Dishonored EP3: Your Stupid Dumb Face

By Shamus Posted Sunday Mar 3, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 114 comments

Link (YouTube)

Of all the problems with the game in the opening act, the shortcomings of The Outsider are the most painful. The entire concept of this story is excellent. Emily, the conspiracy, the outsider, Slackjaw, Daud, the strife in the city… this is great worldbuilding. We’ve got politics, intrigue, characters to care about, rivals to worry about, short and long-term goals, large and small-scale threats, justifications for magical powers that don’t immediately fall apart into “Why don’t they just use magic?” as a solution to every problem. All of this could have been fantastic if it had just been given a little room to develop before it was time to start shanking dudes.

But the outsider. The outsider needed a re-write and re-design. He sounds boring. His clothes are unremarkable. His haircut is boring. His goals don’t seem particularly ambitious. His face is ordinary. THIS IS A TRICKSTER GOD, NOT BLOODY MARTIN SMITH FROM CROYDON. We should be afraid of this guy. We should feel like he’s got us backed into a corner and we have no choice but to accept his “gift” and worry about what consequences there will be down the line. We should spend the game fearing an inevitable betrayal that never happens.

Instead The Outsider is somehow even more boring and flat than our silent protagonist. Tragic. What a missed opportunity.


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114 thoughts on “Dishonored EP3: Your Stupid Dumb Face

  1. Harry says:

    I think it’s very unfair to call the powers in Dishonored “boring.” They’re limited, because it makes sense mechanically; if the game allowed you to possess someone and do all the stuff you guys suggested, it’d make the game really easy and make Possession completely broken. The powers are therefore limited, but also – as Chris said – they interact with each other and with the world in just the right degree to allow the potential for using them in really, really interesting and imaginative ways. For example (spoilers for the entire game):


    The powers are *certainly* not boring, and I find it very odd to suggest as much when a lot of them are fairly unique and are mechanically interesting in a way we’ve not seen in first-person action games since the Gravity Gun, really. In fact, if I were to criticize the game, I’d go the opposite direction: the powers in Dishonored are so interesting that it makes the non-lethal route, where you don’t use powers as often, almost objectively boring by comparison.

    1. Asimech says:

      Just an observation, but “balanced” and “boring” have a bad tendency of going hand in hand. It’s usually the broken stuff that really brings in the joyous glee. I think I read a piece about it some time ago that explained rather well why, but I can’t remember where.

      The only really interesting bits in the videos were the “time stop -> possession -> walk in front of a bullet” and whatever that lavatory thing was. But the latter mainly because I don’t what happened there. If those videos are really the best cases for the powers not being boring, then they’re boring.

      Also it seems like Time Stop is already broken, I don’t see how giving more broken options would be bad. Especially since Possession as a concept should be a pretty obvious power for “broken funsies”.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I agree that the powers are not terribly exciting -the most interesting thing about that first video is the soundtrack.

        I am not, however, sure that this is a bad thing. The powers add an interesting and simple to understand dynamic to the game. This seems important to developing the emergent gameplay which is supposed to be the draw. The problems are 2-fold. First, the game punishes you for being creative, and second, the game continues long after the basic stunts get boring.

        The game either needed something like the “start fights” option to keep it interesting, or it needed more interplay between the powers and the environment to test the power-combining skills of the players.

        1. Asimech says:

          Yeah, to me it doesn’t seem like the problem is that the powers themselves are boring, it’s like you said: something is missing.

  2. Peter says:

    That Hitchhikers reference had me scratching my head for a minute to drag it up from the depths of my memory.

  3. Neruz says:

    In relation to the doc being said to be ornery but not actually acting ornery, I always assumed that was because he recognised a kindred spirit. He’s a mechanical genius, that much is not in doubt, and in Corvo he sees another kind of genius; albiet the killy assassination kind. That’s why he’s never particularly ornery towards Corvo; rather he sees Corvo as the perfect person to wield the tools he crafts.

    To anyone else he’s an angry ornery bastard, but Corvo is perfect for him, Corvo is the man who will take his creations and use them to their full potential and that is why he ends up having a fairly good relationship with Corvo and nobody else. They’re like two halves of a whole; he creates the tools and Corvo uses them.

    Also; I felt that the character of the Outsider was done rather well considering he is heavily implied to be the spirit of a whale. His hatred of humans makes perfect sense, but his sort of ‘blandness’ also makes sense. He doesn’t really care about humans, but they’re killing his kin so he’s willing to kill them too.

    1. Indy says:

      And then you take his awesome sword, never cut anybody with it and even lose it at some point where it becomes an optional objective. Excellent use of his tools.

      And really, I only saw him interact with Callista. He was crude around her, ‘un-gentlemanly’. But he kept his tone calm, nothing ornery about him. And he never interacted with anybody else. Wait, he interacts with Sokolov as well. Still not ornery.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Have you seen that sword? It would be a SHAME to bloody it.

    2. MrGuy says:

      If whales could hand out super powers, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down?

      We might, if they handed out super powers all the time, for no good reason.

      1. Thomas says:

        They should have made him look like a whale. And flop around doing Finding Nemo impressions as he gave you his powers. All I’m saying is it might have been more interesting :P

      2. False Prophet says:

        I haven’t heard a Jack Handy reference in years. Thanks!

        1. MrGuy says:

          It seemed appropriate. :)

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      According to the lore, Piero gets a lot of his ideas by having the outsider visit him in his sleep, much like what just happened to Corvo. It’s how he conceived the idea of the Death Mask.

      It’s possible that he can sense that Corvo is about to be a part of the Outsider’s plan or that the Outsider told him all about Corvo before they even met.

      1. NCB says:

        Considering it is “Piero’s spiritual remedy” that gives you your magic back I think it’s safe to say the Outsider already instructed Piero to help him (whether by directly telling him this or not), let alone he told Piero to make the mask.

  4. Naota says:

    For an ancient god of chaos, the Outsider sure is gob-smackingly dull (think on that one for a second!).

    He’s a chessmaster without a game plan – a trickster that doesn’t play any tricks. He’s an entity “neither good nor evil” with a worshiper base that consists entirely of crazed murderous lunatics and amoral assassins in gas masks and a history of nothing but aimless destruction.

    The guy shows up to grant people powers without any explanation, demand, or rationale given, then is content to do nothing but reappear now and then to comment on their actions in a passive, unilluminating way. Note that I use the word comment. Nothing he says drives anything – it’s merely a bunch of offhand observations that boil down to nothing more than “that’s a pretty interesting thing you’re doing, Corvo”. No revelations, no leading questions, no tricks, demands, or useful foreshadowing.

    Even if his only motivation is to watch an interesting “game” play out, the Outsider should be engineering events so as to make them more interesting in a narrative sense. On some distant level it should be he who is responsible for the Empress’s death, the spread of plague, Corvo’s betrayal(s), and Emily’s exposure to a very adult conspiracy of revenge.

    Perhaps he is the architect of all these things, and literally set the stage for a twisted drama with Corvo at the centre… but we’re never told this for certain and never see what anything would be like without his guiding hand, so the point is moot. Narratively speaking, a trick so good you never realize it isn’t much of a trick at all.

    1. Neruz says:

      Where do people get this whole “Ancient god of chaos” from anyway? I never thought the Outsider was anything other than something of an enigma, and later on the spirit of a whale. He doesn’t particularly care for the human world, but every now and then someone is interesting so he pokes them a bit to see if they can do more interesting things. His entire shtick is that he doesn’t really give a shit about the world, he’s just trying to find ways to amuse himself and Corvo, as an agent of chaos, is very interesting indeed.

      1. Naota says:

        To put it concisely, I feel he doesn’t do nearly enough poking for his ubiquity in the setting and its lore.

        As an agent of chaos, his only notable feat is granting people magical powers at random, then buggering off for large swathes of the plot. The granting of these powers doesn’t have a consistent message or logic behind it, nor does it make any kind of statement. It’s like if The Joker appeared in a Batman movie to hand some other villain a gun, once, then never did anything else of consequence in the story.

        As an enigma, he’s lacking those tantalizing hints and half-truths that make us care. Everything we do know has been told to us straight up front: “This is The Outsider. He is a god. He gives you powers. He might be a ‘leviathan’.” and we know absolutely nothing else. Thus, we have no framework on which to hang any proper speculation. A perfect mystery is too perfect to be interesting.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          A problem I had was another one where they “showed the monster.” With the Outsider, I should feel at the mercy of his powers and whims. Instead, I see someone who looks like he belongs in a Twilight fan-fic.

          I was never once afraid of him or felt anything other than apathy mixed with mild gratitude for the magic. Aside from his gift, he’s neither particularly helpful or harmful. He’s just there.

          So much wasted potential.

    2. MrGuy says:

      He's a chessmaster without a game plan ““ a trickster that doesn't play any tricks. He's an entity “neither good nor evil” with a worshiper base that consists entirely of crazed murderous lunatics and amoral assassins in gas masks and a history of nothing but aimless destruction.

      He is, in other words, Reginald Cuthbert.

      1. Naota says:

        Reginald Cuftbert on a drug/booze/injected stimulant bender, right at the point where he stops being able to move.

        Thus, he falls over in a heap and just… watches things burn.

      2. Pattom says:

        I read that whole post thinking, “Oh, so he’s brothers with the Illusive Man.”

        1. MrGuy says:

          Wait – so The Outside is ALSO the Illusive Man, and they’re BOTH Reginald Cuthbert? It all makes sense now! I CAN SEE THE MUSIC!

  5. Anorak says:


    It’s perfectly possible to complete the whole game without using ANY powers, as illustrated in the above video. Which goes to show – without the outsider, you possibly could have done it, but probably would have died at some point along the way.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      The “Oh dear, what an unfortunate accident” playthrough sounds really interesting. I’ll have to try it out.

    2. Raygereio says:

      This is technically incorrect. In the Dunwall Tower mission where you go to deal with the Regent, you need to use blink to progress. Granted, that’s the only instance that I’m aware off where you powers are necesary.

      1. Indy says:

        You have to use Blink in this instance of the Void as well. A couple of those jumps are too far. No other power provides so much mobility so none of the others are necessary (ala the achievement for a ‘no powers but Blink’ run).

        1. Anorak says:

          Using Blink in the void probably comes under the “Weird dream” bit. I suppose I should have said it’s generally possible to complete the Assassinations without powers. And yes, I suppose you do need to use Blink to kill the Regent.

  6. Naota says:

    On the Outsider’s presentation: just how much better was the depiction of him and his dream world in the third Tales from Dunwall than in the game?

    A lot better, I’d say. I’ll take a massive looming shadow figure without concrete size or proportion – a lantern-light phantasm made altogether too real – over… a man. A man in some clothes. With… hair on his head?

    A man so boring and nondescript that he doesn’t even strike a jarring contrast by being boring or nondescript in the middle of a floating dream void.

    1. Eruanno says:

      Oh yes! I watched those animated shorts before Dishonored was released and expected a mysterious shadow figure that was a combination of Loki, The Riddler and Death. All we got was… a dude. Dressed like every other dude. With a boring normal-person voice.

      Boo. Hiss.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        I was actually a little upset that The Outsider was given a face. Having him just be an oppressive voice in the dream would have been better.

        It would also have been better to make him more central to the plot, but whatever.

  7. Tuck says:

    There’s no point having a cutscene if the focus of the cutscene (in this case the Outsider, or later Havelock) is standing still and only moving one hand.

    If a cutscene is absolutely required, then have him moving about, side on, looking at other things than just directly at the camera, using his hands expressively — basically, acting! Looks to me like they were really pleased with their arm-crossing graphics and needed to show it off (it is better than any other game I’ve seen).

    Even better, don’t force a cutscene! Have the above, and allow the player to keep playing at the same time: think Dr Kleiner’s introduction and exposition in HL2. This has a side benefit of not inhibiting re-plays. I never re-played DE:HR because of the forced cutscenes, and I only got a short way into Metro 2033 because of the unskippable cutscene-piled-upon-cutscene non-gameplay segments.

    1. AJax says:

      Yeah, as much as I really like both games, both intros can last somewhere between 30 to 40 minutes. Though honestly speaking, I found both absolutely necessary for establishing the setting and the stakes especially in Metro’s case.

    2. NCB says:

      “think Dr Kleiner's introduction and exposition in HL2. This has a side benefit of not inhibiting re-plays. I never re-played DE:HR because of the forced cutscenes, and I only got a short way into Metro 2033 because of the unskippable cutscene-piled-upon-cutscene non-gameplay segments.”

      Skippable cutscenes vs HL2’s ‘oh you gotta stand there as they blabber on forever and you have to be stupid for the plot to progress in HL2’.

      With that being said, DE:HR and Metro 2033 are both amazing games, although unfortunately Metro 2033 has too much gameplay and not enough story for SW to even remotely consider playing it (although I’m hoping they’ll get around to Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines someday).

  8. Rem says:

    After seeing the start of the game, I’m really surprised at what little motivation it actually gives you to play. At this stage I would have put down the game for a few days.

    1. AJax says:

      My older sister who doesn’t game much had the exact reaction. She absolutely adored the direction and costume design but didn’t care much for the writing and characters. Her reaction to the Empress’ death was especially amusing. “Was this written by children?”.

      I still really like this game but the intro doesn’t hold up well upon further analysis.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        The story as a whole doesn’t really stand up to analysis all too well. It’s okay, but not particularly good.

        On the other hand, the gameplay is very fun. At least for me.

        1. SougoXIII says:

          It’s fun if you’re doing a high chaos play through. Sucks for you if you want to have fun with your powers and get the ‘good’ ending. It’s the reason why I can’t be motivated to come back to the game, the developers penalized you for using lethal methods even though that’s where the most ’emergent gameplay’s coming from. All because of the ‘you’re a terrible person for killing people in a video game’ sentiment.

      2. Loonyyy says:

        I stabbed the Empress myself. I wanted to Cuftbert it.

        But then the game takes the controls away from you and says “BAD! You’re meant to be accused of this, not actually do it!”

        Why? It wouldn’t change the world. The Loyalists wouldn’t care so long as you worked for them. The Regent would still be after you, and she’d be dead. The only one sidetracked is Doud, and I didn’t realise who he was until the last minute.

    2. Talby says:

      This is pretty much what I did… except I never got around to picking it up again.

    3. Humanoid says:

      The same for me as well. At first I chalked it up to XCOM, which I picked up the same day – I played the tutorial/opening of both games before deciding to stick with the latter – but I stopped playing XCOM in mid-December and I’ve yet to resume Dishonored.

      I can’t even blame the Outsider given that didn’t get to that part. Like it was for Corvo, the motivation to go on with it should be there if you look at the individual elements of plot presented (rescue, revenge), but it just doesn’t come together for whatever reason. My first thought upon attaining freedom was more or less that, as a foreigner to these lands, let’s just go home and leave this silly kingdom to its fate.

  9. MrGuy says:

    I think The Outsider plays especially badly with the choice to make you a silent protagonist. There are many opportunities where I’d like to confront him, have some dialogue with him, which would provide opportunities to develop his character (and yours).

    For example, I really, really, really wanted to put my knife to his throat as soon as I find out what Blink is. “Hey, I’ve only seen 4 men who could move like that before. They’re the ones who killed the love of my life. They work for you! Why shouldn’t I kill you right now?”

    I don’t expect to be able to kill him, of course. I expect him to escape using powers and laugh it off. But I also expect giving him the opportunity to answer reasonable questions the player has (or, for that matter, NOT answer them) would make him a better character.

    Also, giving CORVO a, y’know, reasonable human reaction would be a nice change of pace. This guy is not your friend. He’s the guy who got you into this mess in the first place. We know this. He knows this. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch your character’s silent acceptance of “OK, guess I’m working with this guy now.”

    I want to ask “Why should I trust you?” I want to see him smile and say “Maybe you shouldn’t. But if you want to save Emily, you won’t do it without my help.” Develop the pragmatic mistrust. Don’t let it lie there.

    But no. The Outsider gets to be the smarmy author-insertion commentator, who gets to say things we already know like they’re a great reveal when he’s not a deus-ex-machina tool for plot exposition. And we’re forced to be his silent, unquestioning, grateful-for-some-reason audience.

    1. Klay F. says:

      I pretty much despise personal interaction with any God or gods in fiction. Too many developers use gods as a license to just do infuriating nonsensical bullshit. Bethsoft is especially notorious of this, which, given the laziness of their plot-writers is no surprise. You are never aloud to question a god. You are never allowed to disobey a god, and even when you can, its ALL ACCORDING TO PLAN, I AM SO CLEVER.

      1. Raygereio says:

        Actually, when it comes to gods Bethesda are writing-geniusese as their gods can be used to explain awawy the glitches and bugs in their games.
        Corpses falling from the sky? Namire is trying to tempt you. Dragons flying backwards? Oh, that silly Sheogorath.

      2. IFS says:

        Oh yes, Mora’s quest in Skyrim annoyed me sooooo much. Do what he tells you? Ok yeah you’re his champion. Don’t do what he tells you? He does it himself, which fine whatever (although a god of knowledge, secrets and eldritch lore shouldn’t stoop to handle things in person imo) but then he declares you his champion anyways. Ummm… that’s not how a xanatos gambit works Bethesda… If the whole point is for ME to kill a guy and then YOU kill him then you have not succeeded. I haven’t played Dragonborn yet, where I hear he plays an extensive role, but I feel like they probably made the same mistakes there too.

        1. modus0 says:

          Yep, only they turned Mora’s ego up to 11.

          Which really bugged me with his last bit of gloating dialogue. The Last Dragonborn didn’t get involved to aid Hermaeus Mora at all, so he should act like you did.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      Again, this goes back to the question of why make Corvo a silent protagonist. If you want to either do a revenge story or a personal tale of redemption, having the lead be a blank slate isn’t exactly wise. It is bound to cause problems with the narrative.

  10. MrGuy says:

    Wah! The WordPress theme! It burns us!

  11. anaphysik says:




    What happened to the nice old site design? :<
    Why does everything look so butts-different (different = awful, obviously) now? :<

    Shamus, help, please tell me my eyes doth deceive me…

    1. Indy says:

      I was wondering the same thing. Did Shamus’ theme die?

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Im not sure why the silent protagonist worked in half life,but doesnt work here.I think it may be because you are locked into these conversations here,so you expect for your character to say something,but he never does.Meanwhile,in half life you had the full freedom to dick around while the people were talking.

    1. Naota says:

      I’d say it’s primarily because, for all the emphasis people place on him, Half-Life isn’t the story of Gordon Freeman. Sure he’s present when all of the major events happen and serves as a vehicle and point of view for the player, but his actual role is relatively minor compared to the voiced protagonists. He’s never called on to carry the emotional core of the story.

      Gordon’s emotions, personality, or character never play into the narrative, and the narrative never requires them to sell a certain point. Dishonored on the other hand… is titled after Corvo’s dishonor. It’s the tale of his revenge and how it changes his ties to Emily and the empress far more than it is one of Havelock’s conspiracy or Dunwall’s precipitous descent into corruption. From the very start it’s a premise that cries out for the development of its protagonist over the course of the story, and yet neither voice nor emotion has he.

      Lucky fellow.

      1. James says:

        Whats even worse is Corvo actually does have a background, he does actually have a character. It’s basically written in one of the many books you can find in the game, and when I read it was even more confused why they made him silent.

        Silent protagonists are engines of the present, they don’t exist in the past or the future- they cant because if they did then the players actions would no doubt clash with who the protagonists was or will be.

        They really should have had a look at Deus Ex: HR more when thinking on this. With Adam you can make choices but he also has his own things going along, and we became part of who he is- rather then merely imprinting ourselves onto him. This choice to have a silent protagonists drives me nuts.

    2. Nick says:

      It worked in the original half life only because for the vast, vast majority of that game GF isn’t talking to people. (Or rather, people aren’t talking to him)

      I actually got really annoyed by the whole silent protagonist thing in HL2 (in fact, it’s part of why I stopped playing it). But the main reason it works even less well in Dishonored is because Dishonored is focussed on intrigue. You know, that thing that involves a lot of conversations between people?

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      I’d say that it’s because HL is more about the gameplay than the story, but that could even be said of Dishonored, albeit to a lesser degree.

      Perhaps it’s due to the fact that Corvo isn’t really a silent protagonist. The fact that we have dialogue choice, if only between “Yes, I want to do X” or “No, maybe later,” implies that he DOES speak, making the lack of speech and inability to assert himself look all the more jarring.

  13. X2-Eliah says:

    Oh bloody hell Josh, please TURN UP THE BRIGHTNESS in the next week’s episodes. This whole vid is practically 75% invisible when not in sunlit outdoorsy parts.

    1. Jokerman says:

      I normally have to put the brightness up at the best of times for Spoiler Warning but this is crazy dark…so yea, i second this…

  14. Nonesuch says:

    I have to agree about the Outsider looking boring. I mean, with a name like that you expect him to be a bit more… I don’t know… nebulous?

    All that really happens is that it winds up looking like Dream got an office job and had to hack of 9/10ths of his hair. And the whole sequence really made it drag.

    1. Klay F. says:

      The more I think about it, the more I wanted Wes Johnson, (aka Lucien Lachance, Mister Burke etc.) to voice the Outsider. He’s one of the few genuinely good VAs in most Bethsoft games.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        The dude plays Lucian Lachance very well. I loved his performance. He really made the DB worth joining.

        Come to think of it, a lot of the best voice acting comes from that questline. It was the best in Oblivion.

        1. Klay F. says:

          As an added bonus, I’m pretty sure he played Sheogorath in Oblivion, Shivering Isles, AND Skyrim. I’ve already made my feelings known regarding the daedric quests in elder scrolls games, but even I will admit that Shoegorath’s voice acting is absolutely stellar. He is so far beyond the other daedric princes’ generic smugness its almost embarrassing.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            Sheogorath is my favorite of the Daedric Princes. His personality is just so awesome!

            1. Indy says:

              I am a fan of Bolag Mar(at least, I’m pretty sure he’s the one I like). I thought that quest in the house in Markath was amazingly well done (the only good part of that town). And the way he kept reviving the NPC was wonderfully evil. He got evil right.

  15. James says:

    On the Heart-

    It really is just a codex, but I think people are also quick to defend the story with it because it’s a much more interactive version. You have to actually find the person and point the heart and sit around listening to the empress tell you random things, it’s basically a scanner. I wouldn’t say there’s anything wrong with that, heck for a game it’s probably one of the better ways to display further information whilst still having interaction in the game (Rather then pulling up a wiki menu).

    On the other hand, I would say the heart and other codex like things create a temptation to use them as the only source of background information. Something that happens again and again in games is people will complain about a plothole, and then people will point out a specific thing hidden in the game that explains that plothole. But perhaps the question should be why is the story only rewarding the most meticulous players, and why they punish those who only want to play the main parts with plot holes.

    Anyway, back to the Heart. It’s mere existence means the writers have a cheap way of getting across deep information about a character. Which means they don’t have to go the effort of showing or revealing these character traits in the game. Which is this games main failing- Pendleton for example is quite possibly a depressed alcoholic, but other then taking a few sips of whiskey he doesn’t show any other signs outside his logs. If he had broken down and locked himself in his room, maybe throwing a bottle at the door if you try and open it, we would have instantly seen for ourselves he has a problem. But because they have things like the Heart and the logs the Dev’s don’t need to show it, so they don’t.

  16. tomvw says:

    You know Shamus, those guards aren’t throwing the bodies in the river but in barges parked under the bridge. Although they are dumping them in the sewers, so your argument does make sense.

    I have to agree though that the Outsider had so much potential to be a menacing, nebulous force with a certain moral ambiguity about him. As it stands he’s just a dorky looking vending-machine for powers, which is sad and disappointing.

  17. Astor says:

    Yeah, I was especially annoyed that he didn’t get mad or passive aggressive, or *something*, when he sees that mission after mission you behave without rising chaos in the slightest. He didn’t try to incite me in any way, he just delighted in my actions no matter what! Just a meaningless character to jerk the player off.

  18. Zoe M. says:

    That makes me want to come up with a new path for things.
    Say, you’re doing the first mission without powers. You walk into a little shop – perhaps the only place you can get to without said powers – and the Outsider is there, finishing the assembly of the heart. The Empress’ dead body is beside him on a table, so it’s obvious what it is. He turns around, attempts to give it to you, without saying a word, but maybe grinning madly. Tense/discordant music that you’ve never heard before in the background.

    You get extra chaos for just taking it then and there.

    If you don’t (just leaving through the opposite side of the shop), he randomly appears in alleyways and dark corners, with the heart, until you finally have no choice but to take it. (If for no other reason than that you can’t get past the electric barrier+army of guards without it)
    At that point, the game could launch into a training course, such as they ended up using, where he explains stuff. It would be nice if he looked and sounded different every time you saw him, with one distinguishing feature (Whale-like beard whiskers?)

    1. Michael says:

      Yeah, that would have been a real improvement. Unfortunately, I’m getting the feeling that doing just about anything would have been an improvement. Including taping a tazer to the the VA Director and activating it randomly.

      Though, having the outsider pop up randomly through the game, and interact with Corvo offering the heart or just his “gifts”, without explanation, would have made for a more interesting experience.

      On top of that, I can’t help but think that if you’re going to have an unstable being that doesn’t quite understand humanity as a character, and you’re going to have Brad Dourif doing voice acting, you’d have to be freakin’ mental as a casting director to not put those together.

      1. Bryan says:

        About the only thing I can figure in regards to casting is that they filled Piero’s role first, without thinking about the Outsider’s, then didn’t want the same voice actor doing both (and if that is the explanation, then I totally understand why). Or something strange like that.

        Or someone got *completely* confused…

  19. If this has been addressed before, I apologize, but I have to ask:

    What’s up with everyone’s freakishly large hands? It’s like they’re all wearing novelty latex gloves about an inch thick that are molded to look just like their hands, only bigger.

    1. Michael says:

      See, when Deus Ex: Human Revolution went around and shrunk everyone’s heads, the excess mass that was left over had to go someplace, and originally it was going to just give Corvo an absolutely massive noggin, but then something went wrong, and now all their hands are HUGE.

      EDIT: Honestly, I think it was just a design choice to make the melee combat easier to follow. The same kind of logic that lead to Bayonetta looking like a female Gumbie that someone tried to draw and quarter.

    2. WJS says:

      Because the game isn’t going for total realism? Everything has an exaggerated style, kinda like TF2 (only with a different shading style).

  20. guy says:

    I kind of liked the Outsider, really. He’s just randomly granting vast supernatural powers to people because he’s bored and wants to see what they’ll do with them.

    The Heart is pretty great for “Wait, WHAT?” moments, but it would probably have been better if the characters showed more personality so learning secrets about them was actually surprising.

  21. So, Josh: When you fell off of the floating rocks, I notice you tried to gravity-pull-whatever-power yourself back up by shooting the bottom of said floating rock.

    If it had yoinked you up to the bottom of that rock, what was the next step in your plan? :)

  22. Jarenth says:

    Huh. You know, I never really noticed the somewhat glaring problem with using the Heart on Havelock (or Martin, or Pendleton) until you guys pointed it out. Now, I’ll know it forever.

    1. IFS says:

      Clearly the Heart thought it was too obvious for you to have missed, so it/she didn’t bother to point it out?

  23. Bentusi16 says:

    The side characters are so much more interesting then the main ones. Well, maybe ‘side’ is wrong, but Granny Rags, Slackjaw, and Daud are memorable compared to the Outsider and many of the conspirators.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Daud is one of the best characters in the game by far.

      And I really did like the side-quest chains for Granny Rags and Slackjaw. Really interesting stuff.

  24. PossiblyInsane says:

    Possible mask ideas different from steampunk skull:

    Ceramic/metal mold of the Empress’ face, emphasizing your revenge for her death after good characterization of her and her relationship with Corvo. Also somewhat creepy.

    Ceramic/metal mold of Emily’s face, emphasizing your revenge for her death/disappearance/kidnapping after good characterization of her and her relationship with Corvo. Also somewhat creepy.

    Ceramic/metal mold of your face (Corvo’s), shared with your co-conspirator’s agent’s/assassins. Emphasizes your status as enemies’ nightmare, but requires third person/mirrors to be effective. Could be effective after having face deformed by torture (guess who’s baaack?). If you actually get to see mask and face, also somewhat creepy.

    Ceramic/metal mold of the Outsiders face. Given after his branding of you and good characterization of him, told idea for mask came from ‘a dream’. Emphasizes your role as his man puppet. Also somewhat creepy.

    Ceramic/metal mold of a rat’s face/skull. Emblematic of the main problem and cause of death facing the city(the rat plague). Helps build the society of the game, symbol of death, decay, destruction breaking into the aloof and willfully ignorant houses of the rich. Cooler/creepier than steampunk skull mask.

    Almost anything more carefully considered for setting and story than a steampunk skull mask. Why not try a whale mask if that’s what the Outsider is about? As it stands, the mask has no thematic porpoise.

    1. PossiblyInsane says:

      A way they could have made a silent protagonist work in this game is to start the game with a voice, let him develop his relation with the Empress and Emily, then have it taken away during the torture scene(by means of the tongue), so that it has actual meaning. This could reinforce that theme of loss that is so apparently lacking in the opening.

      *expository monologue in transit*

      Boatman: What’s the matter, rat got your tongue?

      *Corvo opens mouth, perhaps pointing a finger inside*

      Boatman: Oh. I see. Sorry.

      *awkward silence for rest of boat trip*

      Corvo could then express his intentions through interactions in the environment, rather than stunted dialogue branches.

      Then he could regain his voice only in the dreams, allowing him to have an actual relationship with the Outsider.

      Essentially, I’m saying they should hire me as a consulting director/writer and pay me all the monies in the world. Or at least hire Chris. Or Shamus. Or anyone supplied with the time, money, and artistic passion to make this mess of an beginning better.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Reminds me of one of the handful of good bits about Crysis 2- the protagonist is silent, and it’s revealed that that’s because he’s too badly injured to talk.

      2. Indy says:

        I’m quite a fan of the no-tongue idea. If I worked at Arkane in a position of power… well, the story at the start would be different, but I’d want you on the team to make it better.

      3. GiantRaven says:

        I’m already squirming in terror at the sheer thought of a first-person tongue removal sequence.

      4. Adam says:

        I’m stealing this for a D&D character. Hope you don’t mind!

    2. Hey! Mask DLC! It’d make Dishonored more popular than TF2 and its hats!

  25. Irridium says:

    What they could have done with the outsider is give him a mask. Perhaps have it change based on his mood. Of course that would require him having moods other than boredom, but still. Would’ve been a lot more striking than him looking like any other dude with eye shadow.

    1. Irridium says:

      Or, another idea, the mask you’re given, perhaps it could’ve been one of the Outsider’s masks that Pierro saw in his dreams. Would at least give some reason for why it is what it is.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        It is. The mask that Piero made is one of the ones he saw in his dream while being visited by the Outsider.

        1. Irridium says:

          Oh. Must have missed that.

          I’ll be honest, I’ve forgotten pretty much all of the dialog from this game. All I remember are the moments where I’m actually playing. Like when I unwittingly blinked onto a roof where another assassin-type guy was sitting. He then attacked me with powers and I fought back with powers. We were having a duel on the rooftops and it was actually pretty cool. Well until two more guys blinked up to us and then things got kind of rough. I survived though!

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            It was in one of Dishonored’s “Tales from Dunwall” series released shortly before the game.


  26. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I wasn’t immediately disappointed with the Outsider because I thought it was a trick of some sort. He looked so mundane I was certain somewhere later in the game there would be some kind of twist or reveal, not necessarily a negative one, as to his true nature and that it would be relevant to the plot somehow… needless to say I was not the happiest panda when there was no payoff of this sort.

  27. Nytzschy says:

    What’s especially sad is that the Outsider could be made much more interesting with a few simple tweaks.

    Instead of introducing it before the first assassination, it could have been introduced during the mission. The developers could have set some kind of trap (or multiple traps) for the player, and once (at least one of ) the trap(s) were sprung the player could be presented with overwhelming odds, from which there would be no escape save for the intervention of the Outsider.

    This would immediately make the story more dynamic. It would introduce a power disparity between the player and the Outsider because you need it to survive; it would directly connect the Outsider to the events of the game; it would change the player’s relationship to the Outsider’s powers, and would echo the theme of infection by forcing them onto/into the player by circumstances.

    Also, if the Outsider were voiced by John de Lancie, it would be amazing. The guy is the archetypical trickster god: just look at all those episodes of Star Trek he improved using his magic powers.

    *goes off to watch TNG*

    1. Thomas says:

      Look at that FMV Star Trek game he made awesome about screwing round with the timeline using a champion/pawn to make things chaotic

      I really want to play that game

      1. Wedge says:

        I’m not going to lie: that game looks like utter shit, and yet, I want to play it for one simple reason:
        You get to kick Q in the balls

        1. MikhailBorg says:

          Disclaimer: I’m an admitted hardcore Star Trek fan, but I found the “Star Trek: Borg” game intelligent, surprising, well-written, and fairly well-acted for the most part. Every so often, it will reward you for doing something entirely out of left field, which is expensive for a game based around FMV. I’d play it again if my own copy wasn’t intended for Mac OS 8.5.

          Give it a chance. I think this video reviewer guy was much more interested in being hip and sarcastic than he was in giving the game a fair review.

    2. Vect says:

      He already plays two trickster gods.

      One more might be a really weird (but kinda awesome) typecasting.

    3. Volvagia says:

      Either DeLancie or Rachel MacFarlane (Eris on Billy and Mandy) would have done very well as a version of The Outsider that didn’t bore people to death. Instead…that. I mean, the sequel is SLIGHTLY better (Billy Lush out, Robin Lord Taylor in IS an improvement, if not much of one), but still. And, yes, I know this is very late.

  28. Hitchmeister says:

    Hearing the cast talk about the Outsider made me think of Sheogorath. It might have helped if Arkane Studios could have talked to the people who made that game.

  29. Wulfgar says:

    i would like to see some sort of Q (Star Trek) like character as a Outsider

  30. Wedge says:

    “[The heart] is like the Mass Effect Codex”
    Except the Codex, at least, is TEXT. You can read it at your own pace, at a point when you feel like sitting down and reading some backstory. The heart requires you to point it at what you want backstory for. That means that if the target isn’t *immediately in front of you* you don’t get to hear that bit of information. I missed most of the heart stuff because I didn’t feel like bringing the gameplay to a screeching halt every forty seconds to get background information about what was going on.

    In general, I’m not even against the idea of games having a codex. They’re a lot like an appendix in books–supplemental information about the world or the story that’s available for people who are interested but optional for people who aren’t. The trick is making sure that it remains a *supplement* and not a replacement for actual character/story development in the work proper.

  31. Daemian Lucifer says:

    My problem with the heart is that you cannot have it out at the same time as a power.It wouldve been great to have the heart and blink out,but no,you have to have that sword.*sigh*

    Games that have both stealth and murder as equally viable options need to learn from skyrim and have both your hands equally customizable.But they need to stay the hell away from skyrims UI.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well every villain is improved immensely when played by hugo weaving,be they male or female.

      1. Dude says:


        Every character. Last Ride (2009) is one of my favorite films with Weaving.

  32. Brandon says:

    Has anyone pointed out that the whole beginning conspiracy for this game would have made a whole lot more sense if instead of just using their powers to hold Corvo still, someone possessed him and made him kill the Empress?

    I know that was a couple of episodes back now, but the thought just came to me… Make sure the player knows they are acting against their will. Some spell effect and taking control from them would probably do the trick. Maybe a bit of dialogue.. someone rubbing it in that Corvo doesn’t have any choice but kill her while she is begging for him to stop. I don’t know.

    1. Then the Outsider could grant your powers as a study in revenge and setting human against human, maybe? Could have possibilities.

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      Yeah. That would have been way better.

  33. The last time I saw a heart as an item in a video game like this was in the amazingly buggy but still fun point-n-click adventure, “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.”

  34. Thanatos Crows says:

    To me the stranger looks like he wanted a different haircut and had to do half the work himself later on. And he kinda sounds like someone suffering of high fever and a sore throat.
    So… does that make me boring or am I just an AWESOME SPACE WHALE TRICKSTER GOD?!

    Anyway, I’m with you here. His voice really ruins him. His monotone was in no way affecting me when he talked. With just little adjustments. Oh, and it’d been really cool if he came out of his shell of boredom as suggested by Chris as the chaos keeps rising. As for the vengeful spirit of the nature, they really should’ve gone to a completely different direction.

  35. River Birch says:

    I don’t really see him as a trickster god, nor as a malevolent force.
    I’m not even sure that the whales like/fear him either…but I kinda see it like this.

    He knows that he can’t really just up and wipe everyone off because he would get attention. It’s the small instances that he does talk to people that will use their abilities to simply see whether or not humans are the destroyers they are. He sees Corvo, beaten and imprisoned, follows him out, and talks to him, wondering what he would do now that he is free and is with the conspiracy.

  36. I wonder how much of that Thief reboot will take influence from Dishonored. Seeing as there is so much comparison of Dishonored to Thief.

  37. hborrgg says:

    I was one of those who really didn’t care for the creepy emo skull masks ever since I first saw it in the adds and sadly, I was pleasantly surprised to find that in the actual game it almost never came up and had nothing to do with the story whatsoever.

  38. Artur CalDazar says:

    I really saw the outsider as a bored entity just looking for something interesting, and he doesn’t like the predictable.

    But I always felt that there was going to be something more on him, but there never really was.

  39. So, Zaphod Beeblewanderer, then?

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