The Devil and Corvo Attano

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The Devil and Corvo Attano

The Outsider. By far the most intriguing character in Dishonored. The game's screen text calls the Outsider "a figure of myth, neither good nor evil." Well, I don't buy it.

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You are giving the devs far too much credit.

Magic provides far more options for nonlethal gameplay then weapons do, so the idea of The Outsider tempting you by offering you the power to kill easily is bogus.

There just wasn't much communication between the narrative design folks and the gameplay design folks on this issue. They place so much narrative focus on Corvos lethality while nonlethal gameplay is an afterthought.

And even if i were to accept the argument you put forward, that would mean they deliberately made one path of the game boring, so that the player would be "tempted".

Either way, that's shit game design.

AntiChri5:

And even if i were to accept the argument you put forward, that would mean they deliberately made one path of the game boring, so that the player would be "tempted".

I agree. This whole thing would have worked a bit better if the Low Chaos final mission had been a little more 'epic'. Have circumstances throw everything at Corvo to try and make him break.

Since getting to the Low Chaos final mission is proof that this Corvo has chosen not to be murdering psychopath, but instead has tried to hang onto his morals in a desolate world, the final mission should have reflected that by becoming the ultimate test. Tempt Corvo more than ever to kill when he doesn't need to. And have the game notice whether or not he gives into that final temptation, and give consequence - maybe by having Emily inadvertently witness it.

Instead, we find that:

The low chaos epilogue is nice though, especially the way that the Outsider appears genuinely impressed at Corvo.

Deliberate or not AntiChri5 the authors interpretation remains legitimate, if not for the games design, but rather the resulting game in spite of development. I'm mindful you're already aware of this just my two cents.

AntiChri5:
You are giving the devs far too much credit.

Magic provides far more options for nonlethal gameplay then weapons do, so the idea of The Outsider tempting you by offering you the power to kill easily is bogus.

There just wasn't much communication between the narrative design folks and the gameplay design folks on this issue. They place so much narrative focus on Corvos lethality while nonlethal gameplay is an afterthought.

And even if i were to accept the argument you put forward, that would mean they deliberately made one path of the game boring, so that the player would be "tempted".

Either way, that's shit game design.

I can understand the author's point on magic. I agree with you that there are tons of magic options for nonlethal, but what you both describe points to the fact that lethal magic has a much more visual effect, causing that visceral satisfaction where nonlethal has no visual gratification. It relies on a player's anxiety of being caught and catharsis from not. If the player is a type of person that doesn't build up that anxiety, then nonlethal will ALWAYS feel dull.

All stealth games fall upon this issue: lethal choices result in action, whereas non-lethal (stealth) choices typically result in in-action. It is hard (I said hard, not impossible) to make a stealth game in which an individual stealth action has an immediate and impactful change to the game. It's a solid reason why these type of games can attract different crowds. By it's very nature, ghosting levels in games often means we have to skip content. Games that master this problem do so by adding alternate routes, typically adding in environmental disasters to keep some sort of tension. This way players aren't forced to simply skip or avoid a heavy challenge, but instead face an entirely different one.

I think Dishonored hits it right in the middle. Ghosting results in both boring and tense avoidance, but also gives us alternative and lengthy nonlethal objectives.

That was an absolutely great article, and a fantastic analysis of the game. I agreed with pretty much everything you wrote, though I personally found my Low-Chaos playthrough to be more interesting and fun, though that was also because I was trying to not be seen and use only the Blink power; sweet, sweet gamerscore brings out my inner masochist, it seems.

The one thing that stood out to me was you disagreeing with the Outsider being neither good nor evil. I'll agree that he's (it's?) hardly nice, but I think that the statement basically means that he operates on a level completely different to that of humans, and that labels such as 'good' or 'evil' are far too limited to be applied to him. I always got a very Lovecraftian vibe from him, and while most mere mortals would probably call the Outsider evil, I'd argue that he's too alien for such labels to be at all valid; he simply transcends morality.

He's a really interesting character/presence, and I did find it a shame that the main thing Arkane used him for was spouting exposition.

Oh God, not this tone again. This "lethal force is never right, all attempts at justification are just lies we tell ourselves and it never does any good in the long run" socio-political message has been thrown at the general public so many times by so many people I'm starting to get a permanent dent in my skull from where it hits me. Is this interpretation of The Outsider interesting? Yes. Is it valid? Yes, I can definitely see where this viewpoint has its merits; the Outsider does seem to be pushing you to indulge in your baser inclinations, namely your anger and violence.

But WHY does that mean violence is NEVER justified? Yes, Granny Rags was a crazy witch, but at the time you didn't know that, plus the Bottle St. gangsters were attacking her ostensibly unprovoked; would it have been more moral to stand by and watch three armed men attack an (again, ostensibly) frail old woman who couldn't defend herself?

When I played this game I used the heart to determine which men I used lethal means on and which ones I used nonlethal means on, and I still got the good ending. I know that's treading an incredibly fine line, but the circumstances need to be taken into account. This is a corrupt regime that endorses its enforces abusing their authority. There's no higher authority to report their crimes to that will stop them from committing more and seeing they get the sentence they deserve. You either have to be willing to stand up for what you think is right and take action yourself or just look the other way and think happy thoughts, hoping they'll stop brutalizing and murdering innocent people.

I really wonder sometimes about people who take this "violence and lethal force are never justified" attitude. I seriously doubt they've ever considered what they'd do if they had to face such a choice - take action to protect a person/do what's right or do nothing because it would require they fight and possibly kill someone - in reality. I'm damn sure most of them have never actually HAD to make that choice. To me it seems like a reflection of that ever-present, larger, and growing societal problem of "let someone else take responsibility for it". If you want to talk about taking the easy way out, how about condemning people for fighting to protect others and uphold values while sitting on your hands yourself and just watching evil happen.

I think that whenever possible, nonlethal methods of addressing problems should be the first choice. But when circumstances dictate, I think that lethal force IS justifiable. No, it's not an easy burden to bear, but those who chose to bear it shouldn't be sneered at for doing so.

TiberiusEsuriens:

AntiChri5:
You are giving the devs far too much credit.

Magic provides far more options for nonlethal gameplay then weapons do, so the idea of The Outsider tempting you by offering you the power to kill easily is bogus.

There just wasn't much communication between the narrative design folks and the gameplay design folks on this issue. They place so much narrative focus on Corvos lethality while nonlethal gameplay is an afterthought.

And even if i were to accept the argument you put forward, that would mean they deliberately made one path of the game boring, so that the player would be "tempted".

Either way, that's shit game design.

I can understand the author's point on magic. I agree with you that there are tons of magic options for nonlethal, but what you both describe points to the fact that lethal magic has a much more visual effect, causing that visceral satisfaction where nonlethal has no visual gratification. It relies on a player's anxiety of being caught and catharsis from not. If the player is a type of person that doesn't build up that anxiety, then nonlethal will ALWAYS feel dull.

All stealth games fall upon this issue: lethal choices result in action, whereas non-lethal (stealth) choices typically result in in-action. It is hard (I said hard, not impossible) to make a stealth game in which an individual stealth action has an immediate and impactful change to the game. It's a solid reason why these type of games can attract different crowds. By it's very nature, ghosting levels in games often means we have to skip content. Games that master this problem do so by adding alternate routes, typically adding in environmental disasters to keep some sort of tension. This way players aren't forced to simply skip or avoid a heavy challenge, but instead face an entirely different one.

I think Dishonored hits it right in the middle. Ghosting results in both boring and tense avoidance, but also gives us alternative and lengthy nonlethal objectives.

I don't really think it's about different kinds of players. I can enjoy stealth games and games focused on nonviolently evading or nonlethally suduing enemies. I just think that Dishonoured was shit at that.

What i keep coming back to is the sword. It's been a while, but i don't remember there being any way to have a weapon other then the sword in your main hand. How can i take the nonlethal path seriously when i have a lethal weapon permanently stuck in my main hand?

It's a small thing, sure, but i think it's rather telling. Nonlethality wasn't really an issue during gameplay design, just something they slapped in later.

Mike Fang:
[snip]

But WHY does that mean violence is NEVER justified? Yes, Granny Rags was a crazy witch, but at the time you didn't know that, plus the Bottle St. gangsters were attacking her ostensibly unprovoked; would it have been more moral to stand by and watch three armed men attack an (again, ostensibly) frail old woman who couldn't defend herself?
[snip]

I really wonder sometimes about people who take this "violence and lethal force are never justified" attitude.

[snip]

I think you're reading a little too much politics into this one where there's only analysis and theory. This piece more addresses the "Devil as Violence" trope that, yes, does appear in western society over and over, but it isn't really appropriate for this article. If you want to read this overtone into the article, it's more a tension between justified or holy war and violence that the devil wants you to engage in.

TiberiusEsuriens:
...lethal magic has a much more visual effect, causing that visceral satisfaction where nonlethal has no visual gratification. It relies on a player's anxiety of being caught and catharsis from not. If the player is a type of person that doesn't build up that anxiety, then nonlethal will ALWAYS feel dull.

All stealth games fall upon this issue: lethal choices result in action, whereas non-lethal (stealth) choices typically result in in-action. It is hard (I said hard, not impossible) to make a stealth game in which an individual stealth action has an immediate and impactful change to the game. It's a solid reason why these type of games can attract different crowds.

Um, I think this says more about you than about stealth games. I like stealth games. I'm not particularly fussed about losing this "visceral satisfaction" and "visual gratification" you apparently get from mediocre depictions of extreme violence. Nor am I into the anxiety thing you're talking about. For me, the fun of a stealth game is in the puzzle aspect, slowly picking apart the loose threads until you can slip through or just disassemble the problem.

Action can be fun, too, of course, but there's an awful lot of action games for each stealth game, and frankly Dishonored doesn't even really give me the sort of tools that make me want to play an action game. Even my High Chaos run as Daud has been stealth-centric.

Good article, although I disagree on a few points.

My interpretation was more that the Outsider wanted to effectively level the playing field between lethal and nonlethal, thus forcing you to actually make a choice between the two rather than being backed into a corner where one or the other was the only viable option. While a few of the Outsiders magics are definitely lethal, by and large they are or can be used in non lethal fashions. Compare this against the weapons provided by the resistance, where most of the weapons are lethal with a few exceptions being nonlethal. I would go as far as to question whether a pacifistic run of the game is within the average players ability without the aid of magic.

So to my mind, rather than temptation, the Outsider was making sure you had everything you needed - enough rope to hang yourself with, detailed instructions on hangmans knots, a book on the ethics of suicide, a conscience, and a Wonderful Life. Basically evening out the field so that no matter what Corvo does, there will be no mitigating circumstances to excuse him, and there will be nobody else to blame. And that may fit in with the Satan comparison just as well. After all, he's the prosecutor and nothing wrecks a good prosecution like mitigating circumstances.

Mike Fang:

When I played this game I used the heart to determine which men I used lethal means on and which ones I used nonlethal means on

How did you know that the heart wasn't lying? It could also be a part of the temptation from the Outsider that occasionally spouts lies to convince you to kill someone. Other than that I agree with you that violence can be justified.

Pyrian:
Um, I think this says more about you than about stealth games. I like stealth games. I'm not particularly fussed about losing this "visceral satisfaction" and "visual gratification" you apparently get from mediocre depictions of extreme violence. Nor am I into the anxiety thing you're talking about. For me, the fun of a stealth game is in the puzzle aspect, slowly picking apart the loose threads until you can slip through or just disassemble the problem.

Action can be fun, too, of course, but there's an awful lot of action games for each stealth game, and frankly Dishonored doesn't even really give me the sort of tools that make me want to play an action game. Even my High Chaos run as Daud has been stealth-centric.

I never said I didn't like it. I loved it. Just because you or I like it doesn't mean it bugs the hell out of others, though. The thing that I can totally relate with them you indirectly hit - stealth games are puzzles, but the 'visceral' feeling missing is simply that stealth games can be really obtuse about communicating if the puzzle is solved or not. Some people like that, some don't. That's the best thing about games; there's something out there for everyone, and just because someone says something you disagree with it doesn't make them a stupid idiot.

I haven't played the Daud missions, but I play almost all my stealth games as sneaky-sneaky-stabby-stabby. I agree with Robert that while stealth was more challenging, I simply didn't find the nonlethal stealth options given as enjoyable.

Very interesting read and the effort put into it is in itself impressive.
Of course I almost completely disagree and think that Robert Rath is seeing what he wants to see.

I have a fresh memory of the game, less than two months ago of a full non-lethal run.
My impression of The Outsider is that he is a person or force who is generally bored and takes interest in people who have choices and what they do with them. As people have mentioned, the spells he gives you are far better suited to non-lethal gameplay than the equipment you get, so there's no temptation in that, in my opinion.

The Outsider is very impartial.
He sees Daud kill the Empress, but is dissapointed in Daud's guilt and lack of conviction, not because Daud doesn't match up to some evil expectancy, but because Daud didn't think his actions through and suddenly succumbs to his fear of Corvo and the obvious power that the Outsider has given him. Daud is no longer interesting, but what Corvo does with Daud, is.

The Outsider only amplifies your power to choose freely. If the power is too tempting, then that's your own inability to handle it. By Robert's own admission, he barely could. That trio that came knocking on Granny Rags' door? You didn't have to kill them. You could subdue them. That power the outsider gave you to kill people? It only amplified the power of your weapons and what you chose to do with them.

Temptation is a poor excuse for those without strong conviction. Corvo is a man of exceptional skills and power and it's his convictions that are interesting. It's what Corvo uses his abilities for, not how.

"Rivers change course over many lifetimes, and eventually all bridges tumble down. A thousand years ago there was another city on this spot. The people carved the bones of whales and inscribed them with my Mark. Children still find them washed up in the river-mud. Anton Sokolov has made a great study of my runes, but he's not special like you are. He wasn't chosen and he doesn't wear my Mark, so he can't unlock their secrets. Sokolov believes there are specific words and acts that can compel me to appear before him. He searches old temples in Pandyssia and ruined subbasements in the Flooded District. He performs disgusting rituals beneath the old Abbey. But if he really wants to meet me, he could start by being a bit more interesting."

The Outsider couldn't care less that Sokolov is a nutjob who "performs disgusting rituals" or does grisly things to people. The only consideration is whether or not a person is special, interesting.
The pattern repeats. Sokolov is not a person of conviction, merely selfinterested and curious. He's gained considerable respect and is a genius, so he is certainly capable, but he doesn't choose to do anything to change things, in fact he only helps himself through his own power. He's not interested in what Sokolov would do with the Mark, because it would be the cause of Sokolovs choices.

About the heart... let's be honest. It's just a gimmick for you to find charms, explore the setting, the people and history. Throughout it all, almost everyone you meet is a bad person and in a city of bad people, so of course the most interesting person would be the one who rises above all the others. The heart challenges your convictions, sure, but it never tells you what's right or wrong.

So while I agree that the Outsider is testing people, I do believe he's impartial and not just out to see if someone is tempted. He only wants to see the most interesting outcome, the unforseen and the curious (He expresses gratitude every time you spare someone, indicating that surprising him is what he wants. He even states "these are the moments I wait for" upon sparing Burrows, further proving that he is only interested in the unexpected).
I see the parallels between Job and Corvo, they're both stories of conviction through hardship, but I don't see any agenda along the lines of the devil messing with people in the hopes of creating chaos. Chaos is just a biproduct for which the Outsider cares nothing about.

The only thing dangerous about him is that he shows you who you are and continues to let you use the powers you were granted, whether you chose to use them with care or not. All malice comes from people, not him.

Great article! I think I have felt something similar but was never able to put it into words.

Keep writing about Dishonored! (or try doing an article or two about Bioshock, if you can)

Smilomaniac:
Very interesting read and the effort put into it is in itself impressive.
Of course I almost completely disagree and think that Robert Rath is seeing what he wants to see.

I have a fresh memory of the game, less than two months ago of a full non-lethal run.
My impression of The Outsider is that he is a person or force who is generally bored and takes interest in people who have choices and what they do with them. As people have mentioned, the spells he gives you are far better suited to non-lethal gameplay than the equipment you get, so there's no temptation in that, in my opinion.

The Outsider is very impartial.
He sees Daud kill the Empress, but is dissapointed in Daud's guilt and lack of conviction, not because Daud doesn't match up to some evil expectancy, but because Daud didn't think his actions through and suddenly succumbs to his fear of Corvo and the obvious power that the Outsider has given him. Daud is no longer interesting, but what Corvo does with Daud, is.

The Outsider only amplifies your power to choose freely. If the power is too tempting, then that's your own inability to handle it. By Robert's own admission, he barely could. That trio that came knocking on Granny Rags' door? You didn't have to kill them. You could subdue them. That power the outsider gave you to kill people? It only amplified the power of your weapons and what you chose to do with them.

Temptation is a poor excuse for those without strong conviction. Corvo is a man of exceptional skills and power and it's his convictions that are interesting. It's what Corvo uses his abilities for, not how.

"Rivers change course over many lifetimes, and eventually all bridges tumble down. A thousand years ago there was another city on this spot. The people carved the bones of whales and inscribed them with my Mark. Children still find them washed up in the river-mud. Anton Sokolov has made a great study of my runes, but he's not special like you are. He wasn't chosen and he doesn't wear my Mark, so he can't unlock their secrets. Sokolov believes there are specific words and acts that can compel me to appear before him. He searches old temples in Pandyssia and ruined subbasements in the Flooded District. He performs disgusting rituals beneath the old Abbey. But if he really wants to meet me, he could start by being a bit more interesting."

The Outsider couldn't care less that Sokolov is a nutjob who "performs disgusting rituals" or does grisly things to people. The only consideration is whether or not a person is special, interesting.
The pattern repeats. Sokolov is not a person of conviction, merely selfinterested and curious. He's gained considerable respect and is a genius, so he is certainly capable, but he doesn't choose to do anything to change things, in fact he only helps himself through his own power. He's not interested in what Sokolov would do with the Mark, because it would be the cause of Sokolovs choices.

About the heart... let's be honest. It's just a gimmick for you to find charms, explore the setting, the people and history. Throughout it all, almost everyone you meet is a bad person and in a city of bad people, so of course the most interesting person would be the one who rises above all the others. The heart challenges your convictions, sure, but it never tells you what's right or wrong.

So while I agree that the Outsider is testing people, I do believe he's impartial and not just out to see if someone is tempted. He only wants to see the most interesting outcome, the unforseen and the curious (He expresses gratitude every time you spare someone, indicating that surprising him is what he wants. He even states "these are the moments I wait for" upon sparing Burrows, further proving that he is only interested in the unexpected).
I see the parallels between Job and Corvo, they're both stories of conviction through hardship, but I don't see any agenda along the lines of the devil messing with people in the hopes of creating chaos. Chaos is just a biproduct for which the Outsider cares nothing about.

The only thing dangerous about him is that he shows you who you are and continues to let you use the powers you were granted, whether you chose to use them with care or not. All malice comes from people, not him.

The outsider indirectly provided Corvos weapons though too, he gave Piero visions of different inventions which included Corvos mask and his weapons. Otherwise I agree the Outsider isnt exactly evil, its human failing that lead his "gifts" into causing so much chaos.

If you get the best low chaos ending the Outsider even seems slightly more approving, same for if Corvo spares Daud. Those choices and paths are not so obvious and more interesting to him, makes me wonder if the great leviathan thing is true and he is watching and playing with humans for his own entertainment or study.

But non-lethal stealth is so much the harder option without the gifts of the outsider. Possession, dark vision, and most of all blink mean you can avoid and escape from confrontation much more simply. It's the secular tools, the pistol, sword, and bow that allow Corvo to decimate everything, and as far as I remember, only blink and dark vision use so little mana that it regenerates naturally, everything else will require you to find an elixir eventually.

Without magic, Corvo can still easily kill 10 or 20 guardsmen at a time, yet he can not zip across rooftops or pass through a room in another body. He would have to take the avenues that guardsmen, regular men, are more likely to take, making it certain he will have to confront them eventually without the powers.

I did not know Piero was involved with this though. That part's interesting and is something I missed.

While killing any guard you come across or who discovers you is a slippery slope, I do question whether letting even your targets live is really the morally right choice. You send the Pendletons off to be slaves doing backbreaking labour in mines with their tongues cut out, Lady Boyle gets held in captivity by someone of...shall we say overly amorous intent, the overseer dude becomes a plague-infected hobo...
Not really the soft option, is what I'm saying

My basic attitude on the subject is that I felt this was fairly obvious. It was made pretty clear that the path of killing and using most of the abilities was "bad" and being non-lethal and intentionally not using a lot of the tricks provided was "good". To get a "good" ending that isn't kind of a downer you basically have to limit your gameplay options and not play with all the fun toys the game gives you....

The thing is that this is a video game, it's about entertainment, holding my entertainment ransom with the threat of giving me an unsatisfying and bad ending is not a good idea.

On a lot of levels I think Dishonored epitomizes what is wrong with moral choice systems, better than perhaps just about anything but Bioshock. The idea that your pretty much forced down the path of being all good or all bad. No dark heroes, or noble villains need apply. If you kill people in even understandable circumstances in "Dishonored" or sacrifice even one "Little Sister" in Bioshock, your basically branding the devil and made into some kind of cackling force of malevolence.

But then again, I'm also someone who believes in some very bad things being done, albeit for the right reasons. I do not tend to believe "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" as much as intentions are what really matters and what is done in the pursuit of them is secondary.

In the case of Dishonored it should be noted that you can't even make an argument that "Justice is right, Vengeance is not" given that in this case Justice and Vengeance are walking hand in hand for the most part. The entire situation is one where the system itself is pretty much facing the backlash it brought on itself in the form of Corvo. It's almost a perfect "Yin Yang" of opposites, each with a touch of the other inside.

I wouldn't call the Outsider a force that's advocating for violence. If anything, he give Corvo the tools he needs to take a pacifist playthrough. I'm not even sure if it would be possible to do the pacifist playthrough without using the Outsider's gift. Yes the gifts can be used for harm but I think the Outsider is more interested in seeing the choices play out than actually having a preference on which choice was made.

I also have to disagree with you about the non-lethal playthrough being boring. I found it to be more rewarding than the lethal playthrough from both a gameplay and story perspective. So I think that part is just largely up to your own personal preference.

Still, an interesting article.

Mike Fang:

But WHY does that mean violence is NEVER justified? Yes, Granny Rags was a crazy witch, but at the time you didn't know that, plus the Bottle St. gangsters were attacking her ostensibly unprovoked; would it have been more moral to stand by and watch three armed men attack an (again, ostensibly) frail old woman who couldn't defend herself?

I knocked out the three dudes and placed them sleeping soundly on a random balcony or dumpster. Violence is sometimes the answer but so long as you are caring about it it's fine.

Like how my father would beat me with a book then tuck my unconscious body into bed.

EvilRoy:
I would go as far as to question whether a pacifistic run of the game is within the average players ability without the aid of magic.

It's pretty easy actually.

I got the "Mostly Flesh and Steel", "Clean Hands" and "Ghost" achievements all in one run. Granted, my second run, but it wasn't overly challenging.
(Complete the game without killing anyone, Finish the game without purchasing any supernatural powers or enhancements, besides Blink, Complete all missions after the prologue, alerting no one or killing no one but key targets

To take an interesting approach, the Outsider is an immortal Joker without a Batman.

And yeah, like most said already. Your temptation was to use the weapons of humans (mostly), while the magic made a non-lethal run easier if not even possible to begin with.

Seydaman:

EvilRoy:
I would go as far as to question whether a pacifistic run of the game is within the average players ability without the aid of magic.

It's pretty easy actually.

...besides Blink...

Did you do it without using Blink? The achievement allows it, but it's certainly a power granted by the Outsider in terms of this discussion.

It's not entirely difficult to go through Dishonored on a "non-lethal no magic" run, it only makes the game a lot longer and requires you to study the guard patterns a lot more closely than if you did have magic. (Meaning Blink spam everywhere they're not looking)

OT: The Outsider always came across as that impartial spectator to me.
The magic he gives Corvo can be used to go non-lethal just as much as it can go lethal
The weapons were designed by Pierro and other Dunwall scientists
and whether you go good or bad, in the end, The Outsider will have enjoyed himself whether impressed by your restraint or satisfied with your bloodshed.
From a narrative standpoint, I think Corvo could have saved Dunwall any way he wanted to without the aid of the Outsider, even if it took a lot longer.
Really, I didn't think about it far beyond that. Pretty insightful article.

As was true with your informing article about the honour system, Mr Rath you have once again increased my enjoyment of Dishonored tenfold. I too found it frustrating game design to be given so many (fun!) tools that I wouldn't be able use when trying for Low Chaos. I hadn't thought of it from the temptation angle before.

Murdering everything in dishonored is very easy and, after a while, not really satisfying at all due to its repetetive nature while working non-lethal makes it more challenging, varies up the gameplay because you actually have to pay attention to unique enemy constellations instead of just stabbing and shooting everything that moves.
Having more tools doesn't mean having more fun, especially once you realize that most of them are pretty much worthless anyway.

So much style for such a dull, lifeless game. The asthetic was good but completely wasted on environments and npcs that were completely unbelievable. Everything just screamed "this is a video game!" Dunwall wasnt a city; it was an obstacle coursr.

My favorite parts were the Outsider bits though. I found the idea of this omnipotent-yet-bored being making mortals jump through hoops fascinating. If they only kept one thing in the sequel, keep the Outsider.

An interesting take on the mishandled game design. I don't think this was intended by the devs, but I like it!

As others have said, magic makes nonlethal easier, but only 3 abilities (Blink, Dark Vision, and Possession) and 1 passive (Vitality) had no inherent violent use; the others all do. There were no puzzles that used Windblast, summoning a Devouring Swarm just to Possess a rat to sneak through a vent was too risky (a guard may wander into the swarm and good-bye non-lethal!). The majority of the magic abilities practically scream "Kill someone with me!" as do the mortal weapons. The deck in stacked towards killing, but even a stacked deck has to offer something to keep you playing with it; thus the non-lethal magic abilities.

I personally had just as much fun with the nonlethal playthrough as I did the lethal one.

Plus, it got me a sweet trophy.

J Tyran:

The outsider indirectly provided Corvos weapons though too, he gave Piero visions of different inventions which included Corvos mask and his weapons. Otherwise I agree the Outsider isnt exactly evil, its human failing that lead his "gifts" into causing so much chaos.

If you get the best low chaos ending the Outsider even seems slightly more approving, same for if Corvo spares Daud. Those choices and paths are not so obvious and more interesting to him, makes me wonder if the great leviathan thing is true and he is watching and playing with humans for his own entertainment or study.

That last part is what had me spend hours writing my post instead of minutes.
Why is The Outside more approving of you sparing people? Why is he more inclined to praise positive behaviour than negative behaviour?

Then I read this:
"And Daud -- you just killed the greatest assassin of the age. Did you do it for love of the Empress or Emily? Or was it the primal desire to rise above other men? Do you even know why?"

It always comes back to conviction.
We know little about Corvo himself, but we do know things that might paint a clearer picture of him.
Empress Jessamine Kaldwin is a caring leader who's biggest priority is her people. Since she took Corvo as not only her personal bodyguard, but also her lover, it's not farfetched to conclude that he's just as interested in saving people, rather than murdering them. His title is "Lord Protector" after all and I doubt that's a coincidence.

So if Corvo is implied to be an honorable man with a strong interest in protecting people, that's not exactly surprising when he spares Daud or any of the other people he's sent to kill. Except, Corvo is brutally mistreated, suspected of killing the woman he loved and kidnapping his own daughter. The whole world is against him and yet he chooses to stand by his conviction and that's what surprises(and delights) the Outsider.

If Corvo kills Daud, then he's succumbed to petty(albeit understandable) emotions and compromised his very being.
"Do you even know why?"
The question is, does the Outsider know why, meaning he doesn't quite understand the motivation behind killing Daud when it's not part of who Corvo is. While there could be any number of reasons(for one, getting rid of an assassin), succumbing to killing Daud is just a result of petty feelings, which is a dissapointing and forseeable outcome.

I'm absolutely certain that the only thing the Outsider is interested in, is surprise.

-

Regarding Piero...
I think this is in part an oversight of design, that The Outsider supplies designs to Piero to make things or an excuse to give Corvo things that others in the game don't have access to.
I do believe that Piero is more interested in changing the world(rather than benefit himself like Sokolov), which warrants the attention of The Outsider, but the inspiration has no motive other than supplying Corvo with tools, which is somwhat at odds with what else we know about this. Arguably, it could just be to give Corvo more choices in his own fight.

As others have mentioned, the overwhelming deadly arsenal you recieve as well as the satisfaction of killing people is likely an oversight and a fault of the game, rather than an indication of The Outsider wanting you to kill people.

--

Regarding the Leviathans. This is one aspect of the setting I don't understand or frankly haven't bothered to look into. I'm not sure what part they play, if any at all. I can see the obvious signs and the dependancy that their society have on these creatures as well as the implied magic connection between their bones and The Outsider, and Granny Rags calling out to the "Great Leviathan".

Sure, he could be their avatar or aspect and have an interest in why humanity is as it is. Positive actions might indicate that he wants to see the good in humans and have ulterior motives in finding out, possibly to spare them or decide to kill them all off through chaos.
(I haven't played the DLC so I'm certainly missing information.)

Please tell me, what do you think?

Smilomaniac:

J Tyran:

The outsider indirectly provided Corvos weapons though too, he gave Piero visions of different inventions which included Corvos mask and his weapons. Otherwise I agree the Outsider isnt exactly evil, its human failing that lead his "gifts" into causing so much chaos.

If you get the best low chaos ending the Outsider even seems slightly more approving, same for if Corvo spares Daud. Those choices and paths are not so obvious and more interesting to him, makes me wonder if the great leviathan thing is true and he is watching and playing with humans for his own entertainment or study.

That last part is what had me spend hours writing my post instead of minutes.
Why is The Outside more approving of you sparing people? Why is he more inclined to praise positive behaviour than negative behaviour?

Then I read this:
"And Daud -- you just killed the greatest assassin of the age. Did you do it for love of the Empress or Emily? Or was it the primal desire to rise above other men? Do you even know why?"

It always comes back to conviction.
We know little about Corvo himself, but we do know things that might paint a clearer picture of him.
Empress Jessamine Kaldwin is a caring leader who's biggest priority is her people. Since she took Corvo as not only her personal bodyguard, but also her lover, it's not farfetched to conclude that he's just as interested in saving people, rather than murdering them. His title is "Lord Protector" after all and I doubt that's a coincidence.

So if Corvo is implied to be an honorable man with a strong interest in protecting people, that's not exactly surprising when he spares Daud or any of the other people he's sent to kill. Except, Corvo is brutally mistreated, suspected of killing the woman he loved and kidnapping his own daughter. The whole world is against him and yet he chooses to stand by his conviction and that's what surprises(and delights) the Outsider.

If Corvo kills Daud, then he's succumbed to petty(albeit understandable) emotions and compromised his very being.
"Do you even know why?"
The question is, does the Outsider know why, meaning he doesn't quite understand the motivation behind killing Daud when it's not part of who Corvo is. While there could be any number of reasons(for one, getting rid of an assassin), succumbing to killing Daud is just a result of petty feelings, which is a dissapointing and forseeable outcome.

I'm absolutely certain that the only thing the Outsider is interested in, is surprise.

-

Regarding Piero...
I think this is in part an oversight of design, that The Outsider supplies designs to Piero to make things or an excuse to give Corvo things that others in the game don't have access to.
I do believe that Piero is more interested in changing the world(rather than benefit himself like Sokolov), which warrants the attention of The Outsider, but the inspiration has no motive other than supplying Corvo with tools, which is somwhat at odds with what else we know about this. Arguably, it could just be to give Corvo more choices in his own fight.

As others have mentioned, the overwhelming deadly arsenal you recieve as well as the satisfaction of killing people is likely an oversight and a fault of the game, rather than an indication of The Outsider wanting you to kill people.

--

Regarding the Leviathans. This is one aspect of the setting I don't understand or frankly haven't bothered to look into. I'm not sure what part they play, if any at all. I can see the obvious signs and the dependancy that their society have on these creatures as well as the implied magic connection between their bones and The Outsider, and Granny Rags calling out to the "Great Leviathan".

Sure, he could be their avatar or aspect and have an interest in why humanity is as it is. Positive actions might indicate that he wants to see the good in humans and have ulterior motives in finding out, possibly to spare them or decide to kill them all off through chaos.
(I haven't played the DLC so I'm certainly missing information.)

Please tell me, what do you think?

Well to get the DLC story without spoiling much all I will say is that the Outsider purposefully sets Daud on a path to stop another party from using void powers in a manner the Outsider obviously disapproves of, sending Daud off shows that and how things end for Daud depends on him. Interestingly when the Outsider asks Corvo "do you even know why?" is tied into Daud and how he handled things after the murder of the Empress, if he did things one way Corvo spares him without realising why if he does it another Corvo kills him which shows how some of Corvos path was predestined by events beyond his control.

The DLC reinforces the idea that the Outsider approves of positive actions, he is obviously disappointed in Daud over the assassination of the Empress as well as he is not so neutral towards Daud and criticises him about it. There isn't that much info about the Leviathan thing though, just a book or two along with some dialogue and the whalebone connection.

Seydaman:

EvilRoy:
I would go as far as to question whether a pacifistic run of the game is within the average players ability without the aid of magic.

It's pretty easy actually.

I got the "Mostly Flesh and Steel", "Clean Hands" and "Ghost" achievements all in one run. Granted, my second run, but it wasn't overly challenging.
(Complete the game without killing anyone, Finish the game without purchasing any supernatural powers or enhancements, besides Blink, Complete all missions after the prologue, alerting no one or killing no one but key targets

I'm surprised it was that easy for you, although I suppose I never actually tried it myself. There were a couple missions where I figured I wouldn't even need magic, but inevitably I would get myself in trouble and be forced to activate the rats or blink away at one point or another.

I'm surprised he doesn't go into the third ending. The ending that actually gets the Outsider to emote, as if he FINALY has something good come on the intra-dimensional TV.

AntiChri5:
You are giving the devs far too much credit.

Magic provides far more options for nonlethal gameplay then weapons do, so the idea of The Outsider tempting you by offering you the power to kill easily is bogus.

There just wasn't much communication between the narrative design folks and the gameplay design folks on this issue. They place so much narrative focus on Corvos lethality while nonlethal gameplay is an afterthought.

And even if i were to accept the argument you put forward, that would mean they deliberately made one path of the game boring, so that the player would be "tempted".

Either way, that's shit game design.

Why is he giving the developers too much credit?

Why is the Outsider tempting you "bogus?"

How do you know there "just wasn't much communication between the narrative design folks and the gameplay design folks?"

Why is it poor game design to attempt to do something like that?

For what it's worth, I thought the piece was an exceedingly thoughtful interpretation of an equally thought evoking game. Thank you, Mr. Rath!

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