Dishonored EP21: The Fight at the End

  By Shamus   Apr 26, 2013   206 comments


Link (YouTube)

I love Josh’s final fight with Havelock. I like to imagine a movie version where they play the first 1.2 seconds of Duel of the Fates and then cut off abruptly. It was certainly a fitting end for this short and emotionally muted game.

As a writer, I found some of the shortcomings to be really frustrating. I mean, look…

dishonored_outsider.jpg

It’s hard to look at that guy without stopping to re-design, re-write, re-cast him in my head.

Anyway. That’s Dishonored. Everyone seems to be in general agreement about what worked and what didn’t. Dishonored was an excellent game with a couple of baffling shortcomings that will keep it from being the classic it might have been.

Thanks for watching.


A Hundred!A Hundred!6206 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?


  1. Dragomok says:

    You’re really good at making comics. I haven’t seen these in a little while.

  2. Dragomok says:

    It’s a bit of a shame that you didn’t go with the failure ending, though. It would have fitted Josh perfectly. And it would better into the movie, too.

  3. impassiveimperfect says:

    But…it’s too soon to have finished! Or overdue, I guess, given the game’s shortcomings.

    Time to pester the SW crew about the next season.

    Pester pester pester.

    Actually, I’m wondering what the inter-season specials will be.

    CAN RUTSKARN DO ABSOLUTION PRETTY PLEASE??? (Or is that reserved for Hitmas? Guess maybe it should.)

    CAN RUTSKARN PLAY EUROPEAN TRUCK DRIVER GAME???

    Wait, who was playing the train game way back when?

    Guess maybe we should just have some more co-op silliness. That’s always good.

    • nerdpride says:

      I vote Josh. When Josh fails it’s like he’s pointing out what the game does when you’re failing. Or bugs. When Rutskarn fails it’s haberdashery like murdering everyone in Hitman. That kind of thing can go in Chocolate Hammer.

      I think Shamus was playing the awful train sim.

      Also, Dishonored was surprisingly fun but I don’t think the DLC would be a good pick unless it were different.

  4. Brandon says:

    Thanks for this great season. It inspired me to finally actually play all the way through Dishonored, which I had pretty much written off as a game. Once I focused on how fun it is to play rather than how bad the storytelling is, I enjoyed it way, way more, and it was something someone said earlier in the series that made me come to that realization.

    I’ve also been watching through your older Spoiler Warning archives, and now I’m really looking forward to whatever you guys play next. Since I literally JUST finished (Seriously just finished the credits less than a minute ago) playing Bioshock: Infinite, I would love to see that, but I’m not expecting it right away.

    You guys are awesome, anyways. Hope you keep it up.

    • Thomas says:

      +1 on the fantastic season. This, Deus Ex:HR and The Walking Dead have been seasons where the pacing felt perfect and every single episode was great to watch.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I agree. This season was excellent.

        I wonder if it’s because Dishonored is a fairly short game compared to typical SW seasons. There’s only 9 missions and Josh blew through them rather quickly.

        • Josh says:

          And I nearly got everything too. That’s the thing that just baffles me.

          • newdarkcloud says:

            I know. It usually takes me a hour or two to go through an entire mission, exploring every location and getting all the Runes and Bone Charms.

            You blather about for 10 minutes and suddenly you have 10 Runes and 15 Bone Charms.

            IT’S NOT FAIR!

          • Brandon says:

            Much to the chagrin of everyone else, yes. Although let’s be honest, for such a near-completion run, you got it done really fast. It was impressive (and a lot of fun) to watch.

            • MrGuy says:

              I was a little disappointed we didn’t go back for that one last rune. Feels like a very “Josh” thing to do, trolling us all that one last time.

          • It sounds like what I sometimes call “the artist’s paradox” applies to video games. If you draw, the sketch you create without really thinking about it in two minutes will be more awesome than the painting you work on for weeks.

            So if you’re just playing to “get through” a game, you’ll probably do pretty well because you’re not hung up as much on making mistakes or playing seriously with an eye to perfect scores, all items collected, etc., which somehow results in surprisingly positive outcomes.

            • jarppi says:

              I think you hit the marker here. Before this season I had played Dishonored 1.5 times trough. Even if I played the second play-through with high chaos the flaws of this game stopped me half way trhough. It was not long after the release. When I found out this would be the next SW season, I finished the second run with a “get through” attitude. Not caring about mistakes, not planning anything. Darn, it was so much fun.

    • Friend of Dragons says:

      After all they’ve had to say about it, I wouldn’t mind seeing them do Tomb Raider. Still just a bit on the new side…

      (I really want to see them do it just so I can find out if Josh’s monster PC can handle Fraps and TressFX at the same time)

  5. MrGamer says:

    Another wondrous spoiler warning season concludes. I am quite excited to see what comes next.

  6. Bruno M. Torres says:

    “It’s hard to look at that guy without stopping to re-design, re-write, re-cast him in my head.”

    Shamus, have you ever thougth the Stranger is so bland because Corvo himself is a bland, uninteresting guy?

    • Irridium says:

      I’ve had that theory. I’ve heard that the Outsider is different for anyone viewing him, so it could work.

      Actually, is the Outsider in the Knife of Dunwall DLC? Does he appear different for Daud? If so then I’ll accept it, though it makes me even more angry since they should have made Corvo more interesting. If not, then why the hell is the trickster god who grants superpowers the most boring character in the game?

  7. GM says:

    hmm the high chaos is a bit longer and interesting than low one the people are so calm weird.

    Shamus you got that comic on escapist i ask because it fits there.

    lol Josh that sword fight.

    hmm the wind being useless yeah still going to use it somewhat,you guys know about the lvl 1 and 2 stealth boot?

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Eh, I thought they were all pretty much equally anti-climactic. I was doing the storming the castle thing -I pulled out my gun for the first time in the whole game (except the duel, that doesn’t count) and charged up the stairs shooting and slashing and kicked in the door to find…

      Havelock standing there ignoring me completely.

      Followed by one well placed shot and a short hug with Emily.

      Color me underwhelmed.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I don’t know. All of the other targets died really quickly too, except for Daud. Why should Havelock be any different?

        • Decius says:

          Daud is the only other target who studied fighting the way the Empress’ bodyguard would have to. Even the tall boys are the equivalent of a SWAT team sniper as compared to a Secret Service one.

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            I actually really liked that about the game, it teaches you certain mechanics and gives you certain tools and then doesn’t take them away, ruin them in a cutscene or give characters immunity out of the blue. Daud can resist certain powers and the music box overseers can neutralize them but the other game mechanics still apply to them and the game always gives you an option to work around these limitations rather than limiting gameplay.

      • Astor says:

        Well, I actually appreciate the organic way you can deal with Havelock, there are no shenanigans, no scripting, no nuthin’. I too find the high chaos Havelock to be more satisfying, but it’s also more cliched.

        I can say, though, that I’d have appreciated something more, because it almost feels like Havelock had no clue regarding what he was doing. Like he didn’t move to consolidate his power, or get guards or design some way to deal with Corvo. In the high chaos ending I could see him being “meh, everything’s FUBAR, why bother when I’ll be ruling over naught but rats and decay in two months?” But in the low chaos it’s harder to justify, if you went to all to this trouble to become emperor and kill pretty much everyone else with power, you won’t simply surrender because Corvo’s coming. You’ll try to reach the finish line no matter the odds.

        • Eric says:

          I agree, I’m very appreciative that it’s not yet another boss fight against some guy in a giant evil machine that’s going to suck all the power from the Earth’s core and give him super abilities, or… whatever. Flashbacks of the first BioShock coming back to haunt me. I think the entire level itself qualifies as a sufficient “boss fight”.

  8. Thomas says:

    Wow they straight up deny the idea it was ever a chaos system at the end. ‘Will they say she become a empress by climbing up a pile of bodies?…No, they will say she came to reign in a troubled time…’

    That’s words for ‘She became an Empress through incredibly immoral means, but the history books will whitewash it and call it a time of chaos. When actually it had nothing to do with chaos. It was the bodies’

    It doesn’t even mention the plague

    • newdarkcloud says:

      The Chaos system could have been done well, but like the Outsider and the story, the way they chose to go about it just felt wrong.

      Still, I respect this game and I’m glad it came out. A new IP at the end of a console generation that’s not another shooter. Only Bethesda would dare to release it. Fortunately, it shows that publishers are wrong and new IPs can sell without new consoles.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        The nice thing about the Dishonredverse is that it has a nice solid backstory and distinctive setting, meaning that a theoretical sequel can keep these elements and use them to tell a decent narrative.

        And it’s not like the story is that terrible to begin with, most of the problems are with the presentation and characterization, which aren’t that difficult to fix.

        • Klay F says:

          Sadly this game pulls the old Elder Scrolls chestnut where it actively makes me wish I was anywhere other than where the game is taking place.

          In Skyrim I was desperately wanting to see a devastated Morrowind, or a war-torn Hammerfell. In Dishonored I was desperately wishing I was in Tyvia, or Serkonos. Really anywhere as long as I was away from all thoroughly unlikable assholes in Dunwall.

          • SKD says:

            Sounds like you are falling in to the trap of the greener grass on the other side of the fence.

            Since you aren’t experiencing those other locales your mind is free to expound and expand them to be more interesting than they would be if you were playing a game actually set there. Horror games and movies have the same problem where the monster you have never seen is far scarier than the one at the end of your gun barrel.

            • Klay F. says:

              I won’t dispute this. But I maintain that if those games didn’t have lore that was so much more interesting than the actual games, then my imagination wouldn’t HAVE to run overtime.

            • I also don’t know if this is true. In Final Fantasy games, you sometimes get a lot of lore about stuff that happened in the past. Sometimes, that lore is really interesting, giving you the sensation Klay had: Final Fantasy I, for example. But there are other times where I am totally invested in the narrative and don’t need to be anywhere else. Even in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, far from perfect stories, I was interested in what was happening more than what I read elsewhere.

          • Michael says:

            Honestly, the only TES game that did that to me was Oblivion, where I was still pining for Morrowind. Skyrim, with it’s civil war and Empire in decay was a pretty interesting setting.

            Though I won’t deny wanting to go back to Morrowind in Skyrim. That said, every time I fired up Dishonored, I found myself wanting to go back and play Dark Messiah. And it’s really weird, but I found Dark Messiah’s setting and story to be a lot more compelling than Dishonored, but maybe that’s just because Sareth actually had a personality in the game, unlike Corvo.

          • Eric says:

            Never underestimate the power of Bethesda to take something interesting and make it uninteresting, generic, boring and insipid. :)

  9. Thomas says:

    Chaos system aside, that was a seriously disappointing ending cutscene. I applaud that they chose to do the final assassination in-game and let the player deal with Havelock however they want without cutting to a final cutscene when he reaches X health, whatever…

    but that means there was absolutely nothing signalling ‘this is the end of the game’ no emotional climax. A two lines conversation with Emily that doesn’t have any real emotional connection and then a really short cutscene which does ramp up excitement or fill your mind with possibilities or…even really do anything? It felt like someone saying ‘you can go home now’

    If you’re not going to have a cinematic cutscene, you still need something. A climatic section of gameplay or an emotional summary of the journey so far. Something.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I made a joke in the hangout last night that it would be funny to have Corvo take Emily to her senior prom in an epilogue, and then I thought some more about it.

      I realized that a nice, playable epilogue that shows you what happened in the aftermath would’ve been greatly appreciated. It may even be able to add some, desperately needed, character to Corvo and his relationship with Emily.

      • Thomas says:

        That might actually work. Dishonoured is so deliberately uncinematic and also unstructured gameplay ways I’m struggling to think what they could do as an ending for the game and maybe some little playable ending section is exactly what it needed

        • newdarkcloud says:

          For a game like this, that’s probably the best way to go. A simple epilogue segment or, better yet, an epilogue mission that changes depending on Chaos.

          In Low Chaos, it’ll be a simple mission to deliver a message or pay off some aristocrat. In High Chaos, it could be another full-fledged assassination, showing that your influence on Emily over the period of a few years did change her slightly, even if she’s roughly the same person.

          Or even a little scene in Dunwall Tower that let’s players explore the whole tower, talking to people and finding out the state of Dunwall.

          An interactive epilogue would’ve been the best way to do this.

      • Phantos says:

        I’m not surprised Dishonored just re-used assets in a diorama with a quick voice-over. As developing games has become more badly mangled by corporate idiots, er I mean expensive, one of the first things to get chopped out are endings. Too often we get this epic, sprawling, 10-30 hour experience, and then an “ending” that lasts as long as a fart. Because they spent so long making the game that there wasn’t enough time or resources left to wrap it all up nicely.

        Before we know it, we’ll be back to the NES days, when all we got was a single, static screen congratulating the player and telling us to buy the sequel.

        …Oh, too late. We’re already there.

        • anaphysik says:

          …Oh, too late. We’re already there.

          #DeadHorse, but: http://img62.imageshack.us/img62/3258/masseffect3finalmessage.jpg

        • Viktor says:

          I actually really liked the Halo Reach ending. Giving you an unending unwinnable battle was a really nice, and was a really good way of making you feel as desperate as the character. The static shot of your helmet wasn’t the ending cutscene, you getting torn apart by elites, culminating in a cutscene where you lose your helmet, that was the ending.

          • Thomas says:

            If they wanted to tell high chaos people to ef off, that would have been a more interesting way to do it. It wouldn’t work for the high chaos ending though, I can’t think of what type of gameplay they could throw at you for a good finish that can be ghosted and is challenging even with blink/time freeze

            • PossiblyInsane says:

              For a climatic high chaos gameplay ending, how about an ongoing war between the guards and literal seas of rats and weepers? You could ghost around by keeping to the rooftops/sewers/side alleys, dodging tallboys and rat swarms on the way, perhaps with a few outsider followers like the torturer thrown in to challenge time freeze and some overseer musicians behind the lines and at checkpoints to make blinking tricky.

        • krellen says:

          Oh my god, that monologue was almost physically painful to listen to. But then, we already knew writing was not a priority for game developers.

      • burningdragoon says:

        I wish a lot of games had some form of playable epilogue.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        Why, though? Players will just use the extra playtime to jump on people’s heads. I think it would, if anything, cheapen the ending.

  10. Gruhunchously says:

    This has been bothering me for quite a while, but how can a game with a cast that includes Susan Surandon, Zach Hanks, Kristoffer Tabori, Michael Madsen, Roger Jackson, Lena Headey, and Chloe Moretz have such flat overall voice acting? Why bother hiring all these big names if your not going to use them properly?

    Also, one of the writers seems to be Terri ‘SHODAN’ Brosius,which is a pity.

    Anyways, great season guys.

    EDIT: Also also, TUN did a video a while back about Choice and Consequence that seems pretty relevant to the discussion of this game.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I still blame the direction. So many well known and skilled VAs with such flat performances have to be a result of the direction.

    • Hieronymus says:

      “Why bother hiring all these big names if your not going to use them properly?”

      Because “Bethesda Softworks” is on the tin. They have a reputation to uphold in this area, and all of the developers under them fall in line when they put a bit of stick about.

  11. Harry says:

    Apologies if this has been done already, but let’s make a thread here for how each of us would personally like to improve the Outsider!

    Me, I’d have him really EMBODY the idea of a Trickster God. I’d want the player to never really pin down what, exactly, he is – he should be constantly changing appearances, shifting from looking like (say) the late Empress, into a writhing mass of rats, into a vast mix of whale and Cthulhu. Hell, even throw in the Outsider’s current form in there, if you want. Ideally, his transformations would somehow reflect the topics he’s expositioning about, and they would be sudden, violent and off-putting. And I’d get the voice actor to give him a frustrated quality – to convey the Outsider’s boredom with the world through pent-up, subtle anger, lurking beneath the enigmatic surface, rather than through simply sounding bland.

    I think that’d make the Outsider seem much more unpredictable and dangerous, and wouldn’t even cost a lot more to pull off (they already have character models for the Empress and for rats, after all). What would everyone else like to do with him?

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I’d like him to never be seen. I think it’d be cool to have him as this all powerful force that communicates with you directly, speaking in your head. Once you see this emo-goth boy instead of some all powerful god, he loses much of his bite.

    • MetalSeagull says:

      Perhaps he’s not a trickster so much as an avenging spirit of slaughtered whales. Either way, he’s far too young. He should be older and battle scarred. I’d like to see him prodding you in one direction or the other. Maybe even using a bit of reverse psychology, especially if we could see more of how he’s abandoned or betrayed his prior followers.

      There is one difference in them and you, though. Granny Rags, Piero, and a couple of other characters mentioned in passing seem to have sought him out. They wanted something from him, whereas he wants something from you. Too bad he never lets on what it might be and whether he got it or not.

    • IFS says:

      I liked his shadowy figure appearance from the “tales of Dunwall” vids, and I think it would be more interesting to see him doing more than just talk to you occasionally. Find notes of people driven to strange actions by his whispering runes, piles of seemingly nonsensical schemes towards various occasionally contradictory schemes. Make him seem like he has just piles of gambits playing off each other, or that he’s operating on a level that you can’t glimpse, all for the cause of making things more interesting.

      • Nick says:

        That’s already in the game – lots of the runes and bone charms have notes from people about their haunted dreams, or desperation in the plague and trying to appeal to the Outsider for help, and several that clearly went outright mad

        • IFS says:

          Yes but they never do anything, they just sort of wander around muttering to themselves, or you can find a corpse of some guy they murdered. It’d be interesting to actually see them in action to an extent is what I’m saying.

          • Nick says:

            Oh right, like meet other people with Outsider powers and optionally work with them to accomplish objectives – maybe even make the whole Chaos system more of a choice between trying to keep the system intact or bring it down as the Outsider cheers you on

    • Syal says:

      Make him a shadow that gradually fills in with parts of the game’s assassination victims, starting with the Empress’s heart. Every time you kill someone the Outsider shows up with a new body part or recognizable accessory, or if you spare everyone he remains a shadow for the whole game. Might lend credence to killing your targets being high chaos, as it makes the Outsider appear to be getting stronger when you do.

      And make his voice shift between the victims.

      Optional is giving him furniture made of dead guards and other NPCs.

    • I’d like to see them steal from Supernatural and use the trickster the brothers encountered. The Outsider would be far more awesome if he were (attempts to think of Victorian-esque bizarre tabloid stories and fails, decides to go modern) using Corvo to have frat boys abducted by aliens and probed, or getting people killed via alligators in the sewers.

      That might be a bit complicated to set up, but come on, who wouldn’t love to instigate death by alligator or alien?

      But really, I just want a better Outsider, an alligator gun, and the ability to have aliens use tractor beams to abduct people while they desperately cling to their telescopes. Wait, that last one I’ve done (in a game anyway), and it was AWESOME!

    • Decius says:

      The outsider should constantly evoke cognitive dissonance.

      In different ways.

      • Ryan says:

        Definitely this. There should be a real disconnect between the way people talk about this mysterious trickster-tempter-devil, and the charismatic, persuasive, seemingly benevolent guy who gives you all these awesome powers and encourages you to have fun using them.

    • Ryan says:

      I think the Outsider would be much better if he was more personable- I’m reminded of an early trailer where he shows up to you while you’re in jail and is pretty much “Life sucks, these people are dicks, have some superpowers”.

      I think that if I was heading up the story team for Dishonored, I’d have focused more on an inner conflict between Corvo’s desire for revenge against the Lord Regent and his desire to keep Emily safe. Now of course for that to work the game would need to give you considerably more time to empathize both with Corvo pre-jail and with Emily- actually, taking some pages out of Assassin’s Creed II’s earlier levels wouldn’t be amiss. Make Corvo’s relationship with the Empress not a gigantic secret the game keeps from the player, give you more time with Emily, let you see how great a city Dunwall was under the Empress’ rule and how well off Corvo was as bodyguard. THEN have them take it from you and lock you in jail.

      Cue the Outsider, who isn’t just a boring semi-smarmy arms-crosser, but a dynamic personality who seems to really empathize with Corvo’s plight, then tells him “This sucks, the people who put you here are dicks, have some superpowers.” Corvo breaks out of his own accord via his new magic hand, and is guided to the conspiracy by the outsider.

      Throughout the main game, the player’s choice of lethal/nonlethal isn’t treated as some arcane good-and-evil-morality-except-not-really-except-it-kind-of-is. Chaos rating as it relates to spreading the plague is obvious and made really clear to the player: anything that increases the spread of the plague is chaotic. The awesome flashy powers are still lethal, while nonlethal play is still more in the vein of classic thiefy stuff. The conflict in deciding playstyles is essentially choosing between the conspirators’ desire to restore Dunwall’s glory and the outsider’s insistence that these people really, really deserve to die. Throughout, the outsider takes an active role, talking to Corvo often, maybe letting him know exactly why that guard he chose not to kill was an absolutely awful person, and wouldn’t-you-like-to-use-these-cool-powers-to-do-something-about-that?

    • Nimas says:

      I wish they would have taken a page from Aries in Sinbad-Legend of the Seven Seas.

      Not character wise, though she is more interesting then the outsider (not a hard feat) just the character design. The way she morphs about, the way she moves. Really would have made it so much more interesting.

    • Humanoid says:

      Cheating a bit, but I’d eliminate having the Outsider, the Heart and the mark as being distinct entities and just have them as a singular concept. You awake and discover this ….thing on your hand. You have no idea what it is, or where it came from.

      I’d retain the voice of the Empress for it in all guises. Is it an outside or an insider? Cast some doubt whether the voice is an external one. Is your hand the one speaking with you, or it is merely a proxy for an otherwise silent being?

    • guy says:

      I’m halfway seriously suggesting making the Outsider Haruhi Suzumiya from the anime of the same name.

      In general, I think it would be a vast improvement if the Outsider outright embraced the “doing it because it’s interesting” piece of characterization. Have the Outsider encourage you to go on stabbing sprees, chuckle gleefully over the special kills and burst out laughing about the Heretic’s Brand, grumble about ghosting the level without taking down guards, and “liven things up” by triggering a pitched battle between platoons of guards and Weepers on a mission that the conspirators alleged would be easy, then make it up to you later by blowing out a layer of heavy automated security around Dunwall Tower.

      If the Outsider is doing this for his own amusement, there should be at least one possible combination of actions that result in him being amused.

      You could replace chaos with a two-axis outsider opinion system, rating both how much the Outsider likes you (Higher means both more spicing things up and more helping you out) and how much you’ve impressed him with stealth vs. combat that controls what sort of monkey-wrenches he throws at you.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        Hmm….. It might be challenging in a lot of ways, following the Suzumiya model too closely. Suzumiya-san’s particular thing isn’t so much a “Do this because it’s interesting” but rather more of a blanket presumption that OF COURSE you’re going do the interesting thing instead of otherwise, and her superpower is more or less that others take little to no convincing to go along with it. If she needs an expensive video camera to make a movie, and you own one, the possibility of you NOT loaning it to her is too remote to even be considered, and the choice you have is whether you’re going to hand it over or whether you’re going to volunteer to be the guy holding the camera at her direction. That works for the series because all the rest of the group are only partly susceptible to Suzumiya’s superpower; they have their own, even if it’s only “be aware that Suzumiya’s reality isn’t how everyone else behaves”.

        The nature of that, though is that Suzumiya is the protagonist, then. She’s the one that’s making the decisions, and the rest are merely trying to keep up. And that makes a very different kind of game, one where the player isn’t protagonist, or it’s gonna change how the whole theme plays out, with your revenge-taking the goal and everybody else (especially your allies) trying to mitigate how flashily you achieve that, more or less without the possibility that you won’t achieve it.

    • Explodian says:

      One of my favorite things about Dishonored’s setting is the vast, threatening world outside the empire, full of places and beings that no one fully understands. There’s the seemingly magical properties of the whales, the mysteries of Pandyssia…and humanity is confined to a little archipelago in the middle of a vast, bottomless ocean.

      I’d have the outsider reflect that mystery and menace in some way. Maybe he could drop hints about whatever was out there, or elaborate a bit on his own goals. Basically, it seems like the character was included to hint at bigger things going on, but instead he’s just some guy who shows up at random times to act smug.

      I’d also have his appearance be less human, somewhere in the uncanny valley. Even the concept-art version where his face streaks and blurs as he talks would be an improvement. The Outsider is the most boring-looking character in the game, hands down. It’s like the artists thought giving him black eyes would be enough to make him unsettling and creepy, and just drew a smarmy teenager around them.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Tony Jay as voice actor. I know he’s dead, but giving The Outsider that voice was my immediate, visceral reaction on how to improve him.

    • I have a thing for mysterious, omnipotent figures. The cinematic trailer really had me looking forward to the Outsider.

      The introduction at the beginning, just over 30 seconds from the time he appears to the time he leaves, painted the most vivid character in my mind. To me, his voice said it all. Here was a [man[?]] who had all the power, all the control, and he knew it. He loved what he did. He was cocky and care-free, always doing things on a whim because because he could, because why not? because it was interesting. “And to make things interesting: my mark. Consider it… a gift” He struck me as so nonchalant in doing this, yet almost as if he was holding something back that he knew.

      Why was he choosing to help you? Because he had some mysterious agenda of his own? Because it amused him? A mixture of the two? HECK, WHO KNOWS? Would we ever find out? Pfft, MAYBE.

      Then I met him in the actual game and I was so, so disappointed. His appearance? Unimaginative and lackluster. His voice? Flat. His roll? Practically nil.

      This character wasn’t what I expected or wanted. I wanted the Outsider promised in my mind from the trailer. So throw in what I just talked about and have that trailer voice and personality which conveyed that imagery; hint and maybe show snippets of what he’s done, or what he can do.

      As for appearance, I would say one of two things need to happen: keep him to the shadows and always moving around, or if you’re going to show him, please try and be imaginative or clever in how you handle it. Valve managed to take an old guy in a business suit make him distinctive, other-worldly, and off-putting, so I know it can be done.

    • False Prophet says:

      A bit of a cheat, but have him talk through random NPCs. You’re walking down a street, and suddenly one of the beggars addresses you in the Outsider’s voice. You’re in the Golden Cat, and one of the prostitutes talks to you with the Outsider’s voice. At the Boyle party, one of the masked guests–maybe also wearing a Corvo mask, suddenly speaks with the Outsider’s voice. Etc., etc. In each case, the Outsider only drops one or two cryptic lines, and once done, if you try to follow and talk to that NPC again, they talk in their regular voice (or possibly just vanish without a trace while the camera’s pointed in a different direction?).

      This obviously requires a better-directed VA for the Outsider, but it saves them having to create an “evil Bieber” character model.

    • Scourge says:

      Or alternatively, you walk along a street, thinking nothing, or you try to sneak up behind a guard. Suddenly you are drawn into this shadowy world and the outsouder speaks through the body of the guard, sharing information or whatever. Or perhaps you find a shrine and a corpse and suddenly the corpse is talking ‘I lived here. For so many years. For so long I lived and helped my friends. And then they killed me! LEFT ME FOR DEAD’ *pause* ‘That is his history at least. And you. You have killed so many. How are you any different?’

      And then, swoosh, you are back where you were. The guard may be gone. Or maybe he is still there, who knows. Was it all in your imagination? Were you truly in a different plane?

  12. steves says:

    The outsider was a bit pants, can’t argue with that – tricksters should definitely be more charismatic! And maybe actually ‘trick’ you occasionally.

    Whilst Dishonored lacked a certain something in the story/character department (although I *cared* about Emily, that was done well), it was one hell of a game.

    Nothing I can remember in first-person perspective has ever captured the sheer joy of super-powered movement and deadly power so well, with absolutely sublime controls & feedback.

    And that’s before you get into the exploration, gloriously creative destruction, enjoyably unrealistic sneaking, and the amazing art design.

    Also, my ending (playing as a low chaos goody-two-shoes for the most part) involved nearly all the antagonists having already killed each other, and the last one standing being so paralysed with guilt/regret as to be a total pushover. Which certainly beat my expectation of a crappy bullet-sponge boss fight, so that was good!

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Well, the trickster god is tricking Corvo. He’s giving Corvo the tools to get his revenge, and in the process allowing Corvo to inadvertently bring down the Empire.

      It’s just that it isn’t well implemented, the effects are totally removed from the causes, and the story is so bare-bones that it never seems to feel like a real thing, rather than just the developer messing with you.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Yeah. THAT would’ve been interesting. It would’ve been cool to have that come up a few times in the story.

        But the Outsider not important to the story at all. He comes in, gives you magic, and then NEVER shows up again. It’s strange.

        I’d be even more interesting to have a Low Chaos ending, where the Outsider monologues about how you ruined his plan to sow Chaos in the world and how you succeeded in not abusing your powers.

        • arron says:

          I think that wouldn’t have worked. Given that the Trickster God is basically trying to shake things up through adding chaos to the system, he knows that your path will already do that through destroying the empire or saving it. So he wins either way.

          A trickster is also someone who is dependent on luck and chance. And so if he complains against your actions, it would suggest that he’s invested in the outcome, rather than rolling dice and letting the actions play out. This defeats the need for an impassive observer who just enjoys poking and prodding the material world to make things different through agents with both need and desire to use the tools that they’ve been gifted with.

  13. newdarkcloud says:

    Next season of SW: Tomb Raider!

  14. Neko says:

    While I agree that the end fight with Havelock pretty much ends the game on a whimper, weren’t we also praising the game for allowing the player to simply assassinate Doud and bypass a boss fight which would be cutscene-enforced in any other game? The only problem is, Havelock doesn’t have any cool powers to make the fight go longer if you choose to duel him and it’s a pretty bad location to set things in if you’re aiming for a climactic, protracted fight scene.

    The thing is, with Corvo being as superhuman as he is, I’m not sure how you could make the final encounter last longer without giving Havelock some sort of immunity to death. Maybe he and Emily take a Slow Elevator to the top, Breen style, and Corvo has to race the long way up through all the mooks?

    • Gruhunchously says:

      As goofy as the final fight was, I’d sooner have a brief excahange of blows rather than a typical cutscene followed by an artificially extended boss fight with Havelock the damage sponge followed by another cutscene. It fits with the free-form ‘realistic’ nature of the gameplay.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Agreed. This is preferable to a bullet-sponge boss.

        Remember the pope at the end of AC2. Do you really want that again?

        • nerdpride says:

          That was terrible. They just kept hitting him and hitting him, one at a time because the AI was methodically bad, and he would taunt all assassins present. And then the fat guy didn’t die anyway. How do you escape a dozen assassins encircling you trying to kill you?

          And that wasn’t even the penultimate thing. He survives the fight at the end too. Talk about railroad plot armor.

          ->never play AC again.

    • Phantos says:

      I don’t envy the developers. They seem like they painted themselves into that corner with Havelock.

      This way, it’s a bit of an anti-climax. But if they gave him mutant superpowers and turned him into an inexplicably “Gamey” boss fight, then it would get the same reaction Bioshock did.

      Maybe Doud should have been the Big Bad?

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        The emotional closure from fighting Havelock doesn’t need to come from fighting him. The fight can still be a one-stroke battle. What is needed is the confrontation. They were able to include that in the Doud fight, when he begs for his life.

        Something like that was needed for Havelock, too.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          We again come to a problem here. The game uses the Outsider powers to justify Daud’s quick escape, which initiates the begging for his life.

          Havelock is just a dude. Having him retreat mid-battle would feel too awkward.

          • SKD says:

            They could have easily justified an increased difficulty Havelock battle. They have already established a method of negating Outsider powers with the music box. As well, Havelock is supposed to be an accomplished and experienced military man. Having negated your Outsider powers he should be able to put up a decent fight. If they feel the need to add a bit of damage sponging all they need to do is give him some form of body armor, maybe have him wear a chain mail shirt or breastplate.

            • Nimas says:

              This could have actually worked. Having Havelock constantly surrounded by multiple music boxes playing could have really upped the paranoia. Maybe not for low chaos (as he seems to want to die in that version), but for high chaos, having him basically stare at a door with music constantly playing really could have worked thematically.

              And then you might have given the player the ability to turn the music boxes off, one by one. Havelock going crazier each time another falls silent.

              • guy says:

                Probably the best bet would have been to rewrite things a bit to make Martin the end boss. He is, after all, the High Overseer, head of the anti-Outsider theocracy that developed the music boxes, and the Heart mentions he once laughed in the Outsider’s face. His motivation could have been fear that Emily was being influenced by the Outsider, given how she kept a Rune under her pillow and all. He could even have Outsider powers like Daud; with the added backstory that he was once young and stupid and got himself a Mark and a bunch of runes and now he’s trying to atone for all that, but he’s still immune to poison and resists Bend Time.

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              No.

              Just a personal opinion but I respect the game much more as it is, where it consequently lets me use the tools I’ve been given and the gameplay that I’ve liked rather than do the usual game thing of “we need a boss fight here.” Again, this is a case of varying mileage but to me if we went in that direction we might as well just go the whole way and have Pendleton brothers in a huge steampunk mining robot (because they own a mine) where you have to dodge the blows of its giant arms and other such tropish foppery.

      • Vect says:

        Now I’m thinking of Havelock turning into Senator Armstrong from Metal Gear Rising.

        “WHY WON’T YOU DIE!”

        “The Outsider, son!”

    • Humanoid says:

      It’s probably not so much missing a final fight as much as missing a final exchange. Personally I don’t mind it, but others may be left unsatisfied given the last time you met, he was gloating over your dead body, and now you see him for a few seconds then …lights out.

      Would more people prefer something like say, the VtM:Bloodlines final encounter with the prince instead? Still no final fight (though a boss fight just before it, granted), but you could say it’s putting an epilogue on the relationship instead of just severing the cord.

  15. newdarkcloud says:

    For reference, this is scene that would have played if Josh chose to let Havelock kill Emily.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkvMEjvjHvk

    • Thomas says:

      That ending namechecks chaos directly instead of morality! Who wrote this? How can you have two endings not only written to contradict each other, but contradicting each other about what one of the central game mechanics was about!

    • Gruhunchously says:

      It hurts! He’s so boring!

      • newdarkcloud says:

        He’s so boring that the sheer lack of interesting things about him turns around and becomes interesting in and of itself.

        • arron says:

          That’s just the point though. For a creature that is the interface between humanity and endless changing, born from the void – why would he have any structure at all? For there to be memories or personality would suggest an ordered individual. Passion would indicate order as well, some state of feeling.

          The more I think of the personality of the Outsider, it makes me feel that he’s more like the grim reaper. An unempathic servant of a higher power that has been given the power to do a single function. He’s not free, or doing this by choice. He’s a puppet of that which gives him form.

          I think that his voice under the circumstances is actually quite apt compared to a lot of the voice acting in the game. I don’t think that I’d want someone who seemed to be giving the impression he was enjoying his work. I’d want him to say things like an alien who was trying to understand humanity but without any chance of having an emotional connection to them.

          The fact on one ending he mentions about “having a lovely time” it’s the sort of thing that someone might come out with in an attempt to endear themselves to someone rather than an expression of joy or enjoyment. And that’s because he doesn’t have that capacity at all.

          • PossiblyInsane says:

            That’s an interesting interpretation of his character. It reminds me of the G-man in Half Life 2. However, part of the reason others find the Outsider so boring and frustrating is that the player is overexposed to him. The G-man seldom speaks to Gordon Freeman, and when he does he really seems unfamiliar with speaking.

            The Outsider, on the other hand, ambushes the player almost every time they find a shrine or have a nap. His delivery is quite calm, verbose, and incessant. He may not start with much social interaction experience, but by the end of the game he has a lot of practice on Corvo.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I actually rather liked that one. Seemed thematically appropriate, we got the confrontation with Havelock I as talking about up-thread, and even the Outsider’s monotone begins to sound appropriately creepy and villainous rather than dumb.

    • anaphysik says:

      That was actually the very first bit that I’d heard from the Outsider (that first line, that is), and it sounded really good when I first heard it. And know what? It STILL sounds legitimately good. Politely manipulative and everything, works just perfect. It’s a shame that everything else in the actual main part of the game was just BORING, rather than either subtle or so far out as to mask his /true/ intentions.

    • Humanoid says:

      I like the idea that an apathetic Corvo can be implied to just have said “Yeah, whatever, this place sucks now” and buggered off to some other, nicer place.

      As opposed to what we got: “Yeah, Emily is now the ruler of some sucky place, but regardless of that, some undefined time in the future you die of old age or something.”

    • Theminimanx says:

      I’m curious, can you use the force push or whatever it’s called to fling Emily over the edge yourself? Because that would be the best Cuftbertian ending ever.

  16. AJax says:

    Well, another fun season wrapped up. Here’s a horrible suggestion for the next season of Spoiler Warning: Indigo Prophecy!

    But seriously speaking, have anybody here played Lone Survivor? Great indie 2D horror game reminiscent of Silent Hill. I wonder if it’ll fit the Spoiler Warning format.

    • GM says:

      got Lone survivor it´s a true horror and i´m stuck not knowing where to go next. a guy over the youtube recommended Metro 2033 i got and i recommend that too.

  17. broken_research says:

    Is it me, or does the credits soundtrack at 14:16 and beyond feel REALLY similar to Fallout New Vegas’ ambient music? I mean, before and a while after the music is very different again, but those chords sound eerily similar.

  18. I know who would be the perfect voice for the outsider/trickster god.

    At 1:27 Josh says “But it’s a rune….do you understand that?”

    And my instant thought was, damn, that tone/voice as the trickster god would freak folks out (for the right reasons).

    Josh, at moments do act as a trickster god *laughs*.

  19. Oleyo says:

    It really seems like one of the developers decided as a design goal that they absolutely would not have a morality system, but that no one could think of a good way to do it. They never got past the point of simply changing the name to “chaos”.

  20. Blov says:

    Having just played Dishonored the last week, I really enjoyed the game. The flexible gameplay also made for a really entertaining SW season.

    The Chaos system was really decent in my view from a gameplay perspective, in that it allows for fun densely populated murder-everyone sprees and balanced, doable stealthiness with less blockages. Doesn’t help that what affects chaos isn’t telegraphed (hence the whole cast complaining about the still poisoning earlier on, which DOES cause chaos but you’ve no way of knowing that from the game itself) and isn’t particularly sensible.

    I agree that the characters basically fell flat, which is a shame because most of them had promise and the story was so nearly set up right. Most egregiously offensive was the Outsider who was just miserably dull on every level. But we also needed a more sympathetic dimension for the cartoon villains in the first half so we’d have some incentive to keep them alive, a less stomach-turning variety of non-lethal options and a more dynamic handling of the conspiracy.

    For me, the game being a beautiful developed world (and just, stuff like the paintings, the corrupt 20sy aesthetic of Boyle Manor, the dystopian Victorian streets with the tallboys roving around and the big towers and pylons… absolutely gorgeous and it all felt like it fit together in one in-game universe) with incredible flexible gameplay, a load of interesting systems, promising worldbuilding and deliberate replayability was really enough to put it in the classic box for me. I’d really say that from a gameplay perspective it probably tops its two obvious inspirations (being Thief and Deus Ex) and the level design and aesthetics in general are as good as any first-person game I can think of (there are others which are just as pretty but are a bit flimsier from a gameplay angle and vice versa… I can’t think of anything that stands out to me as just clearly better either from a gameplay or aesthetic perspective).

    In short, I basically accept the criticism and the story and characters could’ve been executed much better, but I’d just rather have a game that did the story and character stuff badly and the game and environment stuff incredibly well than a hundred Mass Effect games.

    I mean, there’s a video on youtube with 30 ways of killing Havelock… when was the last time we got to see a final boss you could just mess around with absurdly like that?

    • Phantos says:

      …there’s a video on youtube with 30 ways of killing Havelock…

      Sounds like quantity over quality to me. Which would explain a lot of this game’s oddities(and at the same time, it’s better points).

      It’s not often video games get a double-edged sword like this.

  21. djshire says:

    Best duel EVER!

  22. rrgg says:

    On my high chaos run I made it to the final standoff with a whole bunch of explosive bullets left. So I froze time and fired them all at Havelock and Emily causing them both to disappear in a cloud of smoke. Once everything cleared up I suddenly got a prompt to save Emily and as it turns out, because that counted as a ranged kill, she was still alive and hanging from the ledge.

  23. WILL says:

    KotOR 2. There’s enough discussion about the game itself and its themes, but also its shortcomings and technical mishaps, while also discussing Obsidian itself and how vastly the writing differs in quality between KotOR 1 and 2, Obsidian and Bioware.

    It’s one of the last well written RPGs.

    • Wedge says:

      Sadly, I think the SW crew have said they can’t do the KotOR games because of technical issues getting video capture of the game. Which is really sad, because they’re two of my super favorite fun-time games.

  24. Phrozenflame500 says:

    Aw, no DLC? I was looking foward to that. Still, great season, I can’t wait for the next one.

  25. guy says:

    I’m going to repeat that it would have been hilariously better if the Outsider had been Haruhi.

    “Hey, Corvo, you’re not doing anything today, right?”
    “Uh, well, I was pla-”
    “Come on! We’re going to a party! Ooh, tallboys! Go on, get past them. Hey, do you think you can teleport up and stab them in the face?”

    Really, there’s pretty much nowhere better to go for omnipotent beings seeking amusement.

    Havelock is a pretty disappointing fight, really. I Blinked up to him and stabbed him in the face.

    According to the wiki, Carrie Fisher does the loudspeaker announcements if propaganda guy dies.

  26. Phantos says:

    Since people are talking about what they would change about the Outsider(and other parts of the game), I think that ending needed something. That was too brief, and like the rest of the game too empty of emotional investment.

    So I had a thought: What if the sole defining effect of the chaos/morality/whatever system was how Emily reacts to you when you rescue her?

    What if a playthrough where you’re merciful and relatively low-chaos has her run to your arms and be glad to see you(because she trusts you to be a better person than most)? But if you had a high-chaos, murder-licious playthrough she’s too afraid/disgusted with you.

    Maybe early in the game, she’d talk about killing criminals, in that way that kids can be too quick to judge or go to the extreme solution for problems too big for them to fully comprehend… but would change her mind once she sees how Corvo works. Maybe the blood on his knife would make her see Corvo in an uglier light, even if it’s violence against reprehensible jerks.

    “Stay away! You dishonour me!”

    • Nimas says:

      But then it moves even farther away from its aim: to NOT be a morality meter.

      Maybe if they made the chaos system overtly about your relationship with Emily (and actually given you one), then had the world chaos be a much more interconnected system of checks (how much do you steal, do you remove plague vectors, giving the people a true scapegoat for the plague, united in hatred and all that) that would therefore affect level design.

      So maybe you kill more people then you get more rat swarms, remove weepers you get more guards, steal things you get more weepers/and or looters.

      Really, what you needed was a voice for Corvo. Then he could discuss philosophy with Emily, basing that on how you deal with your targets and those between you and them.

    • Thomas says:

      So here’s the problem with giving people a bad ending for their playstyle, this applies generally to a lot of games and sections of games. People have already put 8+ hours into playing your game, they’ve gone through an entire journey, given days of their life.

      And then if you give them the bad ending, then what? All that time was wasted? They can’t go back and fix it without reinvesting another 8 hours. If you deliberately give people an unsatisfying ending after they’ve put all their time in playing your games, people are going to feel unsatisfied.

      Generally if you’re going to punish someone it should feel appropriate, it shouldn’t be final and ideally it’s in a very close span of time from them doing the bad action (unless the event is minor, like the recurring guy in DX:HR)

  27. Patrick says:

    In my low Chaos game I didn’t even bother killing Havelock. Just went past him and grabbed Emily. I was rather surprised when I instantly won the game – it’s even more jarring than the high-Chaos ending.

    I always wondered why the Outsider thought Sokolov uninteresting. I can say many things about ‘Ole Soky, but “Boring” is not a word which comes to mind. He’s a Mad Scientist Explorer Artist who allies himself to powerful figures to soothe his erratic love of power. He invents mecha-stilts, paints portraits of famous tarts, and drinks nasty liquor made with foreign hallucinogens, all the while trying to Dark Secrets of Blasphemous Magic to compel deities to do his bidding.

    I mean, I can understand the Outsider thinking him comic – just not boring.

    • Explodian says:

      Sokolov is a more interesting character than the Outsider by far.

      I would play the hell out of a game about younger Sokolov’s adventures on the Pandyssian continent. That would be amazing.

    • Chamomile says:

      In the Bizarro world where the Outsider is from, he’s a charming and fascinating personality and Sokolov is more boring than a paint-watching reality show.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I think the idea was to both reinforce the concept of Outsider as an alien being following its own logic and to also exploit the player’s sense of uniqueness by proxy to Corvo: “This guy who does all these things? Travelled to all those places? Invents all this stuff? Booooring. Now you, Corvo, you are so damn interesting.” It fails on both counts mostly because at this point the player has no real interest in either Outsider or Corvo.

  28. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Awesome season guys.The game really suited your playstile,Im glad you did it.

    You know,doing a week of filler and then jumping into bioshock infinite would be a nice move,seeing how diametrically opposite the two are.Dishonored has excellent gameplay,with bland characters and nonsense story,while infinite has crappy gameplay with vibrant characters and good story.Having the two back to back would highlight both the good and the bad in both.

    As for the outro song,I really love it.Yeah it has nothing to do with the game,but its still an awesome song.It made me sit through the credits,which I almost never do.

    • I have to admit that every time a game or movie puts a song (good or not) over the end credits that doesn’t in any way match the mood or previous music heard during the game/movie, I’m reminded of “I Never Even Told You” from the animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, performed by Tia Carrere.

      • Cinebeast says:

        Weird, I always thought that song fit great. It even had a smooth jazz feeling to it, akin to the 40’s aesthetic of the film.

        • It could be a matter of taste then, but I thought it clashed with the gothic choir for the overture at the beginning, not to mention the fact that the rest of the soundtrack had no pop-song vocals at all.

          As for the “smooth jazz” thing… I dunno. I wouldn’t have classified the song as smooth jazz in the first place, and it’s far too polished/synthesized for me to equate it with the 1940’s. Couple that with me not getting a ’40’s vibe from the movie, and that’s probably why I find it so jarring. I also own the soundtrack, and hearing the song after Burton-esque Batman symphony music just isn’t my bag. :)

    • Ringwraith says:

      The song is slightly jarring compared to the game, at least with regards to the setting, even though the lyrics themselves are appropriate.
      Dragon Age II is a good example of fitting a song into the setting of the game, as it uses a redone version of “I’m Not Calling You a Liar” so it doesn’t sound completely out of time.

  29. Nytzschy says:

    The Chaos system would have been much more interesting if it had a) had more factors and b) been expressed in different ways, like news about riots in parts of the city, rather than just some abstract rating.

    For instance, if there were more of an emphasis on cultivating allies vs eliminating enemies, there would have been a more organic way for the player to intuit chaotic vs orderly play. Better still would be the ability to court allies and neutralize enemies based on how the want to resolve (or perpetuate) the long-standing conflicts in the city. And if you do want to kill an enemy, being able to choose between methods like bombs, setting fires, or suffocating them in their sleep should matter.

    Who, why, and how should all matter, but as it is it seems like the only thing that matters is how many.

  30. Chamomile says:

    I think Emily’s going all evil is entirely justified. She’s a little girl thrust into a terrifying and clearly traumatic (in that we see her having nightmare about it) situation at the Golden Cat, and when her old friend/father/protector Corvo comes to save her and remove the dangers to her, he does so but murdering everyone who gets in his way. When she is rekidnapped by his previous allies, Corvo again comes to save her and, again, kills everyone. Lesson learned: Murder fixes everything.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      This could sort of work if Emily was like TWD’s Clem, constantly present either in person or in awareness of both the player and the PC, constantly engaged in and/or affected by events, having an evolving relationship with the PC (and ideally with others).

      Now, I’m not saying that Emily couldn’t “go bad” after all of this. I mean, just seeing her mother betrayed and killed could lead her down the line of thinking “if mother was more ruthless she’d still be alive, I won’t be caught off guard like that” under certain circumstances. But to me the disconnection between her and Corvo’s actions is just too big for them to make that much of a difference.

      • Klay F. says:

        I agree with that part. Its also pretty weird that Samuel goes out of his way to hide Corvo’s actions from Emily. But that scene is meaningless because she apparently instinctively knows when Corvo murders people or doesn’t.

    • silver Harloe says:

      My impression was that, from the game’s perspective, it works the other way around (digression: I’m going to substitute evil for high chaos, because the game works like that, even though it tries really hard to say it doesn’t):

      BECAUSE you are an evil person, you kill everyone – as in, rather than saying “you are neutral now, you become evil by killing everyone” it’s more of a measure of “I see you killed everyone, so obviously you were always an evil murdering kind of person.” And, in a way, this fits with how people look at things in real life – very few people say “M[rs] X became evil by killing people,” but they often say “obviously M[rs] X was evil, because s?he killed people.”

      Then it adopts a sort of genetics-are-destiny approach, and says: because she is descended from an evil person, Emily is evil, too (I’m taking “Corvo is Emily’s father” as canon). She doesn’t become evil because you killed everyone – that you you killed everyone was just a consequence of you being evil all along – and because you are her father (or maybe just a big influence in her childhood), then obviously SHE was evil all along, as well. She only seems nice at the beginning of the game because she likes you and you’re the only person she’s interacting with (notice at the beginning of the game, her attitudes towards other people aren’t really established – or, at least, I don’t remember that happening, I could be way wrong).

      • silver Harloe says:

        More on my second paragraph: The idea that you can’t change your nature is very prevalent in the culture I’m familiar with (which may be “American culture” or may be a subset of it limited to where I grew up and how I interpreted tv, I dunno. I’m insufficiently knowledgeable on that subject). For example, the writers of Dexter seem to take it as a given: no amount of good fathering, positive influence from having a family, or hanging around relatively decentish cops all the time can fix his sociopathy – at least according to the writers. For a more grounded example (and now I’m going to Godwin’s law MY OWN argument): ever notice the time travel question is about killing Hitler? It’s never about helping him have a better childhood, maybe with some Jewish friends (ideally, getting him a hot Jewish girlfriend or wife) so that he doesn’t go off on them. Because everyone assumes he was evil all along. More realistically, but also much more abstractly, there’s strong resistance in America to the idea of prison as a place for reform – because many, many people assume there is no reforming people.

        So, yes, I believe that even if they lack the self-awareness to realize it, the developers designed the chaos system not to judge solely Corvo’s actions on a given mission, but to judge the character Corvo has always had.

        Man, my argument is weak sauce, I really need some intermediate examples between a fictional character, Hitler, and a political argument, but I trust my gut, which tells me I’ve been ingesting the message of character-is-relatively-unchanging from all sides all my life.

        • Syal says:

          I’ve heard the time-travel question be about getting Hitler into art school before.

          But I like that idea; you aren’t influencing Emily with your current actions, you’re defining how you already influenced her in the past; you’ve always been a (good man)/(heartless bastard) and she grew up with that attitude.

          I kind of want to see that in a game now; you have your morality system, and the choices you make influence the flashbacks to your younger self throughout.

  31. X2-Eliah says:

    I just want to say that I absolutely enjoyed this season. I may have ranted in the comment section a bit more than was necessary, but those transgressions are more indicative of me caring so much about this game.

    Can’t wait to see the next SW season acting as the world premiere of GTA5!

  32. Dmatix says:

    Another great season. It’s odd, I’m usually the type of gamer that gives story top priority, but I didn’t feel just how lackluster the story was in this one until watching the season. I guess the fun gameplay kept me happy enough for me not to notice most of it (except for the really, really obvious betrayal). Anyway, thanks guys!

  33. MrGuy says:

    I am gobsmacked by the number of QA testers listed.

    Who are you, and what have you done with Bethesda???

    • Scimitar says:

      Bethesda only published this game, it was actually developed by Arkane Studios.

      So, uh, that’s what happened to Bethesda. Someone else made the game and then hired a proper QA team.

  34. Otters34 says:

    The guys who did that ending credits song(John and Daniel Licht) are actually some young up-and-comers to the video game music scene. Most famously they’ve done some of the music for newer Silent Hill games,(sorry Shamus!) not as good as the Yamaoka stuff, sadly.

    As for the season, this was easily one of your best ever. Josh got to have lots of fun actually playing the game and expressing himself by throwing bottles at people who had it coming, we had lots of interesting discussion about game design and characterization(BOO DULL OUTSIDER) and we saw Corvo kill a dumpster. An apple crepe out of strawberry turnovers.

  35. Cybron says:

    Excellent season.

    I usually fizzle out halfway through these things, but this one had great pacing.

  36. You should have called one of the episodes To Have and Havelock.

  37. Darkloch says:

    Maybe between the episodes Josh could finally finish Shogun 2? I want to know what happens!

  38. kdansky says:

    We’ve had a discussion about quicksaves. See, this video perfectly demonstrates how horrible quicksaves are. You fail at the super-important task of saving Emily? Well, doesn’t matter, F9 and literally 3 seconds later everything is fine again! Zero tension had, zero loss felt, emotions flat as a runway.

    And you guys still argue that this is a good design choice?

    • Thomas says:

      For Dishonoured, I think quicksaves were the right decision. Lots of routes and strategies so you can’t command pacing for it. And a lot of tools to do things differently so quicksaving lets your experiment. It should be a thing deciding on a per game basis than general rules.

      I do agree that quicksaves spoil the entire point of the Emily thing. But the Emily thing was stupid here (giving someone a bad resolution to playing the whole game because of what they did over the space of a few seconds isn’t good design) so quicksaving saved the designers from their own idiocy

      • Humanoid says:

        Would it help if the alternate resolution were made more desirable, so that it’s not necessarily a failure as much as a choice? Say, during his adventures, Corvo had discovered that legally he would be next in the line of succession should something happen to Emily? There’s little reason to pursue it other than curiosity or psychopathy, as even high-chaos Corvo, as I interpret it, is there because of expediency rather than lunacy.

        I had initially intended the idea to be mostly facetious, but really, the only difference between the bad ending and any of the other non-standard game overs is that it’s at the end. So functionally I don’t feel there’s much of a difference between having to reload because Emily died and having to reload because Corvo jumped on a guard’s head during the intro sequence, or because he threw a tank of whale oil at Piero.

        • Thomas says:

          If it were a choice then you’d still need to change it so that there’s a lot more time to make that choice. It’s the shortness and difficulty to avoid that’s the problem here.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      The lack of tension doesn’t come from the presence of quicksaves. It comes from the player having absolutely no stake in the outcome of the confrontation between Corvo, Havelock, and Emily.

      The game fails to establish a connection between those characters, so as a result it just kinda happens.

    • Shamus says:

      Would the game be BETTER if that failure had been followed by the player appearing at the bottom of the tower and forced to do everything again?

      Either we get a painless but consequence-free way to rewind, or we get a tedious and frustrating repeat of earlier content. Both of these are failure states from a storytelling perspective. The problem isn’t that quicksaves or checkpoints are bad, it’s that the player died at an inopportune moment and there’s no way to maintain the mood when that happens.

      For me? The break in immersion and loss of tension is all the punishment I need. Being forced to re-kill the previous 10 minutes of mooks just adds insult to injury.

      • kdansky says:

        Yeah, respawning at the bottom of the tower would be just as bad. I’m not talking about getting killed, which is always really impractical for a plot that dictates that the player character must not die. That’s a bigger problem than saving. Some games solve it well (Dark Souls, Mario, Torment), but the huge majority don’t.

        I meant the specific “save Emily / let her fall off” scene. If you could not save-scum past this possible failure, it would have a lot more gravitas. Sure, better characters would help too, but even if the characters are great, if they can be saved by pressing one button at any time, then they will always feel unimportant.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Again, the alternative solution to that is to make players go through a chunk of content a second time just to have another shot.

          I understand the problem you have, but that is more of problem with the medium than anything else. “Fixing” this problem, no matter which way you solve it, will just create a new set of problems. There is no solution.

          • Syal says:

            Thought I posted here already. Huh.

            The solution to Kdansky’s problem is mandatory autosaving after major choices. That’s the only way to prevent people from gaming them.

            • Humanoid says:

              And force-deleting *all* your previous manual and quicksaves? And also lock out the ability to force-terminate your game just before the autosave happens?

              By all means, implement an Ironman option, but making a wrong decision and wanting a mulligan isn’t the only reason for a reload. The only problem here is human nature, and it’s outside the remit of game designers to try to fix _that_ problem.

              • Syal says:

                I agree it’s not the best idea development-wise, but if you want to create tension from in-game choices that’s the only way to do it; either autosave after the choice is made or make the consequences so far down the road that players will have saved between the two.

                making a wrong decision and wanting a mulligan isn’t the only reason for a reload.

                …I can’t think of any others. Elaborate?

                • drkeiscool says:

                  Because some moron made the “skip dialogue” button the same one as the “choose dialogue” button.

                  Because a dialogue choice is completely different than what you thought it meant, and you didn’t say what you meant to.

                  Because said dialogue was so immersion-shattering that I brought up Task Manager and killed the program.

                  Seriously, fuck Horizon in Mass Effect 2.

                • Humanoid says:

                  Bugs/glitches of course, and also probably hardware issues (even trivial ones like your mouse battery running flat). Falling asleep/passing out at the keyboard, or being so drunk you destroy your savegame state. Being distracted by a pet or family member. Failing to hear a certain key dialogue and not being able to ask the other party to repeat themselves. Needing to rerecord a segment for a YouTube show because you forgot to turn FRAPS on.

                  Sure, you can argue the perceived validity of some of those and say it’s the player’s own fault, but really, is “oh no, my immersion is ruined because of quickload!” any better than “oh no, my immersion is ruined because I jumped when a spider jumped on my head and made me screw up”?

                  • Syal says:

                    Oh right, bugs and glitches. Those do suck. But assuming choices are set up correctly (i.e. in safe locations) then it shouldn’t affect the ability to reload for things like that, unless they mess up the save. (I’m picturing a game that has quicksaves that get overwritten when major choices and events are resolved.)

                    Dialogue would hopefully be readily available to read in a journal or something, but unless it’s part of a major choice you should be able to reload it, and if it is part of it it should happen before the choice is made so it can be reloaded. Any dialogue afterward should basically just be a confirmation that you did something.

                    Don’t play drunk. Drunk and distracted game playing is the leading cause of player character fatality.
                    (On The Bottle, Off The Game.)

                    • newdarkcloud says:

                      So without manual saves we’ve introduced a possible way to “Play the game wrong.” (ie. Playing drunk because it inhibits your decision making skills.)

                      This isn’t good. That’s terrible.

          • Thomas says:

            There would still be a much greater number of people who’d continue if they had to go back to a checkpoint, and repeating a lot of content (which you don’t enjoy too much) to get the correct ending does lend the event more weight than it had before

            • newdarkcloud says:

              Honestly, I’d do it, but I’d be extremely irritated by it. It’s not like I’m doing anything different than what I did before. I basically spending 10 minutes to do extra busywork in order to get to the choice again.

              That, to me, doesn’t add any weight to the choice. All it adds is frustration and irritation. Very few people like repetitious busywork.

    • Blov says:

      Suppose my counterpoint would be Alpha Protocol’s final mission – having save checkpoints weirdly interspersed in it and very badly signposted progression in the mission meant that if you took the wrong door, you were liable to miss out completely on resolution with a character unless you just replayed the mission from scratch or already knew the whole layout of the mission.

      Quicksaves in that last mission was the single biggest problem with that game by a huge distance. And that game had some really interesting problems.

      And yeah, I think if you were going to make the game not have any quicksaves, you’d need that whole sequence to be much more forgiving.

      • Thomas says:

        That’s not quicksaves though. You said the problem in you’re first line ‘having save checkpoints weirdly interspersed in it and very badly signposted progression’ if those problems were fixed then quicksaves would hurt the game more than it helps.

        It’s not like throughout most of AP checkpoints were less than one/two rooms away at any point in time. Functionally there is so little as to be almost nothing difference between AP checkpoints and quicksaving except that AP doesn’t let you save in combat sections.

        It even has a quicksave binding

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Keep in mind that Alpha Protocol’s level design is decidedly linear. In a game like that, it makes sense to have discreet checkpoints, because you can be absolutely sure where the player was at the beginning of a given area.

          Dishonored’s level design is non-linear. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Auto-saves/checkpoints don’t make sense because you have no idea where the player’s going to go, what they intend to do, and how they’ll do it. Those are far too many unknowns to plan checkpoints around.
          The only solution Dishonored has is to place many of them throughout, and at that point you might as well allow for manual saves.

          Another point, Dishonored advertises the ability to Ghost through every mission. There’s even a prominent “Don’t Get Detected” checkmark in the mission results screen. Imagine a player going through the game hoping to get Ghost every time.
          *Oops I got detected.”
          Game: “Oops. I just autosaves, ruining an hour’s worth of work that you spent not getting detected. I guess you can go fuck yourself because I don’t care about your time.”

          If you guys don’t like the manual saves, I understand. Then don’t use them b/c I want them.

          • kdansky says:

            Congratulations on getting through a level “undetected” when in fact you got detected five hundred times but due to the power of Quicksaves, it didn’t matter. Can it get any more shallow than achievements for cheating?

            How about we just give you a button that gives you all the achievements, because it’s really not a challenge any more with quicksaves.

            Pure entitlement speaking.

        • Blov says:

          Meant autosaves/lack of a decent quicksave function. Words hard.

          Alpha Protocol, despite being a very fine game and surprisingly influential in unexpected places (say, on Spec Ops: The Line), has that awful tendency to checkpoint save directly after important conversations, or immediately after anything that closed off the way behind you. It became very easy to just be locked out getting certain pieces of intel, and, in the final mission, the conversations which the entire game has been leading up to, just by walking through the wrong door, unless you were willing to redo the entire mission and lose immersion in another way by redoing every conversation so far. Similarly, if you just resign missing a key conversation because you can’t be bothered to redo the whole mission, not because you were particularly happy missing it, you’re not any more immersed.

          I don’t see how having quicksaves would exaggerate the problem. If you had quicksaves that final level would be much more tolerable, in that you could work around it by saving before going through a door if you were worried about being gated off. Save/loading necessarily breaks immersion a bit but I think that once a game goes beyond a pure challenge exercise, offering a good save system to the player really allows the designers to either be a little sloppier without causing players loads of frustration or to offer challenges more appropriate to the aesthetic and idea of the game (so, areas getting closed off by debris in AP’s spy thriller, or something like having Havelock try to jump here) which might conflict with wanting to achieve specific things in the game.

          There are games in which checkpoints or save points are basically fine, so Hotline Miami or Prince of Persia or whatever. They’re actually not too bad in Walking Dead. Once you have things like Alpha Protocol’s dossiers, upgrades and conversations which set up loads of different triggers, the checkpoint system becomes quite odd (AP, admittedly, really compounded the whole checkpoint save problems with the speed of the conversation wheel, awkward mission layouts, not keeping enough autosaves and obliging you to collect dossier info at absurdly inappropriate times if you wanted to see certain options, etc. etc.). Even the bits in your apartment leave you liable to do a load of stuff they could easily have recorded (say, answering emails, buying/selling) and then losing it if you didn’t load another mission before signing off. In a game like Dishonored having a robust save system makes it a lot more fun to mess around in.

          TL/DR: Having a robust save system in anything except an entirely linear game gives the devs more space to mess things up without really aggravating the player and also gives the player opportunities to mess around creatively without being punished. It’s dead nice.

          • kdansky says:

            Putting the autosave BEHIND the important bit was the whole point! When you can’t undo what you did, then it becomes an actual challenge. If there was an auto-save before, then it would be utterly pointless, like Mario with a respawn point in front of every enemy and pit.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Dear aspiring game developer / opinionated player. Please stop ruining my games by turning them into movies. Let me do what I want with the games I play in singleplayer mode. kthnxbai

  39. RTBones says:

    I enjoyed both the season of SW as well as the game itself. Writing/Chaos system issues aside, they got a lot right with this one. It is certainly worthy of a replay or two. I’ve not done the DLC yet, but that is in the queue. It would be interesting to read or hear (Die Cast topic?) the crew’s take on what is better/worse in the DLC vice the original game.

  40. Eric says:

    The ending to Dishonored is… weird. After the great final level, the confrontation with Havelock itself feels very disappointing and anti-climatic. It’s as if the entire game ran out of breath and the developers just didn’t have the will to give the game a fitting outro. Even the final vignette is weak.

    Regarding the Chaos system: I think it would have been better for the devs to scrap it entirely and instead focus on individual choices in the game mattering more. Dealing with objective X one way would have a consequence A, while dealing with it another way would have consequence B. The game already does this to a degree, but it’s a much more nuanced and reactive system than Chaos can ever be. Even Deus Ex having NPCs tell your character “good work!” or “you’re a monster” for killing lots of people felt more believable and less arbitrary.

    Dishonored is probably one of the strangest games I’ve played in a while in that it’s extremely solid mechanically and the level design is some of the best I’ve seen in years, yet the plot is so utterly bland – not bad, just bland. I’m not sure if it’s a failure in writing or it simply shows where the developer’s priority lay. I actually though some of the characters had some subtlety and intrigue to them, but they were played as flat as could be. Very odd.

    Thanks for another season of Spoiler Warning, looking forward to the next one.

  41. Otters34 says:

    Also, Mr. Young, dunno if you’ve already gotten lots of comments about this but the mobile/tablet background for this site is awesome!

    Just the right mix between color and whiteness. The dice stand out without being distracting, and the white backdrop provides contrast without being glaring or making it hard to read. Bravo sir!

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