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Dishonored; Chaos, Endings and Morality. (ABSOLUTE SPOILERS)
October 24, 2012 - 11:28 pm
Member Since: February 11, 2011
Forum Posts: 168
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A formality, but an important one; If you've not finished Dishonored, this thread is not for you. In fact, even if you have finished Dishonored, this thread may still not be for you. It's clean until after the break, but let me explain; from what I hear, there are some radical differences in play-experience depending upon the degree of 'chaos' you evoke in the world around you through your choices and the amount of blood you spill on the streets of Dunwall. I've just completed the game on Very Hard difficulty, with 'High' chaos on every single level I played, and have subsequently experienced the 'bad' ending, of sorts. Although I've reason to believe there's an even worse one.

So, if you want to preserve the bad ending for yourself, or of course have yet to finish the game, AVAUNT! BEWARE! берегись!


Hello, Tap! Long time no see!

Allow me to welcome you, to Spoiltopia, Gristol.

... I wish to summarise my ending, initially to assemble my own thoughts but primarily to discuss morality and game design in light of my experiences, in comparison with yours.

The ending I experienced followed a trail of blood across Kingsparrow Island, having been dropped off by a bitter Samuel who complained of sickness, quite possibly plague, and criticised me for my unrelenting, unnecessary brutality, then ordered me off his boat with a stern statement that I would never meet him again. Off he motored through the surf, beyond the sharp rocks and out of sight. I hacked the watchtower in the bay, and with its aid killed every bastard trooper and overseer on the beach and outer fortifications. In spirit, anyway; they seem to respawn infinitely, something I found very uncomfortable, and a downer on my atmosphere.

I crept within, observed an altercation between a clearly unhinged Treavor Pendleton and a bitter, angry Teague Martin. I then killed everyone in the fort. Several times. Alas, they kept respawning. Sneaking inside through a drainage hatch I hastened upward, once again... Killing everyone. Thankfully these ones stayed dead. Just in time to find Treavor giggling his last while I cleaned his loyal Captain off my blade, delirious to the last, coughing breath - before expiring right in front of me. I threw his corpse through the cannon-hole in the wall. I threw the Captain out too, lest he become lonely.

Onward and upward? No, there were still people out there to kill, most notably the new High Overseer, poisoning bastard that he was. I found him in an armoured overwatch above the beach. He placed his pistol beneath his chin, delivered a nihilistic, guilt-ridden but unrepentant monologue, and painted the ceiling with his thoughts. All these loyal troopers I killed to reach these men and neither offered me the satisfaction of revenge...

Upward. Simply put, I ascended the lighthouse elevator, having disintegrated three of the men guarding it with a hacked arc pylon and hurled the fourth onto the rocks below. I killed a small number of men before climbing over the rain-slick roof. The interior of the structure was opulent, but I saw it only fleetingly through a wash of cold water over the glass roof, before entering the lighthouse proper, ignoring the base structure. I found Havelock struggling with Emily upon a high walkway, angrily and incoherently lecturing her upon the death of the city and the hopelessness of fighting. Unable to tolerate the risk of him hurling her off, or her slipping so close to the edge, I froze time completely, stepped behind Havelock, and eviscerated him. Once time had normalised, Havelock was on the floor at Emily's feet. She didn't even look at him, merely hugged me, and asked if 'they' were all dead, before coldly informing me she was glad; for she'd have had them all killed anyway. She was going to be the Empress.


The End. The Outsider spoke in summary of a world in which a young Empress did her best in a city in chaos... Or perhaps in which she ascended the throne with the life-long aid of her Assassin, over a mountain of bodies. I was shown a frozen court-scene in the Outsider's space, comprised of violent arguments between noblemen and women as Emily cowered upon the throne and an unmasked, unhooded Corvo hurled a man down the steps.

The city was buried in corpses, infested with rats - criminals looted dead nobles in their homes.

Samuel was shown being overwhelmed by a great wave in a storm, with whaling ships forging through in the background.

I saw Sokolov performing experiments, but no sign of Piero.

Finally, an adult Emily, having never much changed her style of hair or her favoured white outfit, is placing a wreath upon a memorial plaque at the gazebo where Corvo failed to protect her mother - he lays now buried beside the woman he couldn't save.


And so, I've no idea what the Outsider is. The 'City Beneath Dunwall' remains a mystery. The Whales enchant me, but I know nothing more of them than I did when I first left the prison. I do not know to whom the Heart belonged, how it was made, or why she died for it. I don't know why the Outsider inspired and empowered Corvo's enemies as well, and can only assume chaos and the death of the city was his goal, and his chosen modus to arm every faction with powerful magic and madness and watch them tear themselves apart. Why the rats of Pandyssia were such an important part of his magic, while originating in a land so far from Gristol.

I do not know whether or not some of these questions might have been answered had I touched Dunwall differently.

But nor do I know how I might have done so, because... I actually felt like the good guy, until the end. I was certainly an assassin, and yes, I killed many men... But I asked the heart to look into each man's heart in turn, to tell me the sins and saintliness of each potential victim, and the majority of those who died on my blade died deserved deaths. I killed crude criminals, murderous assassins and corrupt guardsmen, and yes I killed hundreds of them, but they were the PROBLEM with the city, they were the poison at its heart. Their cruelty and selfishness was the real plague. How could I justify the gentle tranquilisation of men who the heart told me had shot down children, sexually abused young boys, beaten their wives, framed friends for their own crimes? To leave those I killed alive seemed the greater sin. To remove from Dunwall all the aggressive young sociopaths - its gangsters, its bullies and sadists, culling the darkest demographics, leaving the relatively innocent to bunker down, to let the plague abate and then emerge from their holes to salvage the city seemed like the only realistic, moral thing to do.

Evidently, Arkane do not agree with my ethics!

Every single level in the game granted me a High chaos rating, regardless of my early efforts to kill only a very small proportion of those men among the City Watch and Overseers who the Heart called foul. Only later did I accept the absolute corruption and my role as ReAAperRRr DeATH deATh DeaTHhhh and.. give in to.. Chaos..

Okay, so I may have lost control a little toward the end. The deaths of the Hound Pits staff were a harsh blow, on top of my growing suspicions that Emily was Outsider-touched and irreparably mentally scarred... By the time I woke up in the Flooded District and was taken captive by Daud's assassins, I felt the city was doomed, and that the only positive step to be taken was to sterilise it. With fire.

Landing at Kingsparrow, I wanted to burn them all. They had proven to be just as corrupt as the men who originally killed my Empress, imprisoned me, tortured me, and abused the city in their power. Everyone was corrupt. Even Emily seemed broken, leaving only me, the mute Assassin, to speak sense - and the only way I had to communicate was by stabbing everything. Troubling.

Once more I recall that every single mission from the very beginning, I received 'High' chaos. And this was at Very Hard difficulty, in which two sword blows can kill. I was hardly *seeking* combat, it would have been suicide to do so. I left many men untouched and plenty more rendered unconscious, but this is still, apparently, 'chaotic'... I fought with honour - you know I never used an explosive bullet or incendiary bolt? That I killed 90% of my foes with my blade, for it felt simply too 'Dishonorable' to take them from a distance with crude ranged weapons, without facing them or stepping close enough to touch?

Tap, I feel unappreciated. Misunderstood. I am not a sadistic agent of chaos, not a mass murderer. I only did what I felt was right and best for the city. Am I just like them? Am I just another mad fool, making the world worse when given too much power? Did they truly believe it was all for the best?

I wanted to go to Pandyssia, Tap. I wanted to save the whales. I wanted to dig beneath the city and find the secrets. I wanted to question the Outsider and further expand my grasp of his dark magics. Instead, it seems I merely kept on killing for a mad child-Empress, until the day I too, died.

Did I do wrong, Tap? They do say there's no wrong way to play the game, but... I cannot help but feel that I have been punished.


Morality is perhaps the biggest topic in game design in recent years, everyone's gimmick, whether you're taking part in a civilian massacre at a Russian airport, deciding the death of worlds with A or B, or changing the colour of the post-processed lighting effects in a town by completing Good and Evil quest lines.

What did you think of Dishonored's definition of morality as; killing is immoral, no-matter who dies? How does it match up with your own views, and did you personally feel that the game's assessment of your deeds was fair or accurate?

I am left frustrated by the way I myself have been judged, the way the plot has turned because of what I saw as logic, due to the very different feelings of those who wrote the game. I may have been a monster, but that's what the city needed. Emily's monster, saving the world from other beasts. Is it always wrong to be a monster?

Thanks for reading. I look forward to any responses you might offer.

 - Jack

P.S. Have any of you played Spec Ops: The Line? A recent completion, I'd enjoy discussing it if there's an audience for it here.

November 12, 2012 - 8:27 pm
Member Since: April 19, 2009
Forum Posts: 1683
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Jakkar, I took the low chaos route; killed two people (accidentally) in the prison, and never after that. The Outsider didn't turn on me or seem displeased, he was more like an uninterested narrator. I have no inkling of his agenda, if any, nor his purpose for that matter. Nor the heart's.

I was also displeased to a degree with the ending, for some reasons different and some similar, I suspect.

I'm playing once more, murderously, with feeling; going for high chaos, so that I might witness the differences each path takes on Dunwall. I'll dwell on all you've said and let my thoughts incubate, returning at a later date!

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

December 7, 2012 - 9:10 am
Member Since: April 19, 2009
Forum Posts: 1683
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I've been procrastinating with my second go-round of Dishonored - you know, stuff. Mostly.

I did have a brief session a couple days ago and had my first experience with the Shadow Kill trait: very useful, and fun to boot. I don't know if I'm going to abandon this second play-through or get on with it. I'm leaning towards delay, probably.

I thoroughly enjoyed the campaign and thought I'd want to do it all over again, but I guess I'm hesitating partly because the epilogue left a...not offensive, just...bland taste in my mouth.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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