Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Nightmare Fuel / Dishonored

Go To

Dishonored has been described as "a zombie apocalypse, crossed with the invasion of The Combine crossed with Cosmic Horror, and add a touch of steampunkness". Dishonored takes the most horrific, terrifying aspects of each of these, and crafts a city in which the rich get richer, the poor turn into zombies, and the machinations of an Ambiguously Evil supernatural entity change the city for the sake of keeping him entertained.

  • The Heart. Not only is it a talking undead human heart kept alive by magic and clockwork, it also knows every secret, no matter how dark or terrifying about every place and every person it encounters, it knows what it is, but wishes it was dead, and to top it all off it's the remains of the Empress!
    • And each time you point it at rune or bone charm it starts beating...
  • Some of the deaths performed are rather gruesome. For example:
    • You can summon rats to devour your enemies alive and whole. You can even watch as the clothes and skin are ripped off to reveal the muscles and bones, which doubles neatly as Nausea Fuel. Eventually, the rats will eat through every single organs until there's nothing left on the victim except a large pool of blood.
      • Even worse, if you see a swarm of rats running around a level, better be careful - they're hungry and if there's no corpse around to distract them, they'll try and eat you if you don't kill them fast enough.
    • You can possess people into either jumping off balconies to their deaths or walking into the path of their own bullet.
    • You can manipulate the power of the wind by pushing enemies with a large, powerful gust of it that can slam enemies against walls, breaking their neck.
    • Advertisement:
    • You can fill a room with scalding steam, burning your target and anyone with them.
    • Many of the killmoves are violent as well- lopping off heads, slicing necks, breaking limbs and snapping sinew.
    • The front kill of Edgar Wakefield in the Brigmore Witches deserves a special mention. Daud plunges his sword into his eye, then slooowly pulls it out as Wakefield makes these ungodly sounds of pain.
  • The masks worn in Lady Boyle's party. Some are enlarged insect heads complete with antennae and compound eyes. One of them is an uncanny baby, with the rest of the "baby's" body forming a hat.
    • Even Creepier is the mask for an important character in that mission. The mask looks like a crude bag with hairs sticking out of it. He's important because he provides the nonlethal option for that mission. The nonlethal option itself being several layers of creepy. He is a Stalker with a Crush who offers to take Lady Boyle away to his own secret location where he will love her for ever and ever and ever and she will never be heard from again. The Outsider even explains that - if she doesn't die - she will live a long life that is apparently so unpleasant that she will fully regret her choices. Though there is less of a sting to it when you are informed she was in on the plan to kill the Empress.
      • Creepier still when you realize that his mask is meant to be a rat.
  • During the chapter of Lady Boyle's party, one can hear the conversation between two watchmen about a singer that got targeted by the Abbey. She was singing outside, only to stop when Overseers close-by played their music boxes, leading them to instantly believe she was related to the Outsider. She was later returned when others vouched for her, but she apparently never got better and isn't even speaking anymore. The men both murmur deeply disturbing thoughts about what kind of Mind Rape she must have been subjected to to result in her being this different.
    • Speaking of the Abbey: Corvo can find a book quite early that explains how the Abbey recruits Overseers. Young children with "talent" will be send to the Abbey for some undisclosed training or ritual. If they succeed, they become an Overseer, if not they will be killed.
    • Once Lord Regent Burrows has been dealt with, announcements can be heard outside the Hounds Pit Pub calling for young children age 8 to 10 for this very purpose. In a city that's horribly sick and dying, the Abbey still cares first and foremost about having enough Overseers instead of enough children that might one day stabilize the population.
  • While most of "The Hand That Feeds" is pretty damned disturbing, it's the end where the boy is lying on his back in a growing pool of blood, while blood runs freely from his eyes that is pure Nightmare Fuel.
    • And then his body turns into the in-universe plague warning symbol...
  • The setting in general. You've got a steampunk/dieselpunk, dystopian city run by a corrupt regime while swarms of rats spread a plague that causes people to turn into coughing, blood crying not-zombies nobody can find an inexpensive cure for. Not to mention these victims are quarantined by guards authorized to use lethal force and electrical walls and pylons that turn anyone who gets too close to them into ash. Plus, don't forget Dunwall's class based system, as the poor are left to rot with this plague while the rich ignore the problem and throw lavish parties.
    • And don't forget the healthy dose of Lovecraftian Horror tossed in for good measure.
    • Also, if you get the plague, aside from being doomed to die a slow, painful death, one of two things will happen to you: You'll be reported to the city watch, who will quarantine you in the worst parts of the city where you'll live out the rest of your days surrounded by weepers, or you'll be hidden from the watch, and your loved ones will likely either get sick, or get arrested for not reporting a victim.
    • There's also the fact that Sokolov is experimenting on living plague victims.
      • No, it is far worse than that. While some of Sokolov's experiments may be performed on plague victims, he specifically chooses healthy citizens to test out his cures for the rat plague, experiments which involve him first infecting them with the disease itself. During the mission to capture him, Corvo (and therefore the player) is treated to the sight of several civilians being held in electric cages waiting to be experimented upon. Add to the fact that the guards pretty much dismiss these poor people as "pigs" to be slaughtered except for one obviously disturbed man who is horrified at the idea of doing this to innocent people.
    • Sokolov's conversation with one of his victims when you break into his chamber to kidnap him is this and pure Tear Jerker if you let it go on long enough. He asks a woman in a cage how she is feeling, to which she responds that she is much worse. She says she is in terrible pain and asks for a remedy, to which he gently responds that while he does have painkillers, using them would taint the experiment. If you let her go, she just asks to be left alone and rest until the pain subsides. But if you listen to what he said earlier, you know...that it won't...
  • Weepers. These aren't zombies, but being a zombie would be merciful compared to what they've become: they shamble around, continuously vomiting, their vomit being highly caustic (it injures you if they vomit on you), and their bodies have become home to large numbers of flies. Maggots are literally devouring their flesh while they are still alive. When they clutch you when they attack, they aren't trying to hurt you, they're begging for help, or at least for you to put them out of their misery.
  • Some of the non-lethal version for eliminating the targets. Lady Boyle's fate — being handed over to her Stalker with a Crush — was already bad enough, but at least she's more or less unharmed...for the moment. With Campbell, however, your turning him into a heretic gets him kicked out by the Abbey and as a result he catches the plague and dies in agony, while you leave the Pendleton twins to be abducted by Slackjaw's goons, have their tongues cut out and be sent off to be worked to death in their own mines. Pay Evil unto Evil and all that, but still, sheesh.
  • Go ahead and empathize with your targets to realize just how pants-shittingly terrifying it is to have a visit from Corvo. For example, when you go to abduct Sokolov, you can make the choice to talk to him instead of just straight-up knocking him out. Just stand there for a minute, silent, watching, and eventually he'll freak out and run past you, screaming for help...only to find that all of the dozen-plus guards are dead. The entire map is empty. Just him, Alone With The Assassin.
    • People really don't give guards enough credit, considering what they're up against. Go and have another good look at the game's box art (or the main page's picture). We're comforted by knowing that's our PC, but that mask is monstrous. Add to that the fact most, if not all armed opposition are aware it's being worn by an in-universe Memetic Badass with allegedly no anti-murder scruples. Now imagine that crawling out of a shadow you knew nobody could possibly have been in (without outsider help) and dropping whisper-quiet to the ground in front of you. It must take no small amount of courage not to run screaming. Even if the player is in a pacifist run: you happen to spot this person and all he does is vanish into thin air. In a world where all magic is considered product of a Satan-like entity, this will just make the guy even worse.
    • When returning to the bar once you had been betrayed, it is actually possible to overhear two guards from the Watch discuss exactly this. One guy is terrified, praying that Corvo will not come back but fearing that it is in vain while the other just states that they are all well-trained, have their war machines and he is only one man. The first guy is very quick in pointing out that the second man will be the first to run away crying, if Corvo actually comes.
    • The presence of Corvo's Badass Longcoat and Cool Mask, along with the fact that he's a silent, unstoppable killer, means that many of his potential victims probably spend their last moments convinced that The Grim Reaper himself is after them.
  • The Fallen Letter you find in the Void beside the Empress' body is just a mite bit unsettling.
    • Daud's version is no better.
  • The in-game song, "Drunken Whaler", is much darker than the "Drunken Sailor" song it's based on. The original has some moderately reasonable suggestions. "Drunken Whaler"... Not so much - all lethal, and a good sign of how bad off this city is. The childlike voice singing doesn't help.
    Slice him in the throat with a rusty cleaver...
    • It can make your rat-summoning ability even worse, in some cases. If you use it on a guard or toss a body to an already existing pack of rats, they'll devour the poor lad/corpse (which is already quite gruesome by itself) and you may hear this verse play.
    Feed him to the hungry rats for dinner...
  • In the "Burglar" mission of Dunwall City Trials, you can find a hidden nook behind a wall if you pull a switch. Enter the room, grab what's in there, turn around to leave... and suddenly the exit is instead a pitch-black void filled with busts of Hiram Burrows hanging in mid-air, with a "shrine" to him in the middle that looks like a mockery of an Outsider Shrine. And there's no apparent other way out.
  • Same mission: There's a safe with no combination that you need to open for a few ingots. On and around said safe are several busts of Burrows. Walk into the corner to hide from a guard, turn around... And the busts have turned to stare at you.
  • Same mission: there's a hidden room behind a bookshelf in a bedroom. The walls inside are covered in rotating paintings of Emily Kaldwin's face, and there's a ragged women's outfit strewn on the floor. Try not to think about what might have gone on in there.
  • Every time you finish Kill Cascade, you're drop-assassinating Empress Jessamine right in front of Emily.
    • From the images above, one can ily that most- if not all- of the Dunwall City Trials are Corvo's actual nightmares, based on his fears-his failure to protect Jessamine, of losing Emily, of becoming a mindless killing machine...
  • Shadow Kill can be one for his targets when you think about it. A guard leaves a room to grab some wine. When he gets back, all three of his friends have vanished. He only sees what looks like black ash falling to the ground. Said guard is joined by two more friends, who witness what looks like death incarnate blinking into existence, making a complicated gesture and vanishing again. Poor guards barely have enough time to know death is coming and there's absolutely nothing they can do about it.
    • It gets even better when combined with Bend Time. Imagine that you're an officer of the guard who's just having a casual conversation with a couple of your fellow mooks while keeping an eye out for intruders when all of a sudden, several of them just - poof - disappear into thin air before your eyes, some of them possibly Killed Mid-Sentence, leaving no trace behind but a pile of ash where they once stood, or just fall apart into bloody dice. You'd be forgiven for thinking the Outsider himself had decided to smite them.
    • Even without these tactics, Corvo can make a outright horror movie. With enough patience, one guard will always offer the chance to kill/subdue him without others noticing. Without powers, it may take 15 minutes to get rid of 6 guards, but one after the other they disappear. Once there are only 1-3 left, the remaining guards even mention confused that the guard responsible for doing rounds is nowhere to be seen...
  • The Rothwild Slaughterhouse. Lots of whale gore everywhere, a live whale undergoing a slow, painful and gruesome death and singing a creepy song, and the butchers, who really enjoy hacking Daud to pieces with their saws make for a rather disturbing mission.
    • In the Rothwild Slaughterhouse you find a note listing the number of accidents, injuries and deaths that have occurred there. Three numbers. Bundry is using the number of maimed workers as a safe code.
    • You see another example of Bundry's frightening sociopathy in an audio log where he taunts the tortured whale hung up on chains and facing his office. The sad songs of the dying whales haunt the dreams of his workers, but for him they are amusing.
  • The Geezer's whale-oil life support machine. Especially if you read Trimble's notes.
  • Delilah.
    When Pretty Emily woke one day,
    She saw a world a different way.
    Her eyes now looked with a stranger's guile,
    Her dainty mouth smiled a stranger's smile,
    Her hands now worked the stranger's wrath,
    Her feet now walked a stranger's path.
    Emily fed, another grew stronger.
    The stranger's cravings drove her onward,
    And no one who looked on Emily's face
    Ever guessed who ruled in Emily's place.
  • The non-lethal solution to the final mission of The Brigmore Witches: Daud swaps the painting of Emily with a painting of The Void, trapping Delilah there forever.
  • Corrupted Bone Charms bestow power like regular Bone Charms, however they come with a heavy price. One account mentions one that made a tooth turn black and fall out whenever used. The author passes it on to someone else who ends up with a mouth full of blood and gums and the author wonders what parts of inside him have turned black.
  • In Brigmore Manor, Daud can find the sole survivor of an Overseer team sent to scout out and monitor the compound for heretical activity. He's curled up in the corner of a side room, raving madly, and surrounded by piles of gnawed on flesh. Delilah's coven spotted and captured both men, and attempted to torture information on the Abbey's knowledge of the witches out of them. When neither talked, they killed one Overseer and force fed the other his flesh until he nearly burst. What's worse, if you choose to meet and trigger a conversation with the surviving Overseer, a witch will instantly teleport to the room and kill him.
    • The statues of Delilah are creepy enough already, especially the first time she uses one to talk to Daud. But if you get in the line of sight of one while invading the Brigmore Manor, the statue will come to life and say "I see you!" Jump Scare aside, she'll have alerted all enemies in the vicinity to your location, so you'll run away listening as the hellhounds roar at you while the witches try to snare you with their eldritch vines.
      • The worst statue is the one in the crypt, which has a bone charm at it's feet. That particular statue won't alert enemies, but it starts out covering it's face, in a manner reminiscent of the Weeping Angels. And like the Weeping Angels, when you look down to grab the bone charm, and look back at it again, it will be reaching out to grab you (accompanied by a sudden high pitched, inhuman scream).
  • The Void, with its fragments of buildings and scenery floating in nothingness, displaying characters from the "real world" frozen in time, some in the act of dying. The glowing blue apparition of the Outsider doesn't help matters.
  • The Outsider looks especially demonic, if not outright Satanic when he appears before you after finding the Rune in Granny Rags' shrine to him in the Old Dunwall Sewers towards the end of the Flooded District level; He's bathed in an eerie red light from the shrine's candles, but because he's hovering in the air and looking down at Corvo, his eyes are heavily shadowed, as are two points on his forehead, giving him the impression of horns. It's probably the single-most unnerving of his appearances, which seems fitting considering the Flooded District ends up pitting you against two other people who have received his Mark; Daud and Granny Rags.
  • Look very closely at the Low Chaos ending. One member of the audience in Emily's court is talking to a lady, while holding a large knife behind his back, as if he's planning to stab her. It's bizarrely unsettling, especially considering how upbeat the ending is otherwise.
    • If that's the case, the guy's about to eat a sleep dart from Corvo.
  • Arc Pylons and Walls of Light are bad enough, reducing people to ash in a second. The DLC introduces arc mines; palm sized devices that can vaporize people and like spring razors, can be hidden anywhere.
    • The game also allows you to attach the arc mines towards rats. Then, wait until it goes into a nearby guard... and KABOOM. There is an achievement for doing it.
  • Emily's dark change in personality during a high chaos playthrough is pretty unsettling, particularly some of the things she says.
    Emily: "When I'm empress, I want them to build two giant ships and crash them into each other. And all the men will drown. I'm allowed to do that, right?"
  • The fact that practically everyone has nightmares during a high chaos playthrough.
    • Pendleton's mentioned nightmare involves his brother Morgan "lurking in the storm sewer". Implying that, even with his brothers gone, he is still terrified of them.
    Pendleton: Morgan isn't really lurking in the storm sewer, is he? No, it's crazy. Just a dream."
    Emily: "I dreamed the river got higher and higher and we all climbed up to the top floor of the house into your room, but then the water turned into rats. I never have good dreams here."
  • One of the Heart's lines when used on a City Watch guard:
    • Also, when used on a maid:
    "If she lives until tomorrow, her day off, she will be mauled by Weepers and left for dead."
  • While playing the final chapter of The Knife of Dunwall, it is possible to kill your own men as one way to end the chapter. Or sit close enough to the scene that the Overseers start talking to the captured assassins until getting bored and executing them. Among others, with a grenade. And no matter whether you do it yourself or watch, the entire time those assassins don't betray you and remain silent until their bitter end.
  • The fate of Timsh's mother. It is unclear what had happened to her or where she is. There is only a note from the family doctor, explaining that he will no longer serve the family since Timsh actively makes his mother's insanity worse. And an audio log of Timsh adressed at his mother where he asks her to go back to sleep with the explanation that the Plague is gone, everything is alright, he is married, etc.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: