Thursday, May 23, 2013

“What a Terrible Accident” Let's Play Dishonored: Part 1: The Death of an Empress

Out of all of the games that were released Holiday 2012, none have kept my interest more than Dishonored, developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda. During my initial two playthroughs of the game, I made note of how good the game was at allowing for players to make their own rule-sets and self-imposed restrictions on how they progress through the game. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to make use of this feature by starting a new challenge playthrough of Dishonored. Inspired by this video from PC Gamer, I will play with the aim of simulating a playthrough in which Corvo must carry out his assassinations while simultaneously leaving behind as little evidence as humanly possible, making it seem all the targets suffered unfortunate accidents. As a result, the rules of the challenge are as follows:

  • Use of weaponry is strictly prohibited. After all, they will leave behind trace evidence.
  • No enemies can be knocked out via Choke Holds or Sleep Darts. They will remember the experience of being knocked out, which will lead to the conclusion that an outside man was involved.
  • I am not allowed to be detected. If I finish the mission and the “Was Never Spotted” indicator is unchecked, I must restart the mission and try again.
  • Any kills made MUST look like an accident, or else have a sufficiently plausible explanation for why they occur outside of “An intruder/Corvo did it.”
    • For the purposes of this playthrough, Devouring Swarm is an acceptable means of dealing with enemies. Since Dunwall will be in the middle of a rat plague, most people are more likely to suspect bad luck when a man is devoured by rats then magical swarms of rats being summoned from the ether.
    • While I am allowed to use Windburst to arrange falls, this is something I am unlikely to do since the power itself, in my experience, has a way of drawing the attention of nearby enemies.
    • I am still trying to decide whether or not I should allow the use of Rewire Tools as a way to arrange for accidental kills. This is because I am unsure whether or not I should assume use of such tools would leave behind evidence of tampering. Feel free to chime in in the comments if you wish to leave an opinion one way or the other. Based on the consensus, I will adapt my playstyle accordingly.
    • I am also in the middle of deciding whether or not I should permit using choke holds and then throwing guards into the river, letting them drown or get eaten by fishes. Using the sword is out of the question because slash marks will be left behind, but should I assume that choking someone will leave evidence behind that detectives in Dunwall can discover with their current level of technology? I do not know the answer to the question.
  • I do not care about my level of chaos. Despite this, it is likely that I will be going for a Low Chaos game simply because there are only so many kills you can contribute to accidents.
Furthermore, I will be playing the game on Hard with the Health/Mana indicators, sneak icon, and Objective markers all turned off. The only things that will remain on are Heart markers and a simple crosshair for the purpose of aiming and to prevent motion sickness. Every time I want to see my Health/Mana, I will need to open my Inventory and inspect myself. In exchange for an immersive experience, it is a small price to pay. Lastly, these rules will not come into effect until after Corvo receives his powers from the Outsider. Until then, I will simply adhere to a Low Chaos/Ghost style, since the type of person who would have these codes of conduct would be a professional that keeps his work as clean as possible. Now that all of the background information has been laid out, let us begin.
I've spent the past few months at sea, petitioning neighboring regions to aid our lands in our time of need. My efforts have been... less than successful. And by that, I mean that every damn island in the area has decided to instead impose a quarantine on us until we beat the plague or die. My name is Corvo Attano, and I have the unfortunate task of telling my empress exactly how screwed we are. My good friend Geoff shoots the breeze at myself and a nearby guard, both of us with a sense of dejection from the complete lack of good news we return with. We dock through Sokolov's latest contraption and return to land.

As I cross the bridge, I am greeted by the pleasant sight to the heavily-implied result of my likely romantic relationship with the Empress, her/our daughter Emily. Well, truth be told she is my daughter, but Jessamine and I like to keep our love life private. I try to be a good father. Sadly, I can only be around for her so often, especially in these troubled times. She seems pleased to see me return in one piece. As eager a girl as she is, the very first questions she has are both about my trip and whether or not I will play a game of hide-and-seek with her. Since I haven't quite worked up the courage to deliver the news to my lady, I decide take Emily up on her offer. She takes my hand, and together we race down to the garden in order to start the game.

She begins the countdown and I take off. For most other people, hearing “10” would signal the start of some anticipation regarding whether or not they'll be found. I know better than that. The girl is... less than perceptive, so I use the same tactics I always use against her. That is, I quickly dart up a nearby staircase and crouch. For some reason, Emily has never once found me. I think it has something to do with this region's education system. During my many years as a resident here, originally hailing from a nearby island nation, I've found that the people have a crippling inability to look up or even really look around when searching for things. This knowledge has been critical in many of my late night “escapes” from the palace with the Empress. Everyone suspects that we're likely an item and there are absolutely no rules against it, but there's something about not outright stating it that both Jessamine and I both adore. Perhaps it's the mystique, but I digress.

After what seem to be only a few minutes, Emily gives up the “chase” and concedes. Now that my willpower has been restored, I finally decide to make my way towards my sweet... I mean, the empress. On my way up, I am greeted by High Overseer Baldy, whose portrait is being painted by Royal Physician/Artist/Inventor/Chauvinist/Disgusting Pig, Anton Sokolov. I never liked either of those two. They seem like the type of people who would gladly shake your hand while working the knife deep into your back. Ah well, they aren't really worth talking about, but since I've worked myself up by just thinking about them, I decide to take the wine off the table in some petty plot to ruin Sokolov's latest “masterpiece”. He has talent, don't get me wrong, but his genius is only outmatched by his own insufferably.

Feeling back in the groove, and satisfied that I've denied Sokolov and Baldy a bit of wine, I head up to the Empress to deliver my report. And that's when I come across the sad sight of Royal Spymaster Hiram Burrows, who I have come to call “Mole” as both a pun off his name and the way he tends to scurry about like a rat. I overhear him arguing with Jessamine over whether or not to help the sick people in the city. Y'know, I've always joked that if you tried to stab that guy in the heart, you'd find he doesn't have one. He says something as I pass but I never pay attention to him, especially not when he disrespects Jessy's authority like that. Speaking of my love, I finally see her again after my months since we've last seen each other, and I can feel both of our hearts skipping a beat. Before I grow weak in the knees, I am reminded of my duty, and hand her my report before my heart sinks so deep into my chest that even the jaws of life couldn't get it out.

Jessy, Emily, and I all stand together, as we try to figure out how to get our city out of this mess. Those thoughts are cut short as the ruthless gang of mysterious, masked strangers appear and begin their assault. I had just enough time to draw my weapon before they struck at us. As my blade lashed out at each assailant, I could feel their bodies vanish into thin air, taunting me. When the last one fled, we were ambushed by an even stronger duo. One of them was in a mask and I could barely get a glimpse of the other. If not for their black magic, I would've cut them both down. This was regrettably not my day, as I was levitated into the air and forced to watch as the unmasked man plunged the knife into my dear. Emily was taken by the other, and they both faded away. I managed to crawl my way to Jessy, but she didn't have long for this world, dying in my arms as she spoke her last.

When her life force had finally faded, Baldy and Mole approached us. The haste of their accusation astonished me. Against all logic and common sense, they both accused me of kidnapping Emily and murdering the Empress. It didn't take long to immediately begin suspecting them of being the real culprits. Nobody accuses someone of something that fast unless they have something to hide, and these two have always found a way to piss me off. In my anger and haste to extract revenge, I grew careless, and one lone guard managed to knock me out with the blunt of his sword. Thus began my half-year stint at Coldridge Prison.

I was subjected to the worst torture you could possibly imagine. You'd think the burns and the lashes were the painful part. Please, that crap is child's play. No, the real torture came from having to listen to Baldy and Mole drone on and on about how their obviously evil plan is so good for the city and how I should be happy to die for their petty power grab. I can barely stand being in the same general area with either one of these two for more than an hour, but six-months? That was some serious punishment and wasted time that I will never get back. I guess they though that I'd sign their “confession” if subjected to enough mental anguish that I became a madman. Fortunately, I spent most of the torture in my mental happy place, repeatedly shouting “I can't hear you, la la la la!” while I imagine pulling their teeth out with pliers as a crude form of payback. But since the next day is slated to be my execution, I'm going to die never getting the revenge I so richly deserve. Or so I think, until my meal arrives, with a special package....


anaphysik said...

Devouring Swarm can only be used in areas where large rat swarms would plausibly congregate. No using it it in fancy houses ;P. Dark, dank, dirty alleyways, sewers, abandoned buildings, etc. Also note that if areas change due to high-chaos, then new Devouring-Swarm-enabled places may open up. (This encourages MORE KILLING.)

Rewire tools are acceptable to use, but you must either wait at the fusebox until after the person has died, or return there after they've died. (This simulates Corvo removing the evidence of an intentional rewire, by either returning it to its original state, or some other (non-suspicious) malfunctioning state.)
Alternatively (or additionally), rewire tools can only be used in places where skilled electricians are unlikely to be sent out to investigate/check. So you can't use them in fancy places, important checkpoints, etc.

Choking someone out and throwing them to the hagfish is only acceptable if there are no guardrails/etc. next to the area they were in - that is, if it's plausible that they could have just stumbled/tripped/fallen in themselves. Likewise with Windburst.

Also, you should aim to kill as many people as possible, and keep an "accidents created" tally.

Also, you should consider whether you're allowed to steal anything. My suggestion: You can loot from anywhere that scavengers could be found, or anywhere that no guard will ever inspect. Stealing from fancy houses is outright verboten, as is stealing from anywhere that would keep an up-to-date inventory (armories, kitchens, etc.).

You are actually allowed to use your sword (and technically your pistol, but that would generally be foolish) in some rare situations. Notably, you can kill rats with them. (The important part here is to only kill targets that city guards would kill, and only with weapons that city guards would use.) Weepers are a more complicated case, because although the guards would kill them, they would also keep a tally of those kills, and dispose of the bodies. So a slashed-up weeper laying around might look suspicious, because guards would have reported it, but citizens wouldn't have the weapons to kill them. Maybe use the 'where no guard would check' rule-of-thumb again.

newdarkcloud said...

I'm... not going to abide by that first rule, because rats are EVERYWHERE. All the buildings in the game have rats in them. I'm not even using that as hyberbole.

Interesting. It's an idea I could consider. If I get no better ideas for Rewire Tool use, then I'm likely going to use that one.

Likewise with the choke rule.

I've been thinking about how much I should let myself steal, and I think I'm going to go for the rule where I can steal anything, but I can't destroy or tamper with anything when attempting to steal. If there's no evidence of forced entry, than odds are they'll just blame the hired help.

Possibly. But in those situations you outline, it's typically easier to move around the rats/weepers instead of killing them.

Exetera said...

But, rat swarms do occur in fancy houses in the game. I seem to remember one NPC saying that an important lawmaker was killed in his office by a rat swarm...

Unknown said...

where is the video at?

newdarkcloud said...

It's a text LP, there's no video. :p