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"My dear Corvo. What a sad hand fate has dealt you. The beloved Empress dead, and everyone thinks you're the killer. But we know what really happened, don't we? You don't want to end your life to the sound of idiots cheering as your head hits the muck, do you? Let's see if we can do better."
— The Outsider
Dishonored is a first-person stealth-based game set in an alternate world resembling SteampunkVictorian London, with gameplay resembling a mix of Thief, Deus Ex, BioShock, and The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay with an artstyle done by Half-Life 2's art director. You play as Corvo Attano, bodyguard to the Empress of the Isles, the land in which the game is set. You've just returned from a diplomatic mission to other neighboring countries, looking for help in dealing with the city of Dunwall's current problems with an epidemic of a deadly, rat-borne plague. Unfortunately, the Empress is killed by an unknown murderer at the beginning of the game. Corvo is framed by the corrupt Royal Spymaster, who captures the princess and installs himself as Lord Regent.Six months later, before Corvo is executed, a group of loyalists opposing the new Lord Regent arranges for his escape. After barely escaping with his life, he is visited in his dreams by a being called the Outsider, who gifts him his Mark, granting Corvo the ability to use supernatural powers. Corvo joins and serves the resistance as a Professional Killer in order to take revenge upon the Lord Regent and his corrupt, villainous government. Donning a horrific mask designed to strike terror into his foes, and using a variety of supernatural powers and practical weaponry, Corvo carves a path of terror through Dunwall. His actions, whether merciful or bloodthirsty, will decide his path- and the fate of all who live within the City.Released in North America on October 9, 2012. The UK and Australian release dates were October 12 and 11, respectively.Three pieces of Downloadable Content have been released, with the second and third being story-driven campaigns.The first DLC pack, Dunwall City Trials, was released on December 11 for $4.99 (400 Microsoft points) in North America and on December 19 in Europe. It consists of 10 challenge maps which will test and track your combat, stealth and mobility skills. There are 10 distinct trials - such as an arena battle against AI enemies, timed races, and a gravity-defying run of drop assassinations. The DLC features a new set of achievements/trophies and a global online leaderboard.The second and third DLC, Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches have you instead play as Daud, the assassin who murdered the empress and one of the game's last targets. Taking place before and during the main game, it concerns Daud receiving a message from the Outsider about his end, and the possibility of him changing his fate, ultimately leading to the encounter with Corvo in the original game.Arkane also announced the Void Walker's Arsenal on May 3rd, 2013. It is a compilation pack of all the Pre-Order Bonus content originally only available through pre-ordering the game at select retail outlets. It was released on May 14th for $4/320 Microsoft Points.A Game of the Year Edition was released in October 2013, containing all four of the DLC packs. Just like the original release, a Themed Tarot Deck was available as a Pre-Order Bonus.A sequel has been rumoured to be released in 2016, with the possibility of Emily Kaldwinbeing the new protagonist instead of Corvo.
Tropes to be found in the game:
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100% Completion: The game tells you how many collectibles you found in each level, down to the individual coins. Don't attempt this on your first playthrough, because unless you are intimately familiar with every iota of the sprawling, gigantic levels, you'll never get them all. Finding all bone charms and runes is at least doable thanks to the heart pointing them out, though, and the final level of Dark Vision shows some hidden trinkets.
Action Bomb: Mentioned, but never seen; the Abbey wanted to use wolfhounds as these, but their hound trainer refused to go along with it. You can do this to rats if you load one with a springrazor, even more so if you stop time, possess it, and move toward some unfortunate schmucks, and leave the body before it blows.
Air-Vent Passageway: Justified. You only get to use air vents when you're possessing something the size of a rat. On the flipside of things, you often see external vents on the sides of buildings and you can clamber onto them, using them as a makeshift staircase. Played straight with Dunwall Tower, which has a vent that Corvo can use to enter its interior without resorting to possession.
Alien Geometries: In the Dunwall City Trials mission "Burglar", one of the hidden passages is a dead end filled with insane scribbles of the Outsider; turning around reveals a new, different passage to a creepy Outsider shrine, and, after turning your back again, the room returns to normal with treasure.
Alignment-Based Endings: You get different endings based on how many people you killed during your playthrough, also known as Chaos.
All Crimes Are Equal: The game actually lampshades this at one point. A guard asks if he should attempt to arrest curfew-breakers, and his superior tells him that their orders are to just kill anyone who's not a guard on sight.
Granted, there is some exaggeration involved, but pretty much every mystical tale people mention is true; specifically, most stories tied to the Outsider seem at least partially accurate (though not completely).
Lampshaded after saving Slackjaw from Granny Rags. Slackjaw recall growing up hearing rumors that she was a witch and dismissing them as he grew up. He's horrified to discover it was always true.
Regular bolts fired from Corvo's crossbow or Daud's wristbow are by far the weakest weapons in their respective arsenals, namely because a bolt fired from a crossbow the size of a pistol wouldn't be very powerful. Unless you put a bolt directly into your targets' brains or sink it in them while they're unconscious, shooting an enemy three times in the chest will only make them angry. Compared to the pistol, the crossbow not only does less damage per shot, but also reloads slower and arcs over a distance; the only advantages that regular bolts have over pistol rounds is that they can quietly take down enemies and can sometimes be retrieved from enemies or whatever object they lodge themselves in. That being said, Corvo's crossbow makes up for its lack of stopping power with versatility. It can fire two types of specialized ammunition: sleep darts that can knock an enemy unconscious and incendiary bolts that light things on fire. Moreover, the crossbow can also be upgraded to have superior accuracy and range to the pistol, allowing them to pick off enemies at longer ranges, especially when combined with the image magnification lenses on Corvo's mask. Another upgrade, the automatic loading mechanism, essentially turns it into an Automatic Crossbow, completely eliminating one of the weapon's major disadvantages.
Enemies that use pistols (higher-ranked Watch officers and most Overseers) are much more common than Assassins, who use wrist-mounted crossbows. On higher difficulties, getting shot at by a pistol will take off a good chunk of your health and knock you back a few feet, while a crossbow bolt fired from an Assassin's wristbow will do less damage and fail to slow you down. However, this is offset by the fact that pistol-wielding enemies take some time lining up their sights before firing off a shot, whereas Assassins can quickly fire at Corvo without stopping for more than a second and can fire again without taking any time to reload. In-universe, this discrepancy has not gone unnoticed: a written report found in the Overseers' workshop notes that the Assassin crossbows they found are inexplicably inferior to those actually being wielded by the Assassins, and suggests that the Overseers stick to using weapons they are more familiar with.
In the case of the Tallboys, this trope is completely averted: they wield compound bows that fire deadly incendiary arrows with greater range and power than any other weapon in the game.
Anti-Magic: The Overseers have special music boxes that can cancel out the powers granted by the Outsider wherever the music can be heard.
Apocalyptic Log: Several notes and journals written by plague sufferers can be found, almost all of them in close proximity to the bodies of those who wrote them.
Applied Phlebotinum: Whale oil. Apparently, this universe has a way of treating it so as to turn it into 'trans', the most fuel-efficient substance known to man. By the time the game begins, it's used to power everything from ships to cars to stilt-walkers to lights to guns. It might have something to do with the "whales" in this world not being very much like our own. The most funny thing is: No one knows how it works. It doesn't help that there's boatloads of hinting that the 'whales' are magical.
The use of whale oil as an essential resource is also something of a Historical In-Joke: by the mid-19th century, whale oil lamps were cheap to make, but whale oil itself was expensive. Companies would sell lamps with a small quantity of oil for cheap or even give them away for free, driving out other providers of artificial lighting with a product that burned cleaner and brighter, but turned out to be very expensive to maintain. This coincided with the dawn of Yankee capitalism, which is a running theme of the game.
The first time you approach a Wall of Light at Lady Boyle's party, a nearby guard will warn Corvo (who is in disguise as a guest) that the wall is dangerous. He will do this even if Corvo has used Possession to take the form of a rat. Awfully nice for him to be so concerned for the safety of the local vermin.
Admiral Havelock in the Hound Pits Pub will do the same. Apparently he doesn't mind giving missions to (and lauding the deeds of) rats.
Any enemies who find a dead body will take it as a sign that you're nearby and search for you...even if they're the ones who killed the person in the first place.
Enemies with ranged weapons will open fire on their target even if there is an ally in front of them. As such victims are considered to be killed by Corvo himself, it can be quite frustrating to fail a Pacifist Run because a guard (who didn't even noticed you) shot a comrade while trying to kill rats.
Asshole Victim: The targets, of course. Each of them embodies some flavor of Dunwall's staggeringly corrupt aristocracy.
High Overseer Campbell is corrupt, venal and cruel, regularly breaking the strictures of the Abbey and keeping his position through blackmail.
Lords Morgan and Custis Pendleton are slave-owners who work people to death in their mines and regularly torment their younger brother in ways he barely escapes from alive.
The Ladies Boyle are distinct, and each has her own nasty secrets. As a unit, though, they manipulate their high places in society to destroy inconvenient people and exploit their servants to live in ostentatious luxury and decadence while the world decays. Their immense wealth allows them to buy and sell the law.
The Lord Regent is a dictatorial, paranoid ruler in a state of constant outrage over being unable to personally control every single aspect of Dunwall and the Empire. His brutal policies have bought the city closer to ruin with every month they exist. He had the Empress killed because he feared her approach to the plague's victims was too soft but the irony is that he brought the plague himself, trying to weed out the poor and criminal elements of the city.
Daud is the man who killed the Empress. Because he was paid and it was a job. However, while Daud is a ruthless and violent man, he has begun to fall apart with guilt over the death of the Empress and her daughter's kidnapping. His observation of Dunwall's collapse, knowing it was his own fault for helping the Regent take power, gnaws at him.
The Loyalists too, as if betraying Corvo out of lust for power was not enough.
Martin's past as a vicious criminal break through his exterior piety, and he resorts to murder to defend his own hide.
Pendleton is ultimately weak and petty. In his last moments he abandons his noble propriety to hurl insults, offer bribes, then reveal that he has squandered his wealth.
Havelock - much like the Lord Regent - becomes wildly paranoid and totally unreasonable, mad with power. In Low Chaos, he will poison Martin and Pendleton out of fear and ramble to himself in confusion over his plan falling to pieces, knowing that Corvo will come. In High Chaos, he will attempt to kill both himself and Emily by leaping from the lighthouse into the sea and dragging her down with him.
Very slightly with the City Guards, who have their officers being stronger and more competent than lesser ones. Justified, as the secret-revealing Heart describes the officers as being well-trained members of a military aristocracy.
Generally averted with the assassination targets; while all of them will fight back if attacked, most are about as good with a sword as the lowest level guard (in other words, not good at all). The Lord Regent and especially Admiral Havelock turn out to be very good fighters if confronted head-on, but have no Contractual Boss Immunity or boss-like health and thus can be taken down quite quickly regardlessly.
Corvo himself was an example before his disgrace: as the Royal Protector, one of the most esteemed positions in the Empire, he practiced his combat skills by fighting entire squads of guards on his own and winning. Justified in that prior to meeting the Empress, Corvo must have already been a very accomplished fighter in order to be selected as the Empress' bodyguard, especially as he is the first Royal Protector in history to have been born outside of the Isle of Gristol. Moreover, given the fact that the selection process generally takes place when the monarch is twelve years old and the apparent lack of any major age differences between Corvo and Empress Jessamime, it may be that Corvo became qualified for the position when he was no older than a teenager.
The Assassins' crossbows are this, though their skill with the weapons may also be a factor - a report by an Overseer artificer notes that their attempts to use captured examples of the weapons could not replicate their range, accuracy, or firing speed.
Corvo can have his crossbow upgraded to fire quickly as well, with an mechanism that automatically rewinds the weapon and loads a fresh bolt after each shot.
Creative use of your powers can lead to some truly spectacular ways of taking out Mooks such as slowing down time when someone shoots at you only to possess your assailant and make them stand in front of their own bullet; however, these are needlessly theatrical and horrifically mana-draining ways to kill one enemy, and being stealthy is ultimately the safest and most efficient thing to do in almost any given situation.
This one isn't especially creative, but it's both extremely helpful and insanely wasteful — the Bend Time/Possession combo. It's useful in virtually any situation you can name, but you shouldn't rely on it unless you've got loads of Piero's Remedies. This is actually subverted if you are playing for the Clean Hands (no kill) award. Both are highly useful for stealth runs, particularly in crowds.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: Assassins are just as surprised as anyone else when you blink out of thin air before giving them a very primitive tracheotomy. Directly referenced if you manage to get through the Flooded District without being seen, in fact. You can over-hear an Assassin inform Daud that not a single one of them saw Corvo progress through the area - said leader retorts that Corvo "knows [their] game better than [they] do".
Benevolent Architecture: Sun shades than can support the weight of two people, and large air vent passages. Although most building designers probably wouldn't factor in teleportation.
Big Bad: Hiram Burrows, who deliberately caused the plague to wipe out the poor, orchestrated the destruction of the legal government, the murder of the Empress, the abduction of the Empress's daughter and the framing of Corvo, all so he could gain power (or cover up his involvement in the plague. Once you eliminate him, Havelock takes his place, styling himself the new Lord Regent.
Big Fancy House: Anton Sokolov owns a very impressive house slash laboratory slash workshop on Kaldwin's Bridge (though he actually only appears to use a few small rooms of it as actual living space) and of course there's also the Boyle Estate in the rich district of town which really is a big, fancy house complete with its own private art gallery and expansive wine cellar, both of which Corvo can loot with impunity.
Bodyguard Betrayal: What everyone believes happened to the Empress. However, Corvo cannot do this while possessing a target's bodyguards, because during a possession, Corvo is too clumsy to use his hosts' weapons.
Much of the interaction between the Empress Jessamine Kaldwin and her Royal Protector Corvo Attano suggests they had a very close relationship. So close, indeed, that speculation exists both in-universe and out that Emily is the daughter of Corvo and Jessamine. In fact, Emily draws pictures which you can find between missions at the Hound's Pit Pub. One drawing of the Empress is labeled Mommy. A drawing of Corvo is labeled Daddy. Even The Outsider broadly hints at it.
Before the Empress' assassination, Emily will innocently wonder if, since you can't marry the Empress, if you can marry her.
Boring but Practical: Many options are less interesting than "possessing a man into walking into his own bullet" or other Rasputinian Deaths, but are far more useful and efficient. Corvo's pistol, crossbow, sword and grenades all do what they were designed to do pretty much as advertised and generally don't require turning every map inside out searching for Runes, expending costly amounts of mana, or making lots of noise. Their ammunition is also cheap and readily accumulated just about anywhere.
Then there's the conflict between Slackjaw and Granny Rags. Slackjaw is the leader of a criminal gang that specializes in brewing and selling watered-down elixir to scalp desperate families and pick on locals who can't defend themselves, while Granny Rags is a murderous, cannibalistic, Axe CrazyHumanoid Abomination that doesn't really think twice about spreading the plague to get what she wants.
Blue and Orange Morality: The Outsider, whose only discernible reason for appearing before a human and giving them otherworldly power is because he finds them amusing.
The Outsider: Sokolov believes there are specific words and acts that can compel me to appear before him. ... But if he really wants to meet me, he could start by being a bit more interesting.
Booze Flamethrower: Slackjaw's Bottle Street Gang members have this as a unique ability. If you lure some Assassins to attack the thugs just outside the distiller, it's pretty much all they'll do against them.
The "Whales" of the Dishonored world, occasionally called "Leviathans," are enormous HP Lovecraft-esque monstrosities with blubber that serves as a fantastical energy source that powers entire empires.
"Wolfhounds" are dogs with a bit of giraffe and crocodile thrown to mix things up. The term "dog" is never used to refer to them, always "hound".
Not entirely true, as Samuel mentions that old kennel contains nothing but dried dog poop. Might be just design oversight by developers however.
Canned Orders Over Loudspeaker: Constantly. This is one of the things that make it stand out against most comparable steampunk quasi-Victorian settings, and also one of the areas its Half Life 2 inspiration becomes clear. You can meet the guy who does these announcements in one of the later missions — he helps you take out the Lord Regent non-lethally. If you kill him, he gets replaced for the rest of the game by a woman (Carrie Fisher, in fact).
City Guards: The primary Mooks of the game, in three versions of increasing power and authority.
Clear My Name: Corvo must get the Empress' daughter back to prove he didn't murder the Empress.
Climax Boss: Daud, if you choose to fight him. He's encountered late in the game, is the man who killed the Empress, and is one of the few characters who knows Corvo is connected to the Outsider. He is extremely difficult to take by surprise, and using powers near him will instantly alert him, prompting him to stop time so you can fight uninterrupted.
Church Militant/Cape Busters: The Overseers are a martial branch of the Abbey of the Everyman, who are dedicated to combating those empowered by the Outsider. They wear dark navy uniforms, scary facemasks, and make use of special sound devices that disrupt Outsider-based powers. They're reminiscent of the Hammerites from Thief.
Almost by default, especially when Corvo is up against the average guard. When you've been given supernatural powers by a Humanoid Abomination that allows you to do things like summon a Swarm of Rats to eat people alive, there's really no such thing as a fair fight. Also enforced by design: Corvo isn't really equipped to fight several attackers conventionally, so he has to use pragmatism. Attempting to go toe-to-toe with multiple enemies, even if you block and counter perfectly, usually ends up with Corvo getting chipped away by any enemy with a ranged attack while guards swing harmlessly through each other to hurt you.
This can be used with your standard weapons as well: most regular enemies will only use a sword. One can run up to you, do a lot a feinting back and forth and making a big show with their weapon, then you can just pull out your crossbow, shoot him in the leg, then stab him to death after he falls to the ground clutching his injury. Or, you can dose him with a sleep dart, let him fall asleep in front of you, then kill him however you please while he's defenseless.
Contractual Boss Immunity: The major boss fights in the game and DLC, Daud, Billie Lurk, and Delilah, are all immune or resistant to the majority of powers and gadgets, and also cannot be one-hit-killed except with stealth attacks. The Torturer also resists most of Corvo's powers and gadgets, though not to the same extent as the other "boss" characters.
Cool Mask: Corvo's mask. It defends against The Plague, as well as providing a zoom function when upgraded.
Corrupt Church: Ever since the death of the empress, the Overseers from the Abbey of the Everyman have become corrupted. The High Overseer intentionally breaks every one of the seven strictures every day as his own little joke.
Crapsack World: The game's world has a plague running rampant, insta-kill Disintegrator Gates forcing average citizens to stay in the infected areas, infected areas filled with Weepers who cry blood and attack other people, and the wealthy using their money to throw extravagant parties rather than using it to solve any problems. The whole world is like this, really. Civilization, as far as we know, only exists on a handful of islands out in the middle of the ocean, separated from the "Pandyssian Continent" by a treacherous stretch of water that people have only recently begun to navigate. The continent itself is uncharted, unexplored and suspected by most to be either barren or teeming with murderous monsters (though there are coastal settlements that tend to have everyone in them go insane). This paranoid suspicion of all things outside of the Isles Empire is shared by a good part of the population; this is a world where people are scared. Even the state religion, the "Abbey of the Everyman", is based on the belief that the Universe is an unknowable Lovecraftian expanse, "swarming with all manner of dangerous spirits and forces, most of which are hostile to man’s existence", and foremost among these is the Outsider. This bleakness even extends to the academia of the world, Sokolov's writing on cosmology state that the world is "adrift in a sea of howling chaos" and "all heavenly bodies orbit a devouring core" (possibly the Void) which will, in time, consume every star and all of their planets.
Crapsaccharine World: For the wealthy, it's more this kind of world. They have nothing to do but gossip, bully and threaten to kill each other, and indulge in soulless, materialistic parties where they do much the same.
Becomes A World Half Full if you get the good/low chaos ending. A new golden age begins as the conspirators are brought to justice, Sokolov and Piero cure the rat plague, Dunwall rebuilds, and Emily grows up to become a benevolent ruler.
Creator Thumbprint: The Half Life 2 lineage becomes particularly apparent when you look at the shape and architecture of the angular metal guard booths installed around the city.
This game has a lot of candidates for the trope, but so far the top contenders are 'proximity landmine made of springloaded razorwire' and 'devoured by magically summoned swarm of enraged plague rats.'
Some of Corvo's non-lethal neutralizations may seem like this.
Cruel Mercy: Yes, you can do a Pacifist Run and let your targets live. Of course, you still need to "neutralize" them, which could mean anything up to and including having them kidnapped, disfigured, and put to work as slaves in their own mine until they die. In some ways this ties into both the game's title, and its theme of revenge. Either way you're getting you revenge on those responsible for destroying your life, but you can either kill them outright, or dishonor them, in the same way they did to you.
A run-down of Cruel Mercies: One branded a heretic and cast out of society, to be found later dying of plague. Two condemned to horrific slavery as described above. One given over to her creepy stalker to be his wife. One condemned to die by his confession, broadcast over the PA, and taken away to sweat it out awaiting his execution rather than a quick end. Only one can be spared any kind of real retribution at your hands.
Cult: The Outsider dismisses the Abbey of the Everyman as "that cult dedicated to loathing me," though they're a state-sponsored, long-established, heavily militarised set of traditions with a lot of political pull. He's powerful and old enough that something like that just looks like a passing fad.
Cute and Psycho: Emily, in a High Chaos run. She talks about filling two ships with people and slamming them into each other, For the Evulz. Callista notes that she's become violent and creepy, especially when Corvo is around.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: In most stealth games, sneaking revolves around staying in the dark, and you can often hide from someone by standing in a shadow even if they're looking right at you. Sneaking in Dishonored is based on line of sight, with light and noise being secondary, which requires a different mindset and takes some getting used to.
Death by Irony: The pacifist options, which typically result in the villains getting their comeuppance (such as the Pendleton twins ending up as slaves in their own mines).
Death from Above: Drop-assassination. Just jump down on an enemy, attack them as you fall and watch the blood fly. It's also possible to drop hanging objects on guards by striking them with your sword.
Death World: Every non-domesticated animal life form you encounter can easily kill you. All fish are more akin to piranhas (with a bit of moray eel thrown in) and bite you when you step into nearly any body of water, there are carnivorous rat packs, horrible mollusks called "river krusts" that spit acid gather on the undersides of waterways and it's stated that this is all just the tip of the iceberg. Accounts of the Pandyssian Continent state it's full of even more hostile wildlife, such as porcupines that are poisonous enough to kill you with one sting. People in this world have a "everything wild is trying to kill us!" mentality, mirroring similar 18th-Century European sentiments, except here it's true.
Despair Event Horizon: Havelock either poisons his co-conspirators to protect himself, or the two of them commit suicide in fear of Corvo's retribution. It's left ambiguous, although Havelock is clearly raging against the world. When you come across the bodies, the admiral can be heard ranting about how all the defenses and troops in the world will do nothing to stop Corvo. Sooner or later, he'll breach the defenses and find them.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Zig-zagged. The developers have put a lot of thought into what a player might do (variety of entry routes, violent to pacifist runs, etc), yet a lot of things they didn't consider (deflecting missiles with wind, "I just made a level designer cry!" platforming, etc) are still mechanically possible. However, a fair number of very interesting things can happen, given the circumstances:
Try throwing something (or shooting) at a Wall of Light just as a guard is walking through it.
In a humorous moment, if you drink the cider next to High Overseer Campbell during the prologue as he's getting his portrait painted by Sokolov, when you eventually find it again as a Sokolov Painting treasure item it will be missing the cider bottle at the lower left side. Sokolov even mentions that the cider was there to draw attention away from Campbell, and that he needs to paint over it since Corvo took it.
Also notable is that every level can be completed without killing anyone (as per the "Clean Hands" achievement/trophy which only allows you to neutralize targets). Even if the player manages to get high chaos whilst remaining pacifist, the final map in the dark ending, which urges the player to kill the remaining villains, can be done without killing anyone; Pendleton is wounded in a dispute with Martin, and will die from his wounds; Martin will commit suicide by pistol if approached alone; and Havelock will jump to his death if Corvo does not intervene.
During the mission to neutralize Campbell, pretty much any possible outcome is accounted for, up to and including you preemptively stealing the Solokov painting in Campbell's secret room before he leads Curnow down there - which itself only happens if you smash both wineglasses. Additionally, Curnow will attack you if you show yourself at any point during the mission. Unless you smash both wineglasses, follow the two down to the secret room, remain unseen, and wait until Campbell draws his sword to kill Curnow before you take Campbell down. If all of those conditions are met, Curnow will acknowledge that you have saved his life, and instead choose to look the other way and flee the compound rather than alert the Overseers to your presence. Even the official guide doesn't mention this.
Sometimes guards will notice that other guards are missing and even briefly patrol in the area where they know their friend ought to be. Never consider any place "cleared" unless there really are zero guards!
In one late game mission, one assassin is training another assassin, who looks away for a lengthy time as part of the training. If you take out the instructor and hide the body, the trainee will return to where he last saw his master, draw his sword, and immediately (and quietly) begin looking for the intruder.
If you have Slackjaw take care of the Pendleton brothers in House of Pleasure and then cause the death of a thug or weeper in his territory, you get a non-standard game over because you just became enemies with the only person who can handle the Pendleton brothers.
If you kill Slackjaw when you see him, Granny Rags will thank you for killing him and saving her the trouble when you need to get the key from either him or Granny Rags in The Flooded District.
Certain areas have walls covered in posters of all sorts. The posters present (and their content) will vary depending on how the game has been played. For example, if the Pendleton twins are disposed of non-lethally, missing persons posters reporting their disappearance and asking for information will appear rather than the bounty for their murderer.
If you empty Art Dealer Bunting's safe before giving the combination to Slackjaw (who plans to do the same), the latter will call you a "cheater" next time you meet him.
In Lady Boyle's Last Party, the Outsider's dialogue will change if you retrieve the rune from the shrine after eliminating Lady Boyle. Likewise if you take the rune from Granny Rags's shrine after dealing with Campbell during the High Overseer mission - indeed, any time you can take a rune and complete a major objective in either order, the Outsider will have different dialogue depending which you do first and how.
Daud's final comment will be altered if Corvo wanders off before Daud actually finishes talking, or if Corvo walks away entirely after Daud's speech concludes. Additionally, if you spare said character with Low Chaos, their guards are no longer be hostile toward Corvo and will let him walk around freely.
Should the player backtrack to the gatehouse at Lady Boyle's party and eat the apple in front of the guard, he will comment "My apple! Who do you think you are?" CORVO!
If you don't release Griff during "High Overseer Campbell", then when you return to the area during "House of Pleasure", you'll find that he has become a Weeper.
If you commit a crime after returning to Dunwall (but before giving the letter to the Empress) and commit a crime such as jumping on a soldier's head, the game ends and says that Corvo was arrested for committing a felony.
In a high chaos run of the last mission, Pendleton is trapped in Martin's siege of Kingsparrow Island. They provoke each other until Martin pulls out his gun and goes for a shot. There are several ways for this scene to end:
Straight through the script: Martin misses his shot, is further provoked by Pendleton and moves up to his quarters to devise a plan on how to get to him.
While hidden, you shoot and kill Pendleton before Martin fires his gun, surprising him and asking around who made the shot.
You make your presence known by shooting and killing Pendleton while out in the open (or by going to his hiding place to execute him there), wherein Martin will acknowledge your presence.
You shoot and kill Martin before he leaves, wherein Pendleton will congratulate you on dispatching him and then immediately offer a bounty on your head.
You shoot Pendleton in the head and kill him at the same time Martin would miss with his shot, wherein Martin will say "Nice shot!"
When you're introduced to the Hounds Pit Pub, should you decide to first enter the place by climbing through the servant room window (it must be your first ever time entering the building), it'll trigger some unique dialogue from Lydia as you startle her.
Late in the second mission, it is possible to find three Overseers and a woman arguing. One will be trying to defend the woman, who is his sister, while the others believe she's a witch and are attempting to kill her. If you let the scene play out, both the woman and the defending Overseer will be killed. If you attempt to intervene before they've finished talking, all three Overseers will turn on you because there was no immediate danger. If you intervene after they've finished talking, disable both attacking Overseers but manage to keep the defending Overseer and his sister alive, they'll thank you and reward you with a nearby safe combination.
Several powers work together and are best used in combination. Possession and Devouring Swarm allows you to summon a rat to possess anywhere you like. Bend/Stop Time and Blink together create enough speed to get you out of almost any trouble you can imagine. Blood Thirsty and Vitality will make you unstoppable in blade combat.
If you kill the Announcer in the Sixth mission, then he will be replaced for the rest of the game by a woman.
Devil but No God: The Abbey of the Everyman views the Outsider as an evil, corrupting influence, but there's no mention of a "good" counterpart in their dogma. In fact the Outsider is closer to serving the functions of both Satan and God - corrupter, inspiration, agent of creation as well as that of destruction, and general observer of the machinations of life with a side of Blue and Orange Morality. He gives humans powers to see what they'll do with them, and basically acts as a sort of trickster god rather than an arbiter of morality.
Difficulty Spike: There are many examples of this. The introduction of Tallboys, The Flooded District guarded by assassins that teleport here and there as a part of patrolling. Justified in that taking advantage of how easy it is to simply kill and alert everything rather than stealth causes high chaos which affects the difficulty of the final level.
The Outsider: I'm older than the rocks this place is built from, and even I didn't see that coming.
Down in the Dumps: The worst possible kind: not a garbage dump for trash, but for all the bodies that are stacking up because of the plague. A new train keeps coming to dump dozens more each minute.
Dowsing Device: The Heart. Which is, in fact, a human heart, with some mechanical additions courtesy of the Outsider. It speaks. It's implied that the Heart came from the late Empress.
The Dragon: Played with. The High Overseer is in on the conspiracy with the Lord Regent, but he's also the first target eliminated. Daud may also qualify for this role, as the man who actually carried out the Empress' assassination, but he was only hired for that job and is not encountered again until after the Lord Regent is defeated. Of course, in hindsight this might make sense when you realize YOU'RE the villain's Dragon.
Dragon with an Agenda: Daud certainly has his own objectives unrelated to the Lord Regent. And of course, Corvo is only interested in rescuing and protecting Emily, not Havelock's ambitions.
Dramatic Unmask: The player has the option to do this if they kill the Regent personally in his saferoom.
Dresses, Gowns and Skirts: Interestingly, there are almost no skirts in this setting. Even the Empress and Princess Emily wear regal, formal-looking pantaloons. The courtesans at the The Golden Cat are an exception, but given their profession, it's expected.
Edmond Roseburrow, the natural philosopher who invented trans. After he approved of a project to make trans into weapons, and those weapons were used to oppress and subjugate the populace, he took one of his new creations, and used it to put a bullet into his brain.
During the mission "The Flooded District", a wounded thug tells you where to get a key. In the high chaos version of the mission, you hear a gunshot when you get far enough away from him. Turning back reveals that the thug shot himself. Given who he just fought, what he witnessed, and the amount of rats swarming everywhere, it was for the best.
Teague Martin, if you confront him in the High Chaos final level without attacking.
Drowning My Sorrows: Samuel alludes to this when Corvo and him return from Lady Boyle's last party.
Samuel: Hmm, Lord Pendleton said he would meet us here. I'd check the wine cellar. Losing family gives a man a thirst.
Dystopia Is Hard: One of the way that the Loyalists plan to whittle down the Lord Regent's power is to remove his financial backing. Throughout the game you witness evidence that your enemies don't quite have the manpower they'd like patrolling key areas, and those that they have tend to be so underpaid that the low-ranking guardsmen sometimes tend to supplement their paltry elixir ration with the black-market stuff.
Earn Your Bad Ending: Sort of. On higher difficulties violent path becomes significantly harder while stealth remains the same. Getting High Chaos ending is much harder and requires much more save scumming that way.
The Assassins. They're much more alert than other enemies, move more quickly and have a few magical abilities of their own - including Blink, which makes their patrol routes much less predictable.
Slightly lower than them on the scale are Overseers, particularly the Overseers with an anti-magic instrument on their chest. In addition to disrupting your powers, the thing is so big it blocks pretty much all frontal attacks. All Overseers also wear big metal masks that prevent frontal headshots.
Also, Tallboys. Who walk on stilts, preventing melee attacks (unless you Blink up to them), wear thick armor that makes them sleep dart proof, use shields that stop ranged attacks, and use bows with explosive arrows.
Empathic Environment: Getting seen, leaving witnesses and murdering people will lead to high chaos, which increases the spread of the plague in later levels through panic and death. Taken Up to Eleven in the level at Kingsparrow Isle Lighthouse; while having low chaos will lead to a standard level, having high chaos means the level is in a heavy storm, there are more guards, and there is a much darker, cynical ending.
End of an Age: Invoked by The Heart. "I can feel a great age ending..."
Et Tu, Brute?: The non-lethal way to deal with Burrows is to broadcast his evil boasting publicly, which leads to a scene where his own guards arrest him for fear of backlash. Also invoked in the late plot with the Loyalists, who decide Corvo is better off dead and try to assassinate him.
Everything Trying to Kill You: You can find part of a log Sokolov made about an expedition to the continent. Apparently, there are schools of quite literal flying fish that attack and poison anything they can touch, winds strong enough to throw people off the deck, massive flying serpents, rats that can eat people alive, and prairie moles that can poison people. In addition to that, there is potentially magical whale-song that drives people mad, and at least one person who was found dead from nothing identifiable, but with a look of absolute terror on his face. Less than half the crew survived the crossing. And apparently that was one of the better expeditions.
Evil Is Easy: Somewhat zigzagged. On one hand, with Corvo's impressive arsenal of lethal weapons and spells, it's considerably easier (and tempting) to complete the game with a High Chaos run where you kill every guard you come across than it it is than it is to take the pacifist or even Low Chaos route and abstain from using the cool stuff. On the other hand, going the High Chaos route will also make the world more dangerous, filling it up with more rats, weepers, and higher security measures.
Exact Eavesdropping: Averted. Random guards could be seen talking about a girl they met, but chambermaids or personal bodyguards could talk about important information regarding targets.
Exact Words: Corvo can utilize this trope during the "Lady Boyle's Last Party" mission if he talks to Lord Brisby first. Corvo then has the option of telling Lady Boyle that someone is there to assassinate her, but that he knows of a way to save her life. He's entirely correct, and hasn't twisted the truth in the least. He's just leaving out the part where the assassin is himself.
Exposition Fairy: The Heart, although it only gives you backstory information, and that only on command.
Extremely Short Timespan: Discounting the prologue, the entirety of the main game (which involves usurping almost the entire government of a kingdom) takes place within only a few days, helped by the fact that Corvo is sent out onto another mission almost always immediately after the last one up to three times in a single day.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Arkane states that Dunwall is based on London circa 1666, just after the Great Fire, during the last parts of the Black Plague - timeshifted to the 19th Century. Culture counterparts range further outside Dunwall, in the rest of the Isles - there's a fantasy Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Africa, Celtic Isles and others, and generous cultural swapping between all of them.
Gristol - where Dunwall is and the effective capital of the Isles - is Britain and especially England, while some of the accents and the dominant role it plays have shades of the US and Canada.
Serkonos is "Greece or Italy" with at least some Spanish, judging on the local names. Corvo's place of origin as well as Daud's.
In the second mission and with low Chaos, a plague-bearing overseer can be seen asking his friends to kill him, as he does not wish to spread the disease. They oblige him via sword as he kneels and recites the seven strictures.
Daud is quite dignified if you choose to confront him after defeating him.
Face-Heel Turn: Martin, Pendleton, and Havelock attempt to have Corvo killed and establish Emily as their own puppet once the Lord Regent is taken out.
The Faceless: Played With through Corvo; his face can be seen on several occasions: on some wanted posters throughout the game; the difficulty screen; as a secret drawing by Emily, which is unlocked if you're a pacifist; and during the endings.
Fake Ultimate Mook: The Tallboys. Extremely imposing, incredibly powerful, and able to be taken down in one shot from a stealth kill, or shot from behind.
Ironically, a Pacifist Run will actually result in far more gruesome fates for the conspirators than just death: High Overseer Campbell is excommunicated, and the next time you see him he's a plague-infested weeper in the Flooded District; Lady Boyle spends the rest of her life as a prisoner, separated from her sisters and held captive by a man who's obsessed with her; the Pendleton twins get their tongues cut out and are forced to work in their own silver mines; Burrows is arrested by his own guards and shot dead; and Daud spends the rest of his life tormented by the memories of his crimes.
After you take down the High Overseer, an audio file found in the Admiral's room has him wondering if Corvo might be dangerous to him due to his obvious skills.
Reading his diary earlier than that will net you one giant foreshadow: he ponders if he could just take power for himself.
When Corvo visits the Void upon meeting the Outsider for the first time, he sees Emily with the Pendleton twins in the Golden Cat.
If you talk to Cecilia, she may say that if the City Watch invades their hideout, she'll "know how to hide". When Havelock and Co. have betrayed you and killed all the servants, guess who's the only one still around?
The music box found on the first real mission and the various documents surrounding serve to forewarn the player about the music box carrying overseers encountered later in the game.
Right after you finish off Campbell, search Pendleton's room before and after you go to bed and you'll find a letter and an audiograph pertaining to his brothers, and if you talk to him before heading down to deal with the weepers in the sewer he'll ask Corvo if he has siblings. Guess who your next targets are. Also, throughout the first two levels you can find tidbits about a party thrown at the Boyle mansion, and an invitation in Bunting's apartment, which alludes to where you'll have to go after dealing with Sokolov.
Force-Field Door: The "Pillars of Light" made by Sokolov, a lethal electrical field that fries anyone who the device hasn't been attuned to (or vice-versa). While they're usually flat vertical "doors", there are mobile emitters that will fry anything coming inside its Instant Death Radius.
Averted for the player in all cases other than Emily, though you'll get a Non Standard Game Over if you kill allies that are still important to the plot.
For the mooks, played straight with swords, but averted when it comes to guns. Getting a pistol-wielding guard to accidentally shoot one of his buddies several times is an achievement, even!
Averted with Arc Pylons. While normally (meaning they have not been hacked by the player) they will avoid targeting anyone designated "friendly" (like guards) and only target unknowns (like the player) it will not hold its fire if a friendly is between the Arc Pylon and its target. An unaware guard might find himself vaporized by a pylon he thought himself safe from if the player decides to juuuuuust creep into the pylon's targeting range...
Full-Circle Revolution: After helping the Loyalist Conspiracy topple the corrupt regime that rose to power by using Corvo as the fall guy, the Loyalists then insert themselves into the now empty positions and use him as the fall guy again in order to legitimize their claim to power.
A minor example, but it's there; if you choose to eliminate your targets non-lethally in an otherwise High Chaos run, wanted posters will still say you murdered them, and character dialogue about your past targets will act as though you did them in. Possibly Lampshaded by Pendleton, who rewards you for not killing his brothers, but says that he doesn't want to talk about it.
You can use the zoom function, even if Corvo isn't wearing his mask.
Gas Mask Mooks: A number of guardsmen can be seen wearing surgical masks. Actual gas masks are worn by the Assassins, probably because their hangout is Plague Central.
Dr. Galvanni. You can go to his office twice, you find various logs he's written on studying the plague, but the man himself never shows up.
Some animals are mentioned but never appear. Kingsparrow feathers can be found, but the actual birds can't (presumably because possession would allow flight, which would be broken). The mysterious Whales don't appear (alive) either, meaning possession can't reveal their secrets.
A live whale makes an appearance in The Knife of Dunwall. Conveniently, the protagonist of that scenario lacks Corvo's possession ability.
Go Mad from the Revelation: In the third Tales from Dunwall, Piero starts to have visions of death (or maybe the Outsider), which leads to the invention of Corvo's mask.
Hiram Burrows decided that an outbreak of plague would be the best way to Kill the Poor in Dunwall. He was right; it wiped out at least half the city and there was nothing he could do afterward that could contain or get rid of it.
Good Is Not Nice: A "Hands Clean" playthrough will, among other things, see you condemn a priest to living in the gutters, catching the plague, and turning into a Weeper; having two men hideously disfigured and sent into a life of slavery; and handing an unconscious woman over to a man who says he's going to keep her locked up for the rest of her life. Corvo may be on the side of right but do not cross him.
Guide Dang It: The best outcome of some quests requires some specific actions that aren't immediately obvious; you can stumble upon them by chance, or you can consult the wiki...
Guilt-Based Gaming: Dishonored excels at making the player feel like a complete and total monster if they kill anyone but the specified target. You killed that maid because she caught sight of you and was about to start screaming? You get to hear her boyfriend talking to his buddy about how he's going to propose to her. You killed that Overseer who was about to attack you in perceived self-defense? He might have been the one who warned his friend about the friend's sister about to be accused of being a witch and that she needs to run. You killed that guard who yelled for help? You get to hear his friends snarling that you just made his wife a widow. Nice work, You Bastard.
Hazardous Water: Fish will sometimes attack Corvo should he be in the water with them.
His Name Is...: One of Slackjaw's lackeys tries to investigate who's been murdering his gang members and records an audiograph as a message once he finds out. He spends way too much time saying "I can't believe who it was!" and by the time he gets around to the actually useful part of the message the murderer has caught up with him.
One common tactic: when an enemy fires a projectile at you, freeze time, possess them, have them run in front of their own projectile, leave the body, and unfreeze time. Hilarity Ensues.
When you go after the Lord Regent, if an alarm sounds, he will hide in a safe house at the top of his castle. It's possible to circumvent the Wall Of Light that serves as his last defense, use a rewiring tool to turn it deadly to enemies instead of you, knock the Lord Regent unconscious, then toss him into the wall that was supposed to protect him from you. Or you can go to his saferoom first, before the alarm is sounded, subvert the wall, then set off the alarm deliberately. He will naturally enough race to his saferoom and immediately get vaporized on the way in. Or rewire the Walls near to the staircase and then expose his crimes - which is normally the pacifist route for this mission. The guards will arrest the Lord Regent and march him out of the mansion through the rewired Wall, incinerating the Regent in front of them. This is counted as Corvo killing the Lord Regent for Chaos purposes, though.
When leaving to assassinate Campbell Callista informs you that he's planning to poison her uncle because he's not corrupt like his other men. When you arrive to the meeting room before the men enter, you can switch their glasses, and Campbell end up being poisoned by the very same concoction he had ordered to be shipped for his own, dirty deeds.
Shadows are much, much less pronounced than in Thief (or Splinter Cell, for that matter), even with a relatively low gamma setting. They're also less central to the game's stealth mechanic, which relies more on avoiding line-of-sight than hiding in darkness.
Oddly enough, averted in one scene that is a direct homage to Thief, where an Assassin watches an apprentice make his way through a shadowy obstacle course.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Invoked by the crappy situation Dunwall is in, as well as by the Outsider himself indirectly: he only ever grants powers to people who interest him, but every single example in the game of a person with magic (including possibly Corvo) seems to abuse these powers heavily rather then using them for decent purposes. The Outsider himself actually doesn't compel them to do this in any way, instead leaving it up to them exactly what they do with them. In fact, should Corvo spare Daud, the assassin who killed the Empress, he will mention that he finds Corvo even more fascinating, because when he had the chance to take his revenge he did not do so.
The Outsider, according to the Abbey of the Everyman. Considering that we know nothing about him, and considering what he can do, they may be right.
Granny Rags, while she may have once been human, appears to have left her humanity somewhere behind her. Until late in the game, it is impossible to kill her, and she possesses some of the same powers Corvo has.
Humiliation Conga: What you inflict on High Overseer Campbell if you go the non-lethal route. First, you use a chemical brand to mark his face forever. Next, he is banished from his luxurious and decadent lifestyle, forced to scrounge for scraps to survive as it is literally a crime for anyone to try to help him. Finally, he contracts the plague and lives out his final days in squalor and agony, cursing your name. To top things off, you can choose to kill him or just knock him out again if you happen upon him.
Worship of the Outsider is considered witchcraft and heretical by the Overseers in the Abbey of the Everyman. Keeping runes or bone charms is a sign of witchcraft. Accusations of worshipping the outsider are levied against troublemakers to discredit them. Yet almost every person who is rich or in a position of power keeps runes of the Outsider amongst their most precious possessions.
Campbell, the High Overseer, breaks every single one of the Seven Strictures every day. According to The Heart, it is his own little joke.
After Corvo brings Campbell's little black book of blackmail info back to the Loyalists, Teague Martin (an Overseer himself) bemoans how the High Overseer used blackmail to control the Abbey of the Everyman. Continue talking to Martin and he will, without the slightest dissonance, enthusiastically begin to explain how the Loyalists can use Campbell's blackmail info to bend the Abbey to their cause.
Idiot Ball: Corvo is forced to hold this when the crown loyalists betray him. He is forced to drink from a poisoned cup in a rather suspicious cutscene, which could be understood. However, right after drinking the cup his vision goes blurry and if he even knocks out the traitors that clearly just poisoned him it causes a game over.
Interestingly, in that very same scenario, the Loyalists might hold it as well, depending on your Chaos (more pronounced on Low). Trying to kill a supernatural assassin you outfitted with a huge arsenal of useful and deadly gadgets who has proven to be ludicrously effective and is fiercely protective of your future puppet ruler (already a questionable idea)? You should make absolutely, completely sure that it works the first time, because you won't get a second try. And who do they choose to deliver the poison? Samuel, one of the most ethical and honest people in the game. Depending on what you did up until then, this can border on Too Dumb to Live.
I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Pandyssia's name means, roughly, "all that is bad" ("pan" as in Pangaea, "dys" as in dystopia). It's a supercontinent full of hideous and dangerous wildlife that will gladly snack on any humans they find, and people who visit tend to die or go mad and then die.
Impoverished Patrician: It is rumored that the Pendletons recently became this with suggestions that the family's silver mines are almost out. In the High Chaos ending, Pendleton admits that he is broke.
Infant Immortality: Averted in the Worst Ending, as failing to stop Havelock results in Emily's death. Played straight in that you can't kill or harm Emily (you can kill other allied NPCs, though doing so causes an instant game over).
Item Amplifier: Certain bone charms give increase the health and magic received when you use restorative elixirs.
Item Crafting: Implied but not actually used, at least not for you, the player. You find various valuable items all around the city and collect them, but they just get converted to instant cash for your convenience. Pierro explains that he sells anything you find on the "black market." However, there's a letter to Pierro from Havelock that saying "We can't give you copper wire and Kingfeathers! Go find your own!" and these two items happen to be two of the common Vendor Trash items you collect. It's possible an earlier version of the game had you collect this stuff for more direct item crafting rather than a simple cash exchange.
Just Following Orders: Eavesdrop on guards and you'll find they tend to range from true believers to just happy to not have the plague.
This has become the upper-class policy for dealing with the plague. As long as the plague remains isolated to everyone who isn't wealthy and/or noble, they pay no mind to it, and let the government deal with it. This is essentially a national policy mirroring Masque Of The Red Death.
Following the Red Death comparison, and given that Corvo can summon armies of plague rats, it is possible to bring the plague to the dinner party of at least one major noble, making it a good deal harder to ignore.
Kansas City Shuffle: One way of taking out Lady Boyle non-lethally is to warn her that there is a plot to assassinate her. You can then advise her to take shelter in the cellar, where you can then knock her out and leave her for Lord Brisby.
Karma Houdini: Annoyingly, you get no option to call Pendleton out on sending you to fight a duel to the death with Shaw without in any way warning you that was what was about happen. Admittedly he doesn't do too well in the long run anyway, but it's still irritating.
Karma Meter: There is a "Chaos" stat that basically tallies how many people you kill. This will directly affect what kind of ending you get and the state of the next stage. The in-universe justification is that more bodies means more rats, and more rats means more plague. Indeed, leave enough dead bodies around, and rats come a-feastin' (but the ability that turns the bodies into dust doesn't help). The Chaos meter also determines how much rioting there is - again, it makes sense that the guard will be tighter and more violent the more people, especially guards, are dead.
Kleptomaniac Hero: Corvo can steal a variety of items for cash to buy upgrades/supplies. This includes large paintings several times his size. The game even tells you exactly how much coins-worth of items you left behind.
Knight Templar: The Overseers in general, they are known to practice Burn the Witch! and will abduct anyone who they suspect to practice witchcraft or have anything to do with the Outsider. Their base even has torture implements they use to interrogate captives.
Lady and Knight: As the Royal Protector, Corvo serves as the knight to Jessamine's lady. With her death, Emily becomes the new lady he is sworn to protect.
La Résistance: The Loyalists, who break Corvo out of prison and help him take down the Lord Regent.
Laser-Guided Karma: In a no kill run, Corvo is this trope embodied: The High Overseer is branded as a blasphemer against his own faith and forever expelled, forced to live as a begger for what little remains of his life. The Pendleton brothers are disfigured and forced to live as slaves in their own mines. Lady Boyle, a well known woman of loose virtues who is financially backing the Lord Regent, is forced to live as essentially the sex slave of one of her admirers. The Lord Regent is taken away to be tried and executed for his manifold crimes. And Loyalists all come apart, tearing themselves to shreds due to the same selfishness and blind ambition that led them to try to kill Corvo.
Lighthouse Point: Kingsparrow Island has a heavily fortified military base with a huge lighthouse in the center of it, with the base's war room located at the top of it. You climb the thing in the final mission.
Dr. Galvanni, the unseen plague researcher. According to his maid, rat guts get all over the place in his lab.
Sokolov is a more villanous example: his Lack of Empathy leads to him kidnapping random people off the street and performing disfiguring, lethal experiments on them. The lady he's menacing when you take him alive? He dispassionately expects her skin to melt off and have her die of painful exposure and blood loss, and he's hoping the flesh melts off completely.
Refreshingly averted in the backstory: magic doesn't work consistently or on command, generally because the Outsider doesn't care to show up and grant his Mark to people he deems uninteresting. Once you do have the Mark, however, magic works swimmingly.
There's also the case of the runes and whalebone charms. Runes are ancient artifacts that predate Dunwall itself, having been crafted by a long-gone, Outsider-worshipping civilization millennia ago; people frequently find them washed up on the beach and buried in the riverbed, and nobles keep them as good-luck charms (though they generally bring anything but). Bone charms are made by superstitious whalers to grant them good luck at sea, but generally give people headaches and some even seem to attract plague rats. The implication is that only people marked by the Outsider can use these things.
Blow You Away: "Windblast" creates a blast of wind powerful enough to smash through weak doors and even kill people that have been thrown into a wall.
Demonic Possession: "Possession" lets the user jump inside anything from rats to fish to people, including assassination targets, and control them. You can even jump inside a rat, sneak through a hole in a fence, and then jump back out on the other side.
Double Jump: "Agility" allows the user to jump while in the air.
No Body Left Behind: Enemies killed with the "Shadow Kill" technique leave behind only a pile of dust, taking away the need to hide them.
Summon Magic: The "Devouring Swarm" technique summons a Swarm of Rats to devour or distract enemies. However, if there aren't any enemies in sight, they will attack the caster instead. Daud, in the DLC, is capable of summoning assassins who get to share his powers.
Super Senses: "Dark Vision" gives the user X-Ray Vision and the ability to see other peoples' line of sight. Depending on your brightness setting, it may help or hinder your ability to see in the dark.
Time Stands Still: "Bend Time" allows the user to either slow or stop the flow of time for a short time. Daud's version of Blink freezes time while it's being aimed, for no cost, so long as you aren't pressing any of the movement buttons, or jump.
One way of looking at the world is that whales are mystical creatures: all your magic power upgrades come from charms and runes made of the bones of whales. Their glowing oil would therefore be some sort of magical combustible, and so all the technology in the city is Magitek: machines running on magic.
The Heart you get is also a fusion of science and magic; it's got a mechanism keeping it alive and pumping (and talking).
There are targets you can take out this way, such as filling a steam room at full blast. (The Achievement for doing that, in fact, is "An Unfortunate Accident".)
You can just knock out the other brother, lift him up and toss him off a balcony, making his death look like a suicide.
Malevolent Masked Men: With their scary, scowling masks and foul tempers, the Overseers are rarely bringers of good news, even if you don't practice forbidden magic.
Corvo wears a horrifying skull-shaped mask and a dark hood, and stalks people in the night. For those who see him, he must look like the manifestation of Death itself.
Samuel:Seems like I carry Death with me wherever I go.
May-December Romance: Lollygag enough in the intro, and Emily will innocently ask that, if Corvo can't marry the Empress, maybe he could marry her.
Meaningful Background Event: As part of the Kaldwin's Bridge mission, the player must disable the water floodlights on the bridge approach so that Samuel can extract Corvo after finding his target and they can get away under cover of darkness. If the player looks off over the water after disabling the floodlights, you can see a distant Samuel in his little skiff moving from the position where he dropped Corvo off to where he will pick him up later.
Mix-and-Match Critters: Where do we start? Well, how about with the whales? They might be normal animals rather than Lovecraftian horrors, but that doesn't stop them from having tentacles, scales, and other things that probably should not go on a mammal.
Multiple Endings: The ending will change depending on your Chaos (kill number) stat. Also, in a High Chaos run, the ending changes based on whether or not you manage to save Emily. In total, there are 3:
Low Chaos: Corvo manages to make it to the top of the Watch Tower - only to discover Martin and Pendleton dead and Emily locked away. Havelock has anticipated your arrival and betrayed and poisoned both Martin and Pendleton in paranoid terror. He then allows Corvo to pick up the key to Emily's door, but not before the two engage in combat (or, you know, Corvo blows his brains out) with Corvo coming out on top. He frees Emily, who is installed and rules as a fair and just Empress eventually renowned as "Emily the Wise". Sokolov and Piero (if they're still alive) manage to concoct a cure to the plague, and Dunwall stabilises while the Empire prospers. Corvo grows old, dies, and is buried beside the grave of Jessamine by Empress Emily, now older than her mother was at her death.
High Chaos 1: Corvo fights through the Watchtower. Martin and Pendleton die violently, though Corvo may not necessarily kill them himself. Havelock attempts to kill both himself and Emily by throwing himself from the tower, but Corvo saves Emily. She is installed as Empress, her rule brutal and ruthless. Crime and corruption continue to run rampant, the plague may still ravage the city, and the Empire's stability is doubtful.
High Chaos 2: Corvo fails to save Emily before she falls. With no ruler, Dunwall is ripped apart by plague, crime and corruption, its citizens turning on each other in the days before the end. Corvo flees the continent alone, abandoning his mask and protector's sword on Emily's grave.
My God, What Have I Done?: In the high-chaos ending, approaching Pendleton and Martin alone will result in this; both express regret over what they've done before dying, with the former succumbing wounds from his own guards, and the latter committing suicide, albeit in an attempt to deny Corvo one last victory.
Naval Blockade: The Empress briefly mentions such a blockade being deployed around Dunwall.
Never Trust a Trailer: The (exquisite) trailers don't quite match up with what actually happens in the game. You escape prison before the Outsider decides to visit you in your sleep and give you magic powers.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: At the beginning of Back Alley Brawl's infinite 13th wave, Daud appears and stops time for a private duel just like in the main game. However, being frozen in time makes every other enemy currently spawned (usually around 10 in total, including Tallboys and his own men) easy pickings. Thanks for the free kills, Daud!
No Flow in CGI: ...is why all the female characters have short hair and wear trousers. More specifically it's why the only character with flowing long hair and a coat that reaches below the knee is the one you never actually see animated. It becomes kinda obvious when you meet him in the DLC.
No-Gear Level: The Flooded District level, you even see your box of gear that was stashed away by Samuel is taken by Daud and tossed into the basement. However, this is probably the only chance you have to swing around an Assassin's Blade or Overseer's Saber.
No Sell: Stopping time and slitting someone's throat sure is fun, right? Well if the target was also touched by the Outsider they can resist. Fortunately, it works both ways. Interestingly, the other powers like Swarm of Rats and Wind Blast aren't no-sold. Daud even lampshades this, noting that he and Corvo will have a fight no one else can.
No Peripheral Vision: Most of the guards never seem to bother to look up. In a long hallway full of guards? No worries, just blink up to that chandelier and they won't bat an eyelash, even if they're looking in the same direction as you. On the bright side, it makes drop-assassination that much easier.
Non-Lethal K.O.: Favored method of neutralizing enemies for pacifists is to choke the enemy from behind or using sleep darts. Then there is also the upgraded Arc Pylon which resulted from the combined work of Sokolov and Piero which can do this in a large area.
Non Standard Gameover: Attacking a Loyalist (or leaping into Callista's bathtub when she's in it) gives a message declaring that the Loyalist Conspiracy has dissolved.
Attacking anyone before the Lord Regent sends Daud's assassins at you will result in Corvo being sent to prison for assault.
Noodle Incident: One is being discussed by the first assassination target when he first appears in the mission: "My men, your Overseers, a couple of whores, maybe a little too much ale... then one harmless prank with a runaway chicken and all of a sudden Treever's Alley is a sea of blood and tears."
Not Completely Useless: Obviously, when you're doing a Stealth Run or Pacifist Run, deadly-inaccurate-and-loud Grenades aren't going to get much use... except against River Krusts, two strengths of which are armoured hides and being placed in tight groups, and which do not count for "no kills" or "no alerts" achievements.
Not So Different: The Loyalists, who promptly attempt to frame and kill Corvo and take over Dunwall after overthrowing the villains for doing the exact same thing.
Not the Fall That Kills You: The Blink power still maintains some momentum so if you're falling from a great height and then Blink to the ground, you will still receive some damage.
Not Using the Z Word: Those infected by the plague are called "Weepers". They cry blood, looked like death warmed over, and attack other people. There is one notable difference between Weepers and zombies, in that Weepers are disturbingly still alive.
The loyalist conspiracy trying to topple the lord regent and those supporting him consists of: One disgraced, suspended Admiral, an Overseer, the lesser son of a noble family, an assassin, an inventor, a boatman, and four domestic servants. And that's it. Justified in that they are essentially trying to just murder key people so they can take over key positions.
The Lord Regent's conspiracy was equally small, though at least in his case each member was in a prominent position to begin with and had access to a wealth of resources.
One Steve Limit: Averted. There are two characters in the game named "Lydia": a maid at the Hound Pits pub, and one of the three Ladies Boyle.
Off with His Head!: Corvo will often perform 'finishing moves' on enemies with low health, some of which involve decapitating them. Additionally, if Corvo is killed by a sword, it's highly implied he has been decapitated, judging from the way the camera rolls around on the floor.
Pistol shots and crossbow bolts can also occasionally decapitate foes, in the latter case sometimes even pinning the detached bodypart to any surface behind it.
Oh My Gods!: "What in the Void?", "[By the] Outsider's Eyes!" and similar exclamations.
Optional Stealth: The game gives options in how you want to play the game. You could, for example, play through the entire game undetected... or become a whirling dervish of supernatural death. Notably, there's the Ghost achievement for playing through undetected and in a Pacifist Run.
Our Animals Are Weird: According to Arkane, they tried to make the animals both normal and familiar while remaining otherworldly. For example, they endowed dogs with long, crocodile-like snouts, sharks have odd squid-like tentacles and a green, sickly color, whales vary in body parts from individual to individual...
Pacifist Run: Despite you playing as an assassin, the devs confirmed you can play through the game without killing anyone via a Technical Pacifist route. However, some of the non-lethal fates are A Fate Worse Than Death. For example, Lady Boyle is an assassination target, but the player can knock her out and give her to a guy with a crush on her, never tobe seen again. He even notes that what he's doing is immoral, but asserts that it's better than killing her.
Painful Rhyme: One of the in-universe books 'Tales for Children' rhymes 'Riley' with 'time-y' and 'why me?'. Justified in that it's a book aimed at children.
Patrolling Mook: City Watchmen, Overseers, Street Gangs, and even Assassins.
Pet the Dog: The Overseers, despite being corrupt Church Militant, really do care for their wolfhounds. One can be seen sweet talking to a sick wolfhound in a kennel, and you can find a note where one refused even the idea of having the wolfhounds strapped with bomb vests no matter what the Chaos Level is.
The Plague: The Rat Plague, which has been tearing Dunwall apart for almost a year and a half. People infected by it cry blood in the late stages, have discolored skin, and occasionally attack other human beings.
Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: You're warned ahead of time that High Overseer Campbell is going to eliminate a city guard captain that's investigating corruption in the Overseer's ranks, and an optional mission is to save the guy during Campbell's "Wine and Dine and Poison the Guy" routine. A straight-up switching of glasses is possible, but not necessarily the most ideal solution because the other Overseers will jump to the conclusion that the captain deliberately poisoned Campbell. You can break both glasses, forcing Campbell to initiate Plan B (good for getting them both to a private area) or if you're feeling REALLY murderous, you can mix poison into both glasses.
Police Brutality: This seems to be the general policy of both the City Watch and the Overseers (see All Crimes Are Equal, above). In addition to executing people on the spot for something as innocent as breaking curfew, City Watchmen steal from citizens, round up victims for cruel experiments, and open fire on refugees.
In neutral areas, if you stand in a watchman's way you are liable to get kicked out of it. Nobody reacts.
Power Tattoo: The source of Corvo's magical abilities, courtesy of the Outsider.
Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Subverted. Dresses simply don't exist in Dunwall, and all female characters wear outfits that vary from trousers and shirts to fancy pantsuits, regardless of their power, ass-kickery, or lack thereof.
Reality Ensues: The final boss can be considered as an Anticlimax Boss. But then you realize that you're a highly-trained supernatural assassin, while Havelock's only human, and even he realizes this. He does at least make an attempt if you pick up the key without touching him.
Refuge in Audacity: "Lady Boyle's Last Party". Corvo goes to a costume party as himself, signs the guest book with his real name, and has a possibility of going straight up to his target and telling her someone has come to assassinate her for the nonlethal option. After the job is done, Lady Boyle's sisters, if they are still alive, give Corvo gifts for sparing them.
Religion of Evil: Subverted with the Overseers, and the Abbey of the Everyman. While their rule is totalitarian, their methods ruthless and their appearances ghastly, they're meant to be this way. The Abbey believes that the Void is a terrifying and monstrous place, and that most of what is unexplored in the world will try to kill them. As Corvo finds out, they're completely right. There's also evidence that while they are cruel and ruthless, they weren't always this way.
Reluctant Mad Scientist: Both Piero and Sokolov, though it's more out of For Science! than anything. Though they talk about allegiances, Sokolov quickly squeals when threatened with rats, and seems to care more about the subjects and opportunities the Lord Regent hands him. Piero seems more interested in all the things he can make. They both chum up in the end, despite apparent conflicting worldviews - over science. In The Knife of Dunwall, a note from Sokolov about his Arc Mines ("straight from the twisted mind of Sokolov", the City Watch says) imply he's disgusted with the Lord-Regent gleefully testing them out on a prisoner, despite Sokolov himself claiming the prisoner deserved it, and hoping to find a non-lethal current that simply knocks a target out.
Regenerating Health: The second level of the Vitality skill allows the player to regenerate health.
Right Man in the Wrong Place: Invoked by the Empresses' usurpers about Corvo. Burrows had originally suggested the trip in the first place, presumably to keep Corvo away from the Empress so the Spymaster could make his move. The Lord Protector returned home two days earlier than expected, but this ended up working in Burrows's favor because when the assassination succeeded Corvo made for the perfect fall guy.
Rival Science Teams: The Loyalists field Piero against the Regency's Sokolov. Both men also have a personal rivalry going since their days in academia. Of course, this becomes a moot point when Corvo kidnaps Sokolov, taking him (but not his technology) out of the running. In the end, both men make up and, in the low-chaos ending, work together to put an end to the Weepers.
In gameplay, this can be taken to extreme levels. Yes, you could just sneak your way through and just go after the target... or you could slaughter everyone who gets in your way, or even every guard between you and the building that is your destination and every person in the building where the target is hiding. You can make the streets run red with the blood of the innocent and guilty alike, and turn every building your targets live in into an abattoir. There's very little that can stop you, especially as you gain greater powers.
In one of the slums, you can find the apartment of a man who's become dangerously obsessed with visions of the Outsider, scribbling "THE OUTSIDER WALKS AMONG US" all over his walls.
At Lady Boyle's Last Party, you can find one of the victims of Granny Rags, with her insane scrawlings all over the wall and a diary note of hers stating of just how bored she is of it all.
Sarcastic Confession: Oddly enough, you can have Corvo make one of these. BotherRamsey enough, and he'll tell one of the guards that he doesn't think you're on the guest list. When the guard asks for your name, you can either lie and tell him that you're Lord Trevor Pendleton, or act drunk and say "I'm an agent of the Outsider." Guess which one lets you continue to wander the party freely, and which blows your cover?
Save Scumming: A necessity for getting the Ghost achievements. There are also two bone charms that are completely random and you can keep reloading until you pick up the desired one. The charm in a vice in the second mission and the charm in Daud's pouch in the seventh.
Scare Chord: Used often, usually when you've been spotted by an enemy.
Scenic Tour Level: The intro, which takes the player to the Empress through numerous, lengthy interactions with Corvo's peers. It also serves to introduce the player to the villains and to what will become the Big Bad's lair after the Empress' assassination.
Schizo Tech: The technology is like something out of a 19th century World's Fair. Fluorescent bulbs light streets guarded by soldiers carrying flintlock pistols and swords. Electric death-walls are powered by condensed whale oil and controlled by mechanical computers. Massive trimaran freighters lift whales entirely out of the water after spearing them with harpoon cannons. There's indoor running water, but people still crap in buckets.
"What A Weird Dream.Oh Well, I Guess It Was Nothing.": The No-Magic Run. Unfortunately, this playthrough falls apart during the return to Dunwall tower, where you need Blink or the Agility passive to make it all the way up the water lock. This challenge is at least given a nod by the developers who made an achievement for completing the game without purchasing any magic upgrades (the first level of Blink is automatically unlocked.)
The Perfect Crime/Oh, Dear, What a Terrible Accident: Pull off every mission without being seen by anyone and leave no trace that you've been there. This also includes no killing or knocking out anyone except in ways that could reasonably be seen as accidental, such as being devoured by rats.
Corvo Attano, the Loudest Man in Dunwall: Duel everyone you see with only swords, and always announce your presence in some flashy way, such as blowing up whale oil containers or firing your pistol into the air. No magic allowed except for Bend Time (to dispose of grenades and bullets more easily to keep the fight fair) or Blink (to separate guards from the pack or troll them).
Also if you think about, the whole aspect of using Stealth is a Self-Imposed Challenge, as you can easily beat the game simply going through the level and shooting everyone in your way.
Stalker Shrine: In the house for Burglary, there is a secret room in the bedroom that is covered with pictures of Lady Boyle.
Shoot the Hostage: Possible in the high-chaos ending; shooting Havelock when he threatens to jump to his death with Emily will result in him falling, while Emily will grab the ledge.
The first safe Corvo has to open uses the code 451 - a traditional reference to the famous dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 used by various games (those developed by Ion Storm Austin and Looking Glass Studios and ex-employees thereof) since the first System Shock in 1994 (Although they tend to make it 0451, since their codes use four digits. It was also the code to their old security system.).
In one mission you can come across an assassin in training; his mentor almost directly quotes lines from the first Thief's training mission.
Along the way to the hideout, there's a sign for the Pratchett Warehouse; this may also account for the major character named Havelock. There's also a Mr. Pratchett you encounter, and Prachett's Jellied Eels are everywhere. Moreover, the setting as whole seems to bear a striking number of parallels to Ankh-Morpork in Night Watch.
Piero's documents mention that he's working on something called a "Door to Nowhere," and you can find walls with markings rather similar to the portals from Portal.
At the party, wearing a rodent mask no less, is one Lord Timothy Brisby.
The Achievement/Trophy 'Alive Without Breath' is a line of a riddle that appeared in The Hobbit. The full riddle is as follows: Alive without breath / as cold as death / never thirsty, ever drinking / all in mail, never clinking. You gain the Achievement/Trophy by possessing a fish. And fish, of course, is the riddle's answer.
The symbol for the plague marked on infected houses is vaguely similar to—and almost identical to when you see it with a crossbone in a creepy cultist's lair—another symbol for plague-bearing, supernatural rats: the Skaven's logo.
The scowling Overseer masks are reminiscent of the Immortals from 300. They also look a lot like the masks of the Ordinators in another Bethesda game, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Plus, both are a worn by some kind of fanatical religious police.
It might be a stretch on this one but the suggestion that Corvo could be Emily's father could be a Shout-Out to BioShock 2. As there is a deleted Audio Diary that confirms Delta is actually Eleanor's biological father.
Near the end of the Flooded District stage, you can find an angry letter from Percival Cox.
In a low-chaos playthrough, you meet a group of survivors in the Flooded District and have the chance to assist them in escaping the District. The group led by Blake numbers seven.
At the End of a High Chaos playthrough, Emily has become a sociopathic and violent 11-year-old girl, due to the influence of her father (father figure, at least), and she's played by Chloe Moretz. Quite possibly a Kick-AssShout-Out.
During the Brigmore Witches DLC, you come into contact with several enchanted statues of Delilah, one of which is initially posed with her hands over her eyes. If you look away for long enough and then look back, she will have moved from her plinth and be reaching out to grab you.
"Trans" is a lipid based substance with unwholesome implications for its users.
Strange words can be heard whispered whenever a spell is used, but in fact these words are usually regular phrases in English with the emphasis in strange places or inappropriate vowel pronunciation. For example, the chant for Dark Vision is "en-HA-nced-EYES."
Swarm of Rats: There's a lot of ferocious rats in this game, which seem to be the source of the plague. A swarm of rats can also be summoned to devour your enemies. Rat swarms tend to move as if they have a hive mind, and they love to chew on dead bodies. Learning to use dead bodies to distract vicious rats is just one of the tricks you need to pass. It's notable that these rats are not native to Gristol, but are a larger, smarter and more ferocious variety from the Pandyssian Continent.
Sword and Gun: Corvo keeps his long knife at the ready in his right hand and his pistol in his left. Even if you don't use both at once he's conceivably ready to whip either out. Watch Officers and other firearm-wielding enemies also fight this way, with a saber in one hand and a pistol in the other.
Take Your Time: Events won't trigger until you actually reach the proper location. Feel free to wander around the Abbey, stealthily taking out every single Overseer both inside and outside of the building, and whether it takes you thirty minutes or six hours to do it, Campbell and Curnow will still be only just arriving at their meeting. Also, after Corvo is poisoned, the symptoms will continually get worse, but Corvo will not collapse until he reaches his room. He is perfectly capable of running circles around the Hounds Pit Pub for hours as long as he stays out of the attic.
Taking You with Me: In the high-chaos ending, Havelock attempts to throw himself from the lighthouse with Emily.
Tears of Blood: The Weepers have subconjunctival haemorrhages that cause their eyes to leak blood.
Technically Living Zombie: Weepers aren't the undead, but the last stage of a painful disease that robs them of their mind while they rot from the inside out. They're still people, which is probably why the game docks you a killing point even if you kill them. And you can still use the Heart to hear their sad stories, and terrible thoughts they're having.
The non-lethal approach to "neutralizing" targets can get pretty nasty: couple of corrupt Members of Parliament who own a mine run by slave labor? Do a favor for a crime boss who will in return have them kidnapped, disfigured and sold to their own mine as slaves! Powerful female aristocrat supporting the Lord Regent? Knock her unconscious and hand her over to an "admirer" who promises she will never be seen again!
This also counts towards a Pacifist Run. The game will only log deaths that you are directly responsible for, like straight-up murder or hacked weapons. But it won't count it if, say, you lead a swarm of murderous rats to an enemy, or a group of Weepers that are chasing you "accidentally" end up running into some City Watchmen. Though their corpses will still alert guards as though you had done it, you won't see any deaths recorded at the end of the mission. People that you knocked out dying after the fact, however (falling, drowning, getting eaten by rats), will count.
Teleport Spam: The Assassins just love abusing their Transversal ability. Daud has it, too, but is not nearly so bad about spamming it.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: Played with. If you get noticed before they recognize you, or if you make some noisy running sound, they often dismiss it as rats or just 'hearing things'. They seemingly have no idea how to replace the trans battery of a wall of light or an arc pylon after you remove it. They also seemingly never bothered to look up. However, the officers in particular, WILL notice if some guards are missing from their post, and they will take over their patrol routes as well. Alerting a guard will cause him to call for help and if you managed to escape, they will actively search for you with their weapons drawn. They will also be alerted by bodies or unconscious guards that you have to hide bodies constantly. Eavesdropping on the guard chatter will reveal that at least some of them are in fact supposed to put whale oil tanks into the devices as part of their duties. However, given the guards' usual outlook of "deal with your own problems, I'm just glad I don't have the plague - yet" even toward other guards, they probably don't bother popping in a new tank because they assume that it's some other guard's problem. This occurs even if you drop the old tank right next to the device-they still don't give a rat's viscera about it.
The Lost Lenore: The Empress, assuming the rumors about her and Corvo are true.
The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Played straight, considering how corrupt and selfish the villains are. The final act subverts this in the worst ending, as, despite Corvo's best intentions, the chaos generated in tearing down the totalitarian government causes the plague to continue to spread relentlessly, dooming the city without Emily's guidance.
Theme Tune Cameo: Guards can be heard whistling "The Drunken Whaler" and you can also find the lyrics to it, since it's an in-universe sea shanty.
Three-Point Landing: When falling from a high enough height Corvo lands with his left hand touching the ground, implying this.
Title Drop: The Outsider offers one for the seventh mission.
Touched by Vorlons: Corvo gains his powers from The Outsider's Mark, as do others chosen by The Outsider.
Treachery Cover Up: The reason that Havelock, Martin, and Pendleton poison Corvo and murder the other Loyalists (Wallace, Lydia, and potentially Callista). They had also had planned to kill Samuel, Cecilia, Piero, and Sokolov, but Samuel was smart enough to see it coming and run, and Cecelia escaped by either inadvertently being warned by Wallacenote (Low Chaos) or because she wasn't feeling well* High Chaos. Piero and Sokolov survived by barricading themselves in Piero's workshop. Callista's survival depends entirely on whether Corvo has maintained Low Chaos; otherwise, Havelock will kill her as well.
Trick Bomb: The Razorwire bomb, which doesn't explode, but releases blades to slice up anyone unlucky to run into it.
Urban Segregation: ExaggeratedandJustified. Dunwall has traditionally had districts divided up based on proximity to industry and real estate value, in part to let the nobles get away from the slums and to keep the inhabitants of the slums stuck in them. However, the Rat Plague and the subsequent heavy-handed measures to deal with it by the Lord Regent have made this even worse than usual. Quarantine steps have been taken to limit travel between areas, entire districts have been walled off save heavily guarded checkpoints, and some have even been walled off entirely and given up as a lost cause.
Vendor Trash: There's a lot of things to scavenge, but only a few of them are actually straight-up coins. Just as often, you'll find valuables like maps, refined whale oil jugs, copper wires and rare feathers. You don't need to trade them in at a vendor, either; for player convenience they are instantly converted to cash as you pick them up.
One of the very first things that Corvo can do in the game is to indulge Princess Emily in a game of hide-and-seek.
Since unconscious characters can be killed if their bodies are handled carelessly, a player doing a nonlethal run may be compelled to find a safe, comfortable place for anyone they needed to KO for sake of the mission.
Murder everybody at a dinner party, unleash swarms of rats on unsuspecting guards and townsfolk, lob flammable whale oil containers into a group of plague victims, possess a guard and make him walk in front of his own frozen-in-time gunfire, possess a guard and make him walk in front of his friend's frozen-in-time gunfire, drug a guy and throw him off a cliff, etc.
If you're feeling more petty, you can leave unconscious guards in compromising positions with others, leave them on top of chandeliers, toss a bottle at the back of your target's head, Goomba Stomp someone and run, possess a guard and have him vomit on a bystander, toss corpses from up high in front of unsuspecting maids, blow down a door with Windblast that someone is standing behind and more.
The more people that Corvo kills, the more the ending changes. However, guards will also be more alert in later missions, and allies may turn against you when they otherwise would not, causing more alert guards. There will also be more security measures in place (towers, walls of light, and so on).
For a game that was advertised with Corvo stabbing people left, right, and center, it flat-out tells you that you're going to get a Downer Ending if you run around murdering everyone. With all the Enemy Chatter about how they have loved ones and all of the little notes you can find that detail the lives of the people around you, you might start wondering why the game doesn't just come right out and call you a heartless asshole if you do a lethal High Chaos run.
Villainous Breakdown: Funnily enough, the Lord Regent's Engineered Public Confession is a pre-recorded mid-breakdown speech (so, he breaks down while breaking it all down for you). Step One of his Kill the Poor plan, killing the Empress to put himself in power, worked great - Corvo was even conveniently there to frame! Step Two, kill the rats, didn't work out. Step Three, quarantine, was a total failure because his blackguards, forcefields and tallboys couldn't stop people from breaking quarantine to be with their loved ones.
"You can see how my plan should have worked? Would have worked! If everyone had just followed orders."
Walking Armory: Corvo doesn't employ a Hyperspace Arsenal so much as he packs a very large amount of small weapons at once. A few bolts for his compact crossbow, a sword that folds up into something the size of a pocketknife, a pistol, maybe some grenades and small gadgets and that's it.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Hiram Burrows is not just power-hungry, he genuinely believes he is the only competent leader around and that committing various atrocities like having the Empress killed and engineering the plague outbreak are the only way he can save his country.
Wham Episode: The Loyalists' betrayal of Corvo. Also, on a high chaos run, Samuel, the boatman, the only guy who was still on your side, at the start of the last mission will say you are worse than the other loyalists put together, and signal the loyalists that you are coming if you don't kill him.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite hearing the Heart say things like "I will be glad to rest" and "I am not alive, nor have I been granted the gift of death" for the entire game, the ending makes no mention of the Heart's final fate. Even worse considering that it's almost certainly the Empress's own heart.
What Measure Is a Mook?: You can come across guards who, rather than talking about all of the puppy-kicking they're looking forward to doing later, are talking about their lives. You can overhear at least one man talking to his fellow guard about a prostitute he's fallen in love with, and how he wants to take her away from that life. If you end up killed in a fight with guards, the last thing you'll hear as you lie on the floor is your killer talking about how you just made the wife of one of his buddies a widow.
A ton of this in the guard bunkhouse. One Overseer has a letter from his male lover assuring him everything is alright, he loves him, and he's not mad about a recent incident.note They were seen in public together and the Overseer covered by throwing homophobic slurs at him. A pair of Overseers very nearly take a City Watch guard's sister to be burned at the stake for being a witch, but he stands up for her despite knowing he won't be shown leniency; Corvo can take out the Overseers and save them. The guard himself has a letter in the post from a friend warning him that someone's taken evidence proving his sister is a witch to the proper authorities, telling him to take her and get out of the city as soon as possible.
Though the feeling of guilt over murdering the guards is mitigated a lot if you use the Heart on them and find out that a lot of the guards are sadistic and greedy monsters. For the most part, the Heart gives fairly random mentions to a guard's mindset or past (the vast majority of these are negative), though there are a fair few it will exclusively give kind messages about.
What the Hell, Hero?: If you murder indiscriminately, Samuel will call you out on it in the final level in a big way — and he'll alert the loyalists and every one of the numerous guards on the island that you're coming, unless you kill him first.
What You Are in the Dark: This may be the theme of Dishonored; Corvo was once a protector of the Empress and her daughter. Now that he's an assassin without an Empress and his identity is a secret from all but a select few people until near the end, he has choices to make while in the dark; kill everyone or spare them. It's a test of character that ends with the empire in flames or in good hands. Havelock failed, as did Martin and Pendleton.
Would Shiv a Girl: Corvo doesn't seem to find killing or harming women any more troubling than killing or harming men.
Worth It: The boy in the second Tales of Dunwall video spends his last living hours searching for the Outsider. Despite the plague-ridden bite of an infected rat that the Outsider gave him the ability to control, it's to thank him, because he was able to get revenge on the children that had tormented him - and because, at last, he was no longer afraid.
Subtle, but it's there. If you kill anyone with your blade, the blade stays bloody for the rest of the mission, regardless of what you do afterwards. This also includes the creepy rat fetuses in the jars in Dr. Galvani's office.
If you had a High Chaos run, Samuel will throw this in your face, saying that you're worse than the other ex-Loyalists put together, and signal the guards on the last level that you are coming.
Guards will also occasionally yell it verbatim when you kill their fellows in front of them.
The Conspirators to you, since they believe you will object to them using the new Empress as a puppet. Plus, you're visible proof of their complicity in the overthrow of the Lord Regent. Havelock also harbored thoughts of being Lord Regent himself, and succumbs to the temptation.
In a High Chaos ending, if you were able to save Emily, she said that she'd wind up murdering all of the co-conspirators, anyway.
Following the success of Dishonored, a second and third set of DLC campaigns were released, which both follow previous Anti-Villain Daud and his team of superpowered assassins "The Whalers". They were collectively dubbed The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, and notably provide a Perspective Flip on the instigator of the main plot.The Knife of Dunwall, the first of the two packs, opens as Daud's team performs what should have been a routine job: subduing Corvo and killing the Empress. Jumping ahead 6 months, around the time Corvo first escapes, Daud has had plenty of time to reflect on his actions, and realizes the repercussions of killing the Empress. Contacted again by The Outsider, Daud is given an ultimatum: unravel the mystery of the name "Delilah" before his time runs out.The final pack, The Brigmore Witches, picks up immediately after the first pack, and concludes Daud's storyline. Learning the secret of Delilah, Daud and the Whalers soon come up against a coven of witches. Soon uncovering a dark secret, Daud must hurry to stop a sinister plan that would shake the very foundations of Dunwall. The pack also adds more features and, if the player has a save file from The Knife Of Dunwall, Daud's abilities, weapons and Chaos will carry over.Both DLCs act as a backstory expansion, offering several new missions, locations, enemies, and weapons, as well as a new perspectiveon the main plot.
Brick Joke: A common piece of Enemy Chatter in the main game consists of one guard asking another if he thinks he will get his own squad after what happened last night. The Knife of Dunwall features a guard who actually did get his own squad because of what happened last night.
Another one from the main game is mooks asking each other if they are in for "whiskey and cigars tonight". In here, you can hear a mook asking another "Whiskey and cigars? Is that all you can think about?"
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Rothwild tortures his workers into obedience, has a brutal crew of enforcers and uses the number of industrial accidents and fatalities as a safe code. He's also amused by the "songs" of the tortured whales, which drive his less sociopathic employees mad.
Crate Expectations: Beating Rothwild and his butchers non-lethally requires locking him in a crate and shipping him several continents away.
Cruella to Animals: Rothwild and his whale slaughterhouse. Whales are initially eviscerated alive to drain oil from them; once their oil secretions begin to plummet, they're milked for additional oil through a slow death by gradual electrocution to cause extra secretions.
Additionally, the "Butcher" enemy type. Not only are they required to carve up both living and dead whales with enormous buzz saws, they are pretty much required to be psychopaths (especially considering most other thugs complain they hear whale songs and screams in their sleep).
Daud notes that he could just torture Abigail Ames for information, rather than blow up the slaughterhouse in exchange for it. Players have the option to do so, as knocking her out means you can strap her in the shock chair and just electrocute it out of her.
Which ends up having consequences if you decide to purchase a bone charm from her after zapping her with ten thousand volts. They don't call it a dead drop for - *SPONTANEOUS EXPLOSION!!!*
Looking at the statue of Delilah on the top level of Barrister Timsh's house with Void Gaze level 2 will make it yellow, the same colour of living beings.
Difficulty Spike: The first two levels aren't all that hard to get through with good amounts of skill or patience; nice open spaces, enemies that patrol alone, and plenty of areas where Daud can get above everyone. The third level, however, is much, much harder: tight, confined areas, enemies that patrol in groups of two or even three, few areas where you can get above the enemy, and Anti-Magic music boxes freaking everywhere.
Dirty Old Man: Barrister Timsh, who pretty much holds a maid hostage just so she would stay with him that night.
Electric Torture: Rothwild set up a chair with wire attachments in his slaughterhouse's meat locker for precisely this purpose, using it on stubborn or disloyal employees, shocking them until they are willing to sign contracts pledging to never try any collective bargaining methods. Daud can throw a couple of characters in the chair to get information out of them including Rothwild himself.
Exposition Fairy: Billie plays this role, using Blink to appear next to you, talk about something relevant, then vanishing again.
Gameplay and Story Integration: In the main story Daud can grant powers to others. In the DLC this appears in the form of the Arcane Bond Daud possesses by default, which grants powers to the assassins he summons. Unlike in the story, however, he can upgrade this power so that assassins are immune to the time stop power he uses to force a duel.
Daud's assassin organisation also helps him in gameplay by arranging "favors" via its intelligence network and aids in battle through the Summon Assassin power.
Et Tu, Brute?: Billie, Daud's greatest student, is responsible for the assault on their base, and has been working with Delilah behind his back.
Evil vs. Evil: Bundry Rothwild vs Abigail Ames. Rothwild is a hybrid of a Corrupt Corporate Executive and a Mob Boss who remorselessly exploits his workers, uses torture to keep them in line, and indulges in animal cruelty to maximize his profits. Abigail Ames seems like a saint at first, in comparison if nothing else, but she's really a professional rabble-rouser who's been hired by Rothwild's competition to sabotage his business. She is disdainful of the workers she's rallying, despises Rothwild for being a low-born commoner who rose above his station, has no qualms about murdering a man while he's unconscious, and is perfectly happy to demolish a warehouse while fully aware - even gleeful - that several dozen men will "die screaming" within. Though they are Asshole Victims.
Foreshadowing: Billie, who has had your back through two missions, is suspiciously absent just as Daud's base is under attack in High Chaos.
Grand Theft Me: It's hinted that the Brigmore Witches are capable of inflicting this on others. According to a poem written by Delilah, her next victim will be Emily.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Arnold Timsh is a corrupt barrister who makes money evicting and bankrupting anyone who doesn't hand themselves in immediately upon suspected infection. Should Daud non-lethally dispose of him, the player must cause him to inadvertently confess to breaking these laws, resulting in him losing everything and his arrest by his own corruption.
Klingon Promotion: In the High Chaos ending, Billie Lurk duels Daud for leadership of the Assassins.
Leeroy Jenkins: Overseer Hume, who leads the attack on Daud's base, despite orders to hold back until he has enough reinforcements. Daud successfully breaks Hume's shaky hold on his territory, disables Hume, and learns from Hume's notes that the Abbey is planning to make another strike (which is most likely why, in the game proper, Corvo encounters a squad of dead Overseers in the Flooded District when he arrives there). Many characters scoff that his recklessness and impatience doomed not only his first push, but also any attacks that came after him.
Madness Mantra: A letter you found right next to the empress in the void is just written with "YOU KILLED HER" over and over.
This is also a Continuity Nod to the main game's plot, where, when Corvo first meets the Outsider, the letter next to the dead Empress repeats "YOU CANNOT SAVE HER".
The Mafia: The Butchers, who are both criminals and slaughterhouse staff.
Mercy Kill: Daud can deliver one to an eviscerated whale that is being slowly killed for its oil.
Miles to Go Before I Sleep: Daud is told by the Outsider that his story is soon coming to an end, but he can accomplish one last thing before he meets his fate. The Outsider doesn't actually bother to specify what this fate will be, or whether Daud can avoid it, or if this last task has anything to do with either of those things, but really, none of that concerns him. Only Daud.
The Mole: Billie reveals that she has been working with Delilah because she believes Daud lost his edge to guilt after killing the Empress.
Lowest Chaos: Billie admits to her betrayal, and requests honorable execution. Daud spares her, and she leaves Dunwall forever, and spreads Daud's legend; the epilogue shows Daud turning to meet Corvo as he approaches.
Low Chaos: Billie admits to her betrayal, and requests an honorable execution. Daud, with Billie's help, stabs and kills her; the epilogue notes Billie redeemed herself, but questions if Daud has done the same.
High Chaos: Billie fights Daud in the belief that his abilities as a leader are slipping and he's become weak. Daud defeats her and either executes her or knocks her out; the epilogue shows Corvo approaching Daud's back.
Non Standard Game Over: Killing Lurk or NPCs who have information needed to advance the plot gives you a game over with the message "irreconcilable hostilities."
No OSHA Compliance: Pretty much the Rothwild Slaughterhouse. Guard rails missing and employees being outright killed. This is pretty much the reason the employees went on strike.
One Steve Limit: The only clue the Outsider gives Daud is the name "Delilah". Nearly six months later, he gets his first lead, in the form of a ship called Delilah, which turns out to be named after the woman the Outsider was referring to. You'd think he'd have found another Delilah by that point.
Remember the New Guy: Billie Lurk. Despite being the second-in-command of Daud's Assassins, she's never mentioned in the game proper. Justified - she's either dead or banished by Daud for her betrayal by the time Corvo finally reaches the base, and it seems a sufficiently painful event that Daud would rather not talk about it.
Redemption Equals Death: In Low Chaos, Billie realizes her mistake in working with Delilah and allows Daud to kill her as penance.
Shock and Awe: You now get mini arc and stun mines that electrocute anyone unfortunate enough walk by them.
Smug Snake: Overseer Hume, who assumed he could take down the Assassins and Daud despite being ordered to hold back. You can even listen in on him gloating, or you can cut him off mid-sentence.
Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: The Butchers in the whale slaughterhouse are armed with big saw blades powered by whale oil and have face masks that prevent head shots. Their saws are so big they can block bullets and sword strikes, you can't defend against them very well, and the saws even have a metal chip ejector that shoots rapidly, effectively making these guys the only ones in Dunwall who have machine guns. They're one of the toughest new enemies in the whole city; their boss even says they're probably the toughest fighters in Dunwall. Yet their only ostensible job is chopping up whales.
Title Drop: Abigail Ames calls Daud the Knife of Dunwall if you wait a while after meeting her. The Outsider also uses the name in the High Chaos ending.
The name of the final DLC, The Brigmore Witches, is also dropped in the low chaos version of Daud's hideout, when Billie tells you of her betrayal and Delilah appears.
To Be Continued: The DLC ends with the Overseers routed and the traitor either dead or banished, but Delilah, the one that the Outsider put Daud on the trail of, is still out there, still planning to take Daud down, and the Brigmore Witches still need to be dealt with.
Touched by Vorlons: The Outsider mentions that there are only eight in the world he has gifted in this way. This comment is made chronologically before Corvo gets empowered.
Villain Protagonist: Although, just how much Daud remains one is up to the player. If you want, you can play through the entire DLC non-lethally (just like you could in the main game) and follow the story path of Daud redeeming himself after the murder of the Empress (which, of course, is Low Chaos). Alternatively, you can hack through every living thing between you and your goals and leave a bloody swath marking your path through Dunwall in a High Chaos playthrough where Daud accepts his murderous self. The trophies/achievements for each ending explain it best: Redemptive Path for Low Chaos and No Regrets for High Chaos.
You ALL Look Familiar: One could be forgiven for thinking that the whale-processing facility employs clones of the same narrow-chinned, dark haired, wide-eared guy as laborers.
The Brigmore Witches
And I Must Scream: The nonlethal method of defeating Delilah is to trap her within a painting of the Void, which is itself hidden in the Void. It seems Daud shares Corvo's penchant for Cruel Mercy.
Antagonist Title: It's named for Delilah's coven, and she's not that keen on Daud.
Artifact of Doom: This DLC introduces Corrupted Bone Charms, which provide a powerful boost but also inflict a negative secondary effect when equipped.
Daylight Horror: Daud visits Brigmore Manor on a ridiculously bright day. The place is filled to the brim with witches and hellhounds.
Deadly Gas: What Daud will face should he kill the Geezer. An anti-toxin which will protect him for the duration of the mission is available, however, if one searches carefully.
Decoy Damsel: In the sewers beneath the Textile Mill, Daud finds a young woman hiding from Weepers. Approaching her gets him ambushed by witches.
Deliberate Injury Gambit: Thee frontal kill animation for Delilah; after being stabbed by Daud, she deliberately pushes herself further onto the blade to claw at his face.
Fingore: Lizzie Stride holds no grudge against the gang members who sided with Wakefield and decides not to kill them. Provided that they each give her a finger. Two fingers if they complain.
Foregone Conclusion: Daud will at least survive the DLC so that he meets his fate at the hands of Corvo.
Foreshadowing: If Billie was spared at the end of Knife of Dunwall, Daud can find a letter she's sent him in his headquarters before the first mission containing a book with various ports of call outside Dunwall, which foreshadows Daud's own flight from Dunwall after a Low Chaos Corvo spares him, which happens if Daud maintains his Low Chaos run in Brigmore Witches.
Back for the Finale: This instead happens if Daud adopts a High Chaos run while having spared Billie. Despite being absent for the entirety of the game outside of the aforementioned letter, Billie returns in The Stinger to the High Chaos ending, to mourn at Daud's Viking Funeral following his assassination at the hands of Corvo.
Garden of Evil: Brigmore Manner is a place with flower beds placed on many open surfaces, filled with soil and growing mysterious, glowing plants that cannot be natural. Inside, it is full of vines and growing creepers that snake over floors and up walls.
Grand Theft Me: Delilah plans to use her powers to possess Emily and control the Empire through her.
Kick the Dog: Exploring Delilah's mansion, players can find an unconscious Overseer whom the witches have tortured. Waking him causes him to scream and begs not to eat any more — on further inspection, he's visibly surrounded by chunks of raw meat and human bones.
Laser-Guided Karma: Determines Daud's ultimate fate at the end of the DLC. If Daud attempts to change his ways via a Low Chaos run, then Corvo will ultimately spare him at the end of his DLC. But if he decides to simply accept he is who he is via High Chaos, then Corvo kills him. Daud even alludes to this during his final monologue just before the ending cinematic of his fight with Corvo, by saying that people's actions will have consequences they can't always see.
Living Statue: Daliah is a talented painter and sculptor, and she works this into her magic. She makes statues of herself that can be used to commune with her, speaking through them. The ones around Brigmore Manner act as sentries, screaming when an intruder goes by.
Mercy Kill: Possible with the Geezer (Mortimer Hat), who is being kept alive on life support by his nurse, Trimble. Since Trimble runs the gang by pretending his orders are from his patient, he also keeps the Geezer locked away from the gang, and connected to lethal gas emitters to deter the merciful — as such, the Geezer begs Daud to learn the poison gas antidote so he can pull the plug and let him die.
Mind over Matter: The DLC's new power is Pull, which Daud and his Assassins used in the regular game against Corvo.
Mob War: Going all out in the all but abandoned Draper's district. Traditionally the domain of the Hatters gang, the Dead Eels have recently put into port nearby making the situation tense. After the Hatters steal something the Dead Eels need, the tension explodes into all out warfare, with both sides taking out stragglers of the other and keeping a standoff on either side of an old channel.
Low Chaos: Even though Corvo doesn't know that Daud redeemed himself by saving Emily from Delilah, he spares him anyway. The Stinger shows Daud laying his sword atop the Empress' tomb.
High Chaos: Corvo ignores Daud's pleas for mercy. Daud's redemption was for nothing. The Stinger shows the cremation of Daud's body in the Flooded District; if Billie was spared in Knife Of Dunwall, she will appear among the mourners.
Non Standard Game Over: In addition to the "irreconcilable hostilities" message if you kill plot-critical NPCs, you also get a game over if Delilah successfully completes her ritual.
Daud pays a visit to Coldridge Prison, which has beefed up its security extensively since Corvo escaped in the vanilla game's first mission.
The DLC also opens with Daud's perspective of the fight between him and Corvo. It turns out to be All Just a Dream.
Old Save Bonus: Daud's powers, weapons, Chaos level and some key decisions can be carried over from Knife Of Dunwall if the player has a save file - if there are several files with differing Chaos levels, the game lets you choose which one you wish to import.
Sanity Slippage: Daud shows signs of this in High Chaos, such as mistaking one of the Assassins for Corvo and nearly killing them in panic.
One of Delilah's statues acts like a Weeping Angel when you pick the bone charm placed on front of it.
The nonlethal solution to eliminating Delilah plays out the exact same way the Trickster is defeated in Thief: The Dark Project. By letting her complete her ritual after you've pulled the old switcheroo on the item necessary to pull it off. In this case, a painting.
Taking You with Me: Done by one of the witches who was captured by the Watch while infiltrating the Dunwall Tower. Rather than giving up her secrets, she does... something. When Daud arrives to the scene, he finds the interrogation room in ruins, the witch's charred corpse in the interrogation chair, no sign of her guards unless you count the massive bloodstains and a bunch of the plants associated with the witches' magic, which apparently grew with such ferocity they punched holes in the walls and the ceiling.
Timed Mission: Once Delilah finishes her painting of Emily, you have roughly 60 seconds to kill her or sabotage the ritual.
Uriah Gambit: One of the witches accuses Delilah of this in the sewers, offhandedly; she says that Delilah is putting her strongest witches in the most danger because when the master plan is complete she'll want the weakest witches near her. Since Delilah would be inhabiting the body of a child, she may have a point there…
Video Game Caring Potential: On the revisit to the prison, it's possible to see the execution of Corvo's rescuers. Rescuing them is especially difficult as powers are unavailable in the area, but doing so gets you information.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you tortured Abigail for information on The Delilah in the previous DLC, she sells you a favor in this one. Said favor turns out to be a bomb set to go off a few seconds after Daud approaches it.
Wake Up Fighting: Daud grabs an unfortunate Assassin's throat as he is waken up in his bed in the High Chaos path.
What You Are in the Dark: The Outsider narrates at the end of a Low Chaos route that Daud's tale, as the man who saved the Empire, will never be told. It's implied that had Daud not gone after Delilah, she would have left him and the Assassins untouched when she stole Emily's body to rule in her place.