Sparing the targets) and bam low chaos”

            link to gamefaqs.com

          • KenTWOu says:

            ‘Sparing the targets’ did the trick.

    • brucethemoose says:

      That would be an interesting plathrough: methodically kill everyone you physically can without anyone noticing.

      Not one that I have the patience or skill or time to attempt, but I would happily watch it on YouTube.

  6. Zekiel says:

    I do disagree on one point – there isn’t enough variety in npc chatter, even though what there is is superlative. “Shall we gather for whiskey and cigars?”

    Also what the heart has to say about standard npcs is random, as you’ll realise if you reload a save, which harms verisimilitude a bit.

    But it is still really, really awesome.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, it’s a shame they didn’t associate NPC heart texts in a random-but-pinned way, so they didn’t contradict themselves.

      One of the weirdest quirks of that is that the cleaner/maid in the pub has generic NPC-class dialogue, so I had the awkward situation where the heart was telling me about how she was going to die to a mugging, but Corvo was completely uninterested in warning her or doing anything about this.

      • Aitrus says:

        Cecelia or Lydia? I could have sworn both of them had unique heart dialogue.

        • Aitrus says:

          Just looked it up, you’re right. Cecelia has generic heart speech. That’s disappointing, she’s my second favorite character, after Callista, Emily’s teacher/caretaker.

  7. Laini says:

    You could use the Heart on people? Wow, I do not remember that at all.
    It’s a great game though, I really ought to play through it again sometime.

    • Lobster9 says:

      I completed the game twice, and have played individual missions about a dozen times over the last year.. and only now have I learned what the heart does.. THE MORE YOU KNOW!

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Yes, I assumed that it only told you info based on your location, so if you were in someone’s room it would give you a bit about them, didn’t realise you could get extra info…

      • AutonomyLost says:

        Yep. Same here!

  8. StartRunning says:

    When I first played it, I thought it was cool, but lackluster. I really wanted to see what similar games, with a similar approach to worldbuilding and ambience, would be able to do in the years to come, but there have not been a lot. So now I’m looking forward to the new Deus Ex.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      See, this was my reaction, but like John I think I underrated it myself. Remember being terribly excited about it, as with anything remotely ‘immersive sim’, but ended up buying the same time as XCOM. I was so blown away by the latter, Dishonoured felt a bit disappointing. Levels too linear, violence too easy a route through, character too overpowered. It was close to the Thiefs and Deus Exes I loved but not quite there.

      However, it really got me in a second playthrough. I missed so much, can’t believe I thought the levels were linear. And yes you are totally overpowered, but with the difficulty up and a bit of self discipline there’s a really challenging stealth game in there. The DLCs really expand the best bits as well. A lot of open, explorable levels with multiple approaches to objectives. I’d recommend another go if you thought it was a bit pants.

  9. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    A great game, and one I’ve only come to appreciate more with time. On my first run I got a little too caught up on quibbles with the story and came away a little dissatisfied, but subsequent playthroughs reminded me just how rich and rewarding the gameplay and world-building are (I do still think that it front-loads all its best levels, with most of the post-twist stuff feeling a little weaker…But then again even that section includes the incredible encounter with Daud, which is one of my very favorite parts).

    I loved that John highlighted the movement too–Dishonored is proof that you can both have smooth, physically convincing movement *and* still give the player total freedom to clamber around as they wish (looking at you, Thief 2014).

  10. milligna says:

    It’s pretty terrific in VR via VorpX, Blink really helps here and the Geometry 3D mode is really nice. Definitely recommended.

  11. Rolento says:

    I adore the game. Played it and its DLC twice as i enjoyed it so much:)

  12. Chorltonwheelie says:

    One of my “Stays installed” games.
    And yes, it was underrated.
    Way to many wanted it to be Thief so lead themselves to the position that the Blink was a cheat. It wasn’t Thief…it was different and better.
    I’ve been saving The Brigmore Witches DLC for an age intending to play it before D2 to get me in the mood. I might just sell one of my sprogs into slavery, buy a GTX 1080 and play it all through again!

  13. derbefrier says:

    I always thought it was a bit over rated being the first game of its kind in a while. The game not balanced well as certain powers made most challenges trivial and the story was laughably bad and childish. Wasn’t a bad first outing for a new IP but I do hope the sequel allows them to perfect the formula.

  14. chabuhi says:

    Damn you, Walker, for making me reinstall and play this game all the way through (plus probably both DLCs again) for the sixth time.

    Didn’t you see my comment on an earlier story where I confess to having both Witcher 2 and 3 still sitting unfinished on my desktop? Not to mention DA:I … and others to remain unnamed.

  15. ephesus64 says:

    Excellent use of “ostensibly”, that’s my favorite word.

    I’ve never heard “scarper” before though, I had to look it up. That’s a good word too.

  16. WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

    Dishonored was far too short and far too easy. The systems were interesting enough, but the game never became hard enough to really warrant exploring them properly. I also felt the story was badly lacking, caricatures are absolutely fine and I abhor the notion that everything has to be some kind of character piece like A Song of Ice and Fire, but nevertheless I did not get the impression that the writers really understood the story they were trying to tell, and how to get it across. Knife of Dunwall was better, but still too easy and still too short (though I can forgive the “too short” part since it was DLC). Lest anyone think me a Soulsesque Git Gud boor, I would say on balance that SS1, SS2, Deus Ex and Thief 1&2 (the imsim genre, in short) are all about right difficulty wise for what they are trying to be, so it’s not like I’m a grumpy boots in general.

    Much harder next time please, Arkane, at least on the hardest difficulty. Honestly, just removing that little bit of magic auto-regen, making Blink more expensive and having the guards look upwards occasionally would probably be enough.

    • Aitrus says:

      In Dishonored 2 you can adjust the guards vision cones how you like it. They can also do some climbing, to potentially follow you up to higher places.

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        Excellent, these are positive changes.

      • Thulsa Hex says:

        This just reminded me of something about Dishonored of which I was genuinely grateful: HUD customisation! The default settings were a mess, with waypoint indicators that compromised the sense of exploration and the general idea that you were poking around in the shadows, looking for your mark. As soon as I turned that crap off, it became a much more enjoyable experience. I’m glad the options were there, but I do wish it were off by default as it felt at odds with what the gameplay and environments were trying to encourage.

        • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

          Agreed, though I believe I turned everything off as soon as I got the game. I can only imagine how trivially easy it must be with things like waypoint markers turned on! Those things really are a scourge in every game they are in.

          (Obligatory shoutout to Morrowind <3)

          • Thulsa Hex says:

            I’ve probably mentioned this on RPS before, but there’s a related anecdote that tickles me: in Deus Ex: HR, there’s this one side quest where the objective indicator was bugged and didn’t show. I came across a load of reactionary outrage about this in some forum, with people complaining, “how are we supposed to know what to do????!!!!” Thing is, even a cursory glance at the quest log tells you that the guy you’re looking for is in the sewers of one of the hub areas — i.e. a small, readily identifiable location.

            I really don’t know if the HUD-based hand-holding has caused this sort of behaviour, or if these kinds of folks necessitate it’s implementation. I’m for accessibility in games in general, but it does amaze me how many “gamers” don’t want to think for themselves.

          • Thulsa Hex says:

            P.S. “Gamers,” in quotes, was not meant to imply that these are not “teh REAL gamerz”, like me — I don’t identify with that term much, myself. More that a lot of people who self-identify as Gamers on the internet tend to act like this :\

          • Muzman says:

            Reliance on these things has harmed design to some extent as well, as requirements are placed on players that they couldn’t possibly understand without tooltips and markers. Then developers forget these things and simply add a feature to turn stuff off and it leaves many things unintuitive.

            Dishonoured fell afoul of this in a couple of places. There’s really no way to know, for instance, that you’re supposed to dump a certain guy in the dumpster without the game telling you that’s the right place.
            It’s one of those clues that this, like most games was built on the assumption of maps and objective markers etc.

        • Aitrus says:

          Agreed! The little “awareness” markers over guards’ heads were the worst, for me. The game already had sound cues and dialogue for that stuff, no need for an extra cluttery, unimmersive visual cue, so yay for being able to turn stuff off!

          • FreshHands says:

            Agreed even more!

            Turning stuff off has become my personal favourite with any exploration-based game.

            Glad even AAA-devs understand it now. Sad that some of these “helpers” are obligatory nowadays.

        • basilisk says:

          Except for that one mission where you’re told to take a target out of the mission area, by which the game means that you’re supposed to throw him into one specific skip on the map, but there’s absolutely no way to know that without objective markers, so lots of pointless running around and wondering if your game is bugged ensues.

          Yes, I’m still annoyed about that.

    • Pazguato says:

      I agree with the story lacking.

  17. Thulsa Hex says:

    Dishonored was released the same day as the XCOM reboot, as far as I can recall, which is significant as they were both implausible big(ish) budget comebacks of somewhat niche, PC-associated genres. This also meant that a lot of people had to initially choose between one or the other. I went with XCOM, which I don’t regret, but it wasn’t an easy decision!

    When I did get a hold of Dishonored on Xbox 360, life stuff meant I had to drop it after only a couple of hours. Long (boring) story, short, it was a full two years later before I finally able to get back to it. I liked it a lot, but it was already feeling a bit dated on the 360, and my ailing machine was barely able to read discs anymore (and that was if the drive even opened to allow you to put them in the bloody tray!). I feel like I should go back to City 17 Dunwall, now that I have a decent PC.

    I’ve only recently heard that the DLC is well worth playing, so that’s another incentive, I guess! I had written it off because I read the DLC was disappointing back in the day — but that must have been specifically relating to the Dunwall City 17 Trials.

    • fish99 says:

      You should absolutely go back and play it. It doesn’t look dated on PC and the DLCs are both excellent.

    • Punning Pundit says:

      Interesting note: Dunwall and City 17 had the same visual designer. I looked that up after a couple hours in Dunwall, because, well. It’s obvious where Dunwall was inspired by!

  18. heretic says:

    I might have to replay this… great piece! Really enjoyed my run through.

  19. Pazguato says:

    I really love the game as well, but just some points for the “problems” post:

    -It was impossible for me to finish the game without killing anyone: the dogs love to kill the sleeping guards. And you have to finish the game just to know you weren’t able to get that damned achievement because they don’t inform you at the end of each stage.

    -The outsider: It just doesn’t make sense at all, and his existence and purpose aren’t well explained or I should say devised.

    -Corvo seriously lacks personality and character (not like Daud). Maybe it’s time to ditch the silent protagonist, the empty vessel?

    • Thulsa Hex says:

      Agreed about the Outsider. I didn’t like the Xen Void side of things all that much, if I’m honest. The pseudo-reality of the main world was much more interesting, and I’d have loved more development on that instead.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I’m pretty sure it does tell you at the end of every mission if you had any deaths or not. I know it’s far from the hardest game around, but I’m old and slow and still managed to get no kills and ghost everything on my second attempt – I remember checking the counter a couple of times, grinding my teeth and reloading, though.

      • Pazguato says:

        It’s been a while so I don’t remember quite well how it was. I just finished the game without kills but I wasn’t awarded the achievement. I thought it was related with dogs / rats though.

        • KenTWOu says:

          My guess is Granny Rags/Slackjaw encounter glitch didn’t allow you to get the achievement. The game treated non-lethal attacks against Granny Rags as lethal ones. Although, post mission stats screen showed you still have no kills, they counted against Clean Hands achievement.
          Fortunately, they fixed the glitch even cleaning savegames created after this encounter.

      • basilisk says:

        It informs you at the end of each stage, but not at the end of any of those intermission levels at the pub. And there’s one particular weeper in the sewers down there who, if you tranq-dart him, tends to fall into the water and drown, which counts as a kill, but the game never tells you.

    • Aitrus says:

      Well you’ll be happy to know that both Corvo and Emily have a voice as protagonists the second time around.

  20. Muzman says:

    It’s an almost nauseatingly grim game, which is impressive. Great original look as well. I do wish the main plot were as smart as some of the other aspects though. Corvo’s not helping the resistance, he is the resistance. Everyone else just sits on their can at the pub thinking of stuff for him to do.
    Standard ‘video game hero’ logic really shouldn’t be acceptable in a game of this standard.
    Corvo’s actual agency in the story is so low it just feels wrong. It’s lower than Bioshock and there at least it was ironic. I’m not necessarily expecting it to be a Deus Ex game, but at least give us some color dialogue to explain this away. Everyone seems to be terribly blase about having this vengeful badass on staff (who luckily acquired super powers right after we let him out so he can actually do all the stuff we want. He wouldn’t have lasted long otherwise. I wonder what plan B was.) and his loyalty to the cause and continued success seems taken completely for granted.

    At one point Corvo is tricked into taking someone’s place in a duel. It’s cute. It’s novel. It says a lot about the character in question. It is also monumentally stupid and puts the entire mission and the conspiracy itself in jeopardy. Corvo and everyone else should be royally (Imperially?) pissed off about this.
    I’m not asking for the world. Just notice that this stuff matters and acknowledge it, game makers. Act like the world is filled with action and consequence and not just there for our linear amusement (like you did in other aspects of this game).

    Also the puzzles are kind of hopelessly basic and the levels are disappointingly simple and small in a post Thief world. But still, very good game. I thik it’s rated about right, really: crital raves with mild audience qualms.

    • Muzman says:

      Pardon my severe tag failure.

    • Pazguato says:

      Couldn’t agree more. It’s time to raise the bar higher in videogame writing. It’s a pitty because the world was there, and that’s a very tough thing to get right. I don’t know why but I have few hopes about the sequel changing this.

  21. Cryio says:

    Man, I freakin’ love Dishonored. I game made by former Thief/Deus Ex devs, with inspirations taken from Undying/Bioshock/Hitman? Lovely.

    I just finished Dishonored for the first time this week and I’m close to finishing the story DLCs. Marvelous content all around. Can’t wait for a 2nd playthrough to go guns blazing.

  22. fish99 says:

    I’ve finished Dishonored twice, both times stealthily. I’ve also started and abandoned a high chaos playthrough because it didn’t feel right to me for Corvo to be a ruthless murderer. Corvo may be voiceless but his honourable character is established in the first 10 minutes of the game in the way Jessamine and Emily react to him and the sort of people they are.

    My only other criticism would be that I barely ever remembered to use the heart because I was too busy playing the game, and therefore missed some backstory.

    Great game though and one of the most convincing game worlds, with tons of lore to reward the player for exploring. I replayed it just last month.

    • Punning Pundit says:

      I have the same feeling about a high chaos run as Corvo. It’s just not quite right. But! I can understand him going on a righteous rampage to avenge his lover and save his daughter! That would be in keeping with his personality.

      I do love that it’s only really in a methodical, low chaos run that you can discover these facts about Corvo.

      I tried a high chaos Daud campaign, but after the first stage, I felt like a very sloppy assassin, leaving too many bodies in my wake. So I restarted.

      • fish99 says:

        I’ve no problem with him killing the people who need killing, but I just don’t see him as someone who would kill innocents, unless I’m just missing some aspect to his character.

  23. elaforge says:

    Thief’s guard dialog was so much better. Dishonoured felt uninspired and repetitive in comparison. “I heard you got promoted” vs. “Are you going to the bear pits” should be no contest. Even the story dialog seemed to just get the job done, but nothing as compelling as Thief’s inter-scene narration.

    Thief 1 and Myth 1 are my short list of games with what I consider excellent writing.

    But I agree jumping and mantling was better in Dishonoured. Garrett always felt more like a cube in high-heels than an acrobat.

    • Aitrus says:

      I think John is referring to the actual scripted conversations you hear pretty often in Dishonored, not the auto-generated ones.

      • elaforge says:

        Right, I feel the scripted ones didn’t measure up either, though I don’t really remember any. I just remember that Thief 1 (and NOLF!) made me look forward to every one, while Dishonoured felt merely adequate, and being disappointed on an opportunity lost. The voice acting also seemed flavourless and overly enunciated.

        Maybe it’s harder when the world takes itself more seriously.

        • Ushao says:

          Benny stole every “scene” he was in

        • Nightcrowe says:

          Dishonored is one of my ‘keep installed’ games along with Thief and Deus Ex.
          I hadn’t actually finished The Brigmore Witches dlc because I feel bereft when I complete a beloved game so I keep it there, in the background, like a lover that I can go back to at any time ;)
          I’ve been playing Fallout 4 for months, but after reading this I’m feeling the pull to go back to Dunwall. Also, I have to get ready for Dishonored 2….can’t wait!

          Someone else here mentioned NOLF in relation to the fabulous npc chatter….I used to play the heck out of that fantastic game (and online too…happy days!) and just hang around listening to the chit-chat. It was so funny.

  24. brandoncorder says:

    I know I’m not the first, but brb reinstalling.

  25. Morgan Joylighter says:

    “not over-compensating by accidentally standing up again once I’ve landed”

    I did this literally my entire playthrough of the story. I just couldn’t get my subconscious to stop believing I was standing at the end of my jump…so many games work that way that it’s as automatic as expecting to rise into the air when I press jump.

  26. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Guard1: Shall we meet for whiskey and cigars tonight?

    Guard2: You always amuse me.

    John: *starts slowly clapping at the monitor*

  27. kael13 says:

    For some reason I found the game a slog. The game gave me a headache too (I can’t remember what the max FOV settings were). Although I eventually completed it, I didn’t enjoy the story. Being talked at the entire time, myself a mute with sewn lips, wasn’t helpful when I wasn’t agreeing with what the characters were saying.

    The colours were washed out and everything was greeeeey. And textures were smuuuudges. Yeuch. And those irritating plant-spore fungal-turret enemies. Oh god I’m remembering the trauma. I think I played it on hard. That was probably my first mistake.

    Anyway, I will appreciate that it had some good level design, oh and that one party you sneak in to was fun, but that’s about all I liked.

  28. CodeSquares says:

    I always wanted to go back and do the DLC, but the original was so neatly wrapped up and quite grueling at times that I felt like I had enough of the experience.

    But now … reinstalling. :)

    • Punning Pundit says:

      The Daud campaign is mechanically more polished, and the story delves a bit more deeply into the horror story aspects of Dunwall. I won’t say it’s better than the main campaign, but I will say that it does a great job at standing on its own as an experience, and deepens the experience of the main campaign.

  29. qrter says:

    I disagree on the quality of voice acting in the game – most parts sound horribly miscast, with some of the most lacklustre acting I’ve heard in years.

    I love John Slattery, but he is awful as Admiral Havelock. Brad Douriff, another excellent actor, sounds as if he is reading the script for the first time. Susan Sarandon, what are you doing there?

    The Heart sounds like a college girl, awkwardly chewing her way through poetry. It should’ve been a worldweary, older voice, full of melancholy and regret.

    And then there is the Outsider. Oh my lord. It doesn’t help that the writing for the character is terrible to begin with, ofcourse.

    The only one who seems to know what he is doing, is Michael Madsen as Daud. (Also, Carrie Fisher is fun as the replacement announcer, if you decide to.. remove the original announcer.)

  30. fupjack says:

    This isn’t really a spoiler, but more of a worrisome thing to think:

    The reason the Heart voice falters every time it mentions the death of the Empress… is because it’s the Empress’s heart.

  31. iardis says:

    I never quite got what people found so great about this game. The heart is a great idea, yes, BUT it is quite tedious to run around and use it on EVERYONE so that you don’t miss any important tidbit of information. For me it killed the pacing of the game.

    In addition the game was so easy that I got bored after encountering the assassins… even though I stopped using my powers and weapoons… I don’t know. (yes I know there is a mod to fix this. Might check that out at sompe point in the future).

  32. Nightcrowe says:

    BTW….strangely, I had to re-register to post (see above). Does your registration die if you don’t log in enough?