I love love loved this game and I have so many thoughts about it. SO MANY. And now you have to listen to me ramble.

I picked it up because of the trailer at last year’s E3. Those like me who follow these types of things will probably be aware that E3 2015 featured an unheard-of amount of female protagonists in the trailers, and Dishonored 2 was one of them. I’d heard great things about this first game and the new trailer looked badass, so it went onto my list. Also you should watch the trailer because I am now SO EXCITED for this game.

Where to start? Well, the biggest flaw first: it was definitely a sausage-fest. It was 2012, so this is a bit more surprising than it would be in like 2009, but if that trailer is any indication they’ll all aboard the lady train (wow that sounded creepy). (The team has also made a point in interviews that inclusivity was on their minds for the sequel, which is cool.) That said, Emily is a great character, I appreciate that the one ‘good’ politician was the female one (though admittedly, she was assassinated to kick off the plot) and there are an even amount of male and female townies and other NPCs, it’s just that the major players are all dudes. There’s a few things in the flavor texts that make me think this was a “fictional-historical accuracy” thing.

Let’s talk about whales.

When I was a kid (and still now) I was obsessed with marine biology. I loved whales (and still do). Nonetheless, I have this recurring nightmare about whales. I’m floating in the middle of Noyac Bay, and the water is dark and rough and much deeper than it’s supposed to be, and whales keep poking their heads about the water. Humpbacks, blue whales, etc. They don’t do anything or come near me, but they’re very much there, and in their element in this treacherous water in a way I’m not, and they’re gigantic relative to me, though not bigger than they are in real life. The entire dream is just me floating there being terrified of the whales. I wake up anxious and stressed.

In stories, whales have come to represent the unattainable, but there’s a lot of things that are unattainable — whales also signify the unknown, the dangerous, and the primal. A whale is something you can’t understand, and if you reach for it, you tumble into the ocean and drown, monkey that you are. The ocean is fucking terrifying. It’s massive on a scale that’s hard to comprehend, populated by some of the largest and most dangerous creatures on the planet, and we know absolutely nothing about it. Yet we’re attracted to it, whether it’s for sustenance or science or mere curiosity. I think whales represent all of this. And while it may just be me and Herman Melville who feel this way, I think the dev’s choice of a whale motif as a symbol for the plagued city suggests that it’s a more human association.

The subtle, constant reiteration a) that the whales in question are mutated, morphed animals, twisted versions of the whales we know; b) that no one understands why whale oil and bones work and no one has the resources to dedicate to why; and c) of the Heart’s insistence that the butchering of the whales for resources signifies the End of an era… these all come together to take this symbol of the unknown and its mysteries and hang it over the city constantly. The scattered, enchanted whale bones and the eerie, luminescent whale oil are atmospheric on their own, but they carry with them this cultural symbolism of the Whale that makes them immensely more effective at communicating tone. A dying society that’s butchering mutated whales and using their bodies to fuel machines and bones to fuel religion it so much more heavy than if it had been some made-up animal, or even like elephants or something. They shouldn’t have gone after the whales, white or otherwise. The people of this society have peered into the abyss — the oceanic nothing — and are falling into it with every step they take.

And indeed, the aristocrats dance while the world burns and people are consumed by flies.

Which brings us into another one of the game’s main themes — the contempt of the rich for the poor. I really enjoyed the things the Heart had to say at the Boyle party about the aristocrats. I enjoyed the Heart in general, but we’ll get to that in a second. The discussion of the belief the rich have that their position is somehow cosmically earned, that they not just want but need to believe the poor deserve their suffering, and how they throw these parties even as the world falls apart to justify that belief was really excellent. I think the Heart’s dialogue did a good job of pinning down this specific iteration of the human need to believe that somehow, we are okay, even when everyone else is not. We won’t get sick, we won’t lose our homes, we won’t go to hell — because we’re rich, we’re religious, we’re right not wrong, etc. And of course, there’s the final reveal, which hammers in how this belief destroys in its falseness.

I should probably tell you about the plot. Your are Corvo, the official bodyguard to the Empress, and are framed for her assassination, at which point you’re broken out of jail by a resistance to the assassins and tasked with placing the Empress’ daughter, Emily, back on the throne. A godlike creature called the Outsider (who’s narrating the sequel trailer, actually) gives you supernatural abilities and a beating Heart that directs you to his artifacts as well as allows you to hear ‘secrets’ about people you point the Heart toward.

Oh, and it’s also a game. Boyfriend, after watching for a bit, said, “So this is basically Steampunk Assassin’s Creed?” And yes, that’s literally the best way to describe it. It puts more emphasis on the choice between violence and pacifism than AC — you can decide to Ezio through the game destroying everything in your path, or take a more stealth approach — but it’s essentially AC set in steampunkland. It takes my favorite parts of AC and expands them, though. I mean, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was in AC for the wall-scaling and jump missions (well, and the ancient aliens), and Dishonored is 99% wall-scaling so I was happy as a clam. Though, like I said, you also have the choice to murder your way through with wild abandon and never scale a damn thing. But the dev’s comments about the feedback they got makes me think most people, like me, were scaling the shit out of walls.

One neat thing I read was that during playtesting, QAers found tons of exploits using Corvo’s powers the devs didn’t intend, and the devs loved it, expanding them all wildly and making every level absolutely huge. The game encourages you to break it, which I loved. The first major map area is prefaced by a screen encouraging you to use every resource available to find a path, and that there were multiple ways to complete each mission. This was great, and there’s lots of replay value.

Spoilers from here on out~~

I wish Corvo was less of a self-insert. I generally don’t mind the wRPG totally-open-character thing, but I really wanted to know him better. His rise and fall is fascinating to me — it’s the exact kind of character arc I love, someone who has a dark past but isn’t a bad person and is tirelessly dedicated to those he loves. And so much happens to him! In a flash, his whole life falls apart, not just in the sense that you lose your position and become a wanted criminal, but also because of the implication that Corvo is Emily’s father and thus Jessamine’s lover. And then on top of everything else the Outsider basically strips him of his humanity, and he becomes some kind of demonic entity tasked with restoring order. I WANT TO KNOW HOW HE FEELS ABOUT ALL THESE THINGS. This setting is so goddamn ripe for fanfic. I want him to have a complete breakdown over his whole life falling to pieces and I want to see it all because I am a cruel, cruel audience. I needed things to get all Archer up in here, and I didn’t like that I was forced to keep a distance from him as a person in the interest of power fantasy.

The snippets we do get of Corvo-as-Corvo (as opposed to Corvo-as-PC) are nice. I love that he signs his name in the guestbook at the Boyle party — sarcastic mother. I love how affectionate he is with Emily, no matter how bad things get. I love that he never acts on the information he gets from the Heart, and he doesn’t seem to judge people. I just really wish there was more of C-a-C.

Speaking of Corvo and Emily, I liked the subtle way their relationship came out. I would guess that her parentage was one of those known secrets, and she seems to both understand that (she calls him by his first name) but also know who he really is, as seen via the drawing she does of him titled “DADDY.” Emily is a great character overall. I read that the devs came out of the game super fascinated by her and wanted to tell more of her story, and I don’t blame them. She’s strong, but weak in all the ways a child would be. I like that she puts on a brave front and cries at night when she thinks Callista is asleep. I like that she spends time with her dad training in martial arts and swordfighting but still knows on some level she has to learn the princessy things that let you rule, like history and manners. She really is the natural choice for protag of the sequel, and as much as I love Corvo, I’m glad the devs didn’t shy away from that.

Then there’s the Heart. I loved the Heart both for what is revealed about Corvo as well as its more meta function. First of all, using the “secrets” function to reveal tidbits about the other characters and their pasts was great. I sometimes would create saves and then run around getting myself killed trying to Heart major NPCs so I could be sure I’d heard everything before continuing. I need ALL OF THE FLAVOR TEXT. But as I said above, I also found it kind of interesting that Corvo never seemed to act on the information he got. At first this irritated me, but I actually think it ended up working. Corvo always seemed a bit detached from his world — in fact, you hear guards and former peers talk about how weird and aloof he is (which, ugh, I would totally love a prequel story about him and Jess hooking up, that would be an awesome relationship to explore — there’s so much character stuff here I want to know more about!). So it makes sense that he’d want to stay out of people’s lives. Also it’s understandable that he wouldn’t know how to explain how he knows these things. One of the missed character opportunities I wanted with the whole Outsider plot was an exploration of how it affects him to essentially be pulled into this cult that’s looked down on by high society. Everyone thinks of the Outsider religion as some kind of satan-worship and that note you find from Martin about how even though they’re spies they should still be doing church business like sussing out Outsider worship — imagine how Corvo must have felt seeing that! Of course he didn’t want to tell anyone, he’d be even more of an outcast. He’s already a foreigner, an orphan, a social climber, the feared hired muscle of royalty, and the queen’s mistress (is there a male form of this word? hmm), it’s not like he needs to add anything to his list of “reasons people are freaked out by me.”

But then there’s the meta side of it, which is that Corvo serves as kind of a player expy with the Heart. He listens in, impassionately, to people’s lives just because he’s curious and wants to hear. He never acts on the info but proceeds down the path he was going to anyway. It’s understandable that the Outsider gives it to him and it provides useful information, like tipping you off as to the Loyalists’ betrayal, but at the same time the only real path available to him is also the only one available to us. His behavior is understandable, but at the same time it serves the needs of the players. This is good writing.

Seriously spoilers ~~~ go play now and then read this paragraph ~~

One of the few story criticisms I have is that I felt the ending was a little abrupt. I did actually like the lack of a final boss battle, but I thought that — at least on the Good/True End path — there needing to be something more. I think a kind of social battle where you can convince him to give up or he attacks you would have been really cool. Something kind of like Exeunt Omens. I actually really loved that by the time you get to him he’s completely snapped and in his paranoia has killed everyone else. But that doesn’t change that it is something of an emotional letdown. I also think a wrapup scene where he and Emily meet their remaining allies in person would have helped ease into the epilogue bit. Even like 30 seconds of it.

~~~~ end spoilers ~~~

So — yes. I absolutely adored this game and I’m extra-excited for E3 next week now because I think we’ll probs get some gameplay videos and a release-date confirmation for the sequel, among other things. Really, go watch the sequel trailer! I think the last game I played I enjoyed this much, intellectually, was probably Radiant Historia, which the blog is telling me was in October of 2014. Geez, I am picky. Regardless: check it out!


  1. Roarke says:
    One neat thing I read was that during playtesting, QAers found tons of exploits using Corvo’s powers the devs didn’t intend, and the devs loved it, expanding them all wildly and making every level absolutely huge.

    Yeah, emergent behavior is one of the best things about video games.

    the feared hired muscle of royalty, and the queen’s mistress (is there a male form of this word? hmm)

    Consort? Boy toy?

    I needed things to get all Archer up in here,

    If you start hoping for every protagonist to become Archer, you will go mad. Trust me, I’ve tried.

    1. illhousen says:
      “If you start hoping for every protagonist to become Archer, you will go mad. Trust me, I’ve tried.”

      Though it would make for an interesting mental exercise. Take books and other media reviewed on this blog, replace the protagonist with Archer, see what happens.

      So then, starting with the latter stuff: Dresden Files, Unwholly, Exalted.

      1. Roarke says:
        Hm. If you took Emiya Shirou and turned him into an Exalt, who would be his patron? The neverborn, who twist him into believing that death is salvation?
        1. illhousen says:
          Nah. Shirou was all about saving people, Shirou-Archer was all about saving people through killing other people, and pure Archer has become disillusioned with the whole thing because he was forced to kill again and again, without seeing an end to humanity’s conflicts.

          You can probably play it as Shirou of one splat or another being manipulated by some of the more saner Abyssals into going after specific targets on promise that removing them from the picture would stabilize the world (and then he would see everything spiraling out of control faster instead), but working for Neverborns directly is really not an option.

          I mean, the very process of becoming an Abyssal involves a Death Lord asking you if you want to live even if it means destroying the world. They’re very upfront in their requirement spiel about what you’re getting into.

          I think you can build Shirou either as a Solar with Conviction as the prime virtue, with Archer being what he becomes after the Great Curse does its work. Shirou-Archer probably would fit well among Sidereals with their For the Greater Good policy and fate manipulation. Saving people through killing other people is pretty much their shtick.

          1. Roarke says:
            Well, unlike me, you actually know the setting, so you’re probably right.
          2. SpoonyViking says:
            I think you can build Shirou either as a Solar with Conviction as the prime virtue,[…]

            Twilight Caste, of course.

            1. illhousen says:
              That’s debatable. Twilights are great occultists, scholars and inventors. Shirou does have talents for crafting legendary swords out of his soul, yes, but otherwise he’s a pretty shitty magus and isn’t very scholarly-inclined. Archer has UBW, sure, but I’m pretty sure there is a high-end Melee charm that basically allows you to do pretty much the same thing.

              Besides, his legend is that of a warrior rather than artisan. So I’d peg him as a Dawn with Craft favored.

              1. SpoonyViking says:
                Yeah, but from what I remember, all Castes are excellent warriors – they just differ in how they fight. Load him up with Craft Charms and Melee Charms, don’t take any of the Sorcery ones, and bam! Especially seeing as how Archer relies more on skill and strategy than raw power, I’m not sure Dawn would be a proper choice.
                Plus, for all that Shirou is said to be a shitty magus, he gives a lot of exposition regarding magic and mythological figures, so I’d argue against him not being that scholarly – in spite of what we’re told by the VN.
              2. illhousen says:
                It’s more that every caste can be great warriors if you build them right, though Twilights in particular tend to heavily utilize the Solve Problem spell and stay out of the front lines (well, until they can summon giant robots, anyway).

                In the end it comes down to which caste has more favored abilities you like and the caste power you prefer.

                Twilight is not a bad fit for Archer mechanically (their ability in particular would allow him to survive more harm as it reduces damage dealt to you), but I don’t think he quite fits thematically since, as I said, his legend is that of a warrior rather than a scholar, and he approaches problems as a warrior.

              3. SpoonyViking says:
                Fair enough If we’re favouring a thematic connection, though, shouldn’t he be a… I forget, is it Eclipse the Caste for spies, assassins, saboteurs, etc.?
              4. illhousen says:
                Night. Eclipses are diplomancers and great riders. Iskander is totally an Eclipse, for example.

                Night is more for outright assassins, with their caste ability allowing them to hide the anima flare and use charms in secrets. Probably a bit too on the sneaky side for Archer, who is more open about what he does, though may fit Shirou on his way to becoming Archer.

              5. Farla says:
                What about Zenith? Resistance and endurance and integrity/willpower and self-denial and ability to keep moving after taking a stupid amount of damage, then hyper-specialized in swords to be able to do things similar to others but only at swording and nothing else.
              6. illhousen says:
                Hm. That would work mechanically well enough, but I always associated Zeniths with leaders and priests, which is not exactly Archer.

                It does demonstrate that he can be statted as nearly any caste depending on which of his aspects you want to emphasize, though.

              7. Farla says:
                Ah, I find the the weirdo hermit side of resistance/endure/survival more interesting than the performance/presence of the head priest so that’s where I jump. Also it’s funny because if Shirou was a Dawn caste then him getting on the battlefield would be an obviously good idea, and a Twilight caste turned out to be the ideal for the battlefield, while I’ve never heard anything useful about Zeniths.
              8. illhousen says:
                Hm, I see your point, and it is funny, but why would he get Zenith Exaltation to begin with? Dawn is obvious as he goes against many powerful opponents and sometimes wins way above his nominal weight class. Twilight I can see with him projecting the super-weapon in HF. Night may work on his way to Archer as he did a lot of shady operations. Zenith, though? I’m not sure he does anything to warrant it, especially since his story ends with people turning against him and executing for his crimes.

                Though, speaking of execution, I wonder how Archer would fare as an Infernal. It’s not hard to give him a great failure he would manage to survive to attract a demon. I wonder which Primordial would fit as his patron and which one he would favor.

              9. Farla says:
                especially since his story ends with people turning against him and executing for his crimes.

                That’s like every prophet, though! It was practically a requirement by the time Jesus did it.

                Hadn’t considered the issue of how he gets it, though. Let’s see…while the superman thing seems a straightforward Dawn thing, he really takes it up because of his dad and it’s basically the willing assumption of another’s karmic debt, so there’s priest-as-sin-offering. I think you could argue that Archer’s path repeats this, where he’s accepting the hatred of those around him rather than ever asserting himself. Oh! And the grail deal he makes to become a hero itself – he may not know how shit of a shit deal it is at the moment, but he knows enough and we know Shirou faced with Archer was still saying he’d do it, so even knowing full well he would sacrifice himself.

                That would actually slot right in as the exaltation – Shirou becomes Archer for our sins. He isn’t really a proselytizer, so it’s missing that aspect, but he does the “live to your ideal as a shining example to others” aspect of non-evangelical priesthood well enough. Except obviously he doesn’t do so well he doesn’t get backstabbed by people who disagree, but everybody who’s anybody ends up backstabbed.

                Infernal, now…that’d fit with the latter-day aspect of his heroism well. Infernals itself is such a mess it’s hard to say which would fit him, though – I’m :/ at the versions of the yozis we got in that book, and it’s those versions that we have examples of exalts for.

                Malfeas…self-loathing and tanking stupid amounts of damage, but the human side being more functional at the whole “kingship” deal and believing it’s his purpose to make a good society for everyone?

                Infernals as we’re given them work best as very self-centered exalts, unfortunately.

              10. illhousen says:
                Hm, yes, Archer as an embodiment of his ideals being the reason for Zenith caste I can see working. And his eventual disillusionment in the whole deal fits the theme of the Great Curse as well since he basically abandons what made him deserving an Exaltation due to his human nature being incompatible with his ideals.

                “And the grail deal he makes to become a hero itself”

                Minor correction: it wasn’t a grail deal, it was a deal with Alaya, the collective will of humanity to survive. Normally, it just maneuvers people in the right place at the right time so they could prevent extinction-level events from happening (for example, it led a wounded woman to die in the murderhouse in KnK and then led a drifter thief to discover the corpses within so the weirdness of events would be noticed by the police and eventually attract Touko to investigate), but occasionally it recruits direct agents, Counter-Guardians, to go and kill everyone involved when everything else fails.

                Archer is one of them. In life, he was granted the power to do what he felt was right because his goals were close enough to Alaya’s. In death, he became an exterminator with little free will left normally.

                “Infernals as we’re given them work best as very self-centered exalts, unfortunately.”

                True. I like the fan idea of Infernals being more branched-out. Less following specific Yozi and more adapting their aspects that resonate with their own nature. So someone may pick the “I’m in such an agony already, your puny attacks don’t affect me” aspect of Malfeas as favored but not his “everything’s on fire now” aspect. Cecelyne’s charms to survive and thrive in a desert but not her social stuff. Adorjan’s running but not her weaponized emotions. TED’s CCC but not everything else, etc.

                The basic idea of transcending humanity and becoming something monstrous is still preserved, but the evolution is guided more by the initial human nature than by the nature of Yozi.

                But with Archer… Yeah, thinking about it, the really fun charms that outright change you would lead his character away from what he is, and the rest would basically be tools, which is not very interesting.

              11. Farla says:
                Maybe what’s-his-not-face, the dragon caged in his own wings? I didn’t like most of the actual info about him but he seems like a good choice for the I Reject Your Reality and Substitute Swords bit. That’d also fluff nicely with how Shirou can’t shrug off massive injury like the Malfeas charms but ends up transforming into something totally different and not very suited to conventional life as he attempts to hold his body together, plus the skill of projection itself and having such a ludicrous element.

                And the fact yozi charms generally suck for the obvious non-evil application and you have to pick and choose carefully would continue to fit with Archer having the deck stacked against him.

              12. illhousen says:
                Oramus? Well, he isn’t yet a part of the Reclamation project, so nominally his charms are not available for Infernals, but in theory nothing stops him from joining.

                The aspect of substituting reality suits him well, yes, though he’s too ephemeral and changing to fit Archer otherwise.

                While we’re on topic of those other Yozi, I quite like the imagery of the Silver Forest and his soul the City of Mirrors. I think the idea of being trapped among his own reflections does fit Archer, and one can do some weaponized emotions charms based on it. Something that would help him act on his ideals even as it destroys them, perhaps.

              13. Farla says:
                Oh, that’s a good point. It’d fit with Archer looking so different than Shirou as part of his self-improvement, he’s repeatedly becoming a slightly different reflection of himself to become the ideal hero and the changes add up, as well as the fact his stuff is lesser copies, plus the fact he inevitably ends up fighting himself.
              14. illhousen says:
                Yep. There isn’t much info on the Silver Forest that I can remember, but it seems like an endless search for unobtainable wholeness would fit the imagery of a myriad broken reflections and trees growing with roots upward.

                Charms would probably be similar to Nemesis Self Imagined Anew tree, only aimed at yourself, more permanent and with different drawbacks (loss of intimacies, perhaps, or inability to restore Willpower by acting on your motivation, something along those lines). Even as an Infernal becomes more and more capable of acting on their ideals, there remains less and less reason to do so as the cause becomes slowly lost.

          3. Farla says:
            Conviction? I’d really go with compassion, it’s not always useless. Shirou can’t accomplish much of anything unless he’s trying to help someone.

            Archer would’ve built up his conviction until it overtook compassion, but it’s still his weak point as shown by how bad he is at following through with the one selfish thing he wanted to do.

            1. SpoonyViking says:
              Does Exalted still have the Conscience virtue?
              1. Farla says:
                Compassion is basically that.

                Compassion, Conviction. Temperance, Valor. High compassion forces you to help others even when it’s a bad idea, low temperance makes you wander off into drugs and orgies, low valor makes you run away while high valor makes you unable to turn down a fight, and conviction, the patron virtue of munchkins, is the keep doing what you decided you’d do one. (It probably shouldn’t be a stand-alone virtue, honestly.)

                High compassion/high conviction characters are exactly the sort of hot mess you see in Shirou. They can’t limit themselves to achievable goals, they won’t change their method of accomplishing things either, and they absolutely won’t give up.

                Since exalts can use their virtues to add extra dice to relevant rolls, when Shirou’s doing something that flat out can’t be done by someone like him, that’d be channeling a virtue and getting extra dice. Archer likely shouldn’t get either compassion or conviction dice when fighting Shirou – he may really want to change his fate, but it’s completely violating his original convictions – while Shirou can do both, which somewhat closes the gap, then the fact Shirou is bleeding out the whole time should be forcing compassion checks on Archer that he’s got to blow points of willpower on.

            2. illhousen says:
              Hm, yes, I can see it. Was stumbled over the whole “saving by killing” thing generally not fitting Compassion, but with a gradual process of rising Conviction it would work.
              1. Farla says:
                There’s also burning willpower and the possibility of his virtue flaw turning off compassion rather than maxing it – there’s virtue flaws that make you obsess over one person, and if the temperance virtue flaws can make you go on an epic pub crawl, maybe Shirou’s compassion flaw makes him willing to do anything to other people to save the first person.
              2. illhousen says:
                Hm, yes. The way I see it, the more elegant solution would be for the flaw to pretty much be about replacing “save all people” with “save the maximum amount of people with the highest probability of success, even if it means killing other people”. Over time, Shirou built his convictions around thee idea until it overcome his Compassion, so when it comes to Archer, things he believed he must do became indistinguishable from things the Great Curse told him to do (with an undercurrent of Compassion he had to suppress every time, which led to limit breaks making his job easier and angst afterwards deeper).
              3. actonthat says:
                TIL never to mention Archer is passing in a post.
              4. PostguestivePostistPhase says:
                I thought you already knew the regulars here are the biggest damn FSN nerds on the webz…

                On your next unrelated post, mention Sakura. Or Issei. Either can be argued to be polar opposite of Archer, which is something we can argue about offtopically.

              5. Roarke says:
                I thought you already knew the regulars here are the biggest damn FSN nerds on the webz…

                The worst part is that this is entirely untrue. We’re relatively tame.

                On your next unrelated post, mention Sakura.


                Or Issei.

                Ah, that guy. What a tool.

              6. illhousen says:
                “The worst part is that this is entirely untrue. We’re relatively tame.”

                Indeed. We didn’t even have a proper power level debate, and Shirou being able to fight Gil despite the latter having A in every stat has passed almost unmentioned, as I recall.

              7. Roarke says:
                Yeah, we have the minimum level of competence/common sense needed to understand that the stats are at worst meaningless, and at best secondary to the narrative. We could hardly call ourselves F/SN nerds at all, with that in mind.
              8. SpoonyViking says:
                …Now you’re making me feel bad I complained about Rin being able to beat up Medea. :-P
              9. illhousen says:
                As well you should. Even taking stats into account, Casters were established as being basically borderline humans outside of their magecraft, so Rin’s punch working is perfectly reasonable.

                Her being able to match Medea spell-by-spell is more questionable, but Rin was spending rare and expensive artifacts her family was crafting while Medea was going on skill alone, plus wasn’t able to go full artillery assault due to the space constraints within that church.

              10. SpoonyViking says:
                If Medea can cast a spell faster than Saber can charge at her while in melee range, she should have been able to react faster than Rin’s comparatively pitiful attack!
                …Sorry, had a nerd-out there. :-P
              11. Roarke says:
                You mean when she casted her spell “like a lightning” on hands-down the most badly written day in UBW?
              12. SpoonyViking says:
                Oh, it’s even worse than you remember – she cast it “like a wind”. :-P
              13. Roarke says:
                I had to be sure:

                If Saber is a wind for charging ten meters in a flash, Caster is a lightning for finishing her spell even faster.

              14. SpoonyViking says:
                Ok, so it’s even worse than I remember.
                To be fair, I’m pretty sure we can ascribe the “a wind” and “a lightning” thing to the translation, not the original prose.
              15. Roarke says:
                Well, Medea did straight-up say that she was toying with Rin. She let Rin get the first move at least once just to show how easily she could counter it. Even then, she forced Rin to use an entire gem per spell, when each gem could normally protect Rin 3 times, because she had to nullify the attacks or watch Shirou get iced by the splash damage.

                edit: Honestly, UBW is absolutely full of villains whose downfall comes because they won’t just finish off the protagonists already. Gilgamesh, Kirei, Caster. Terry Pratchett would have sat them all down and gone seriously guys, stop.

              16. illhousen says:
                Hm… Servant Pratchett.
              17. SpoonyViking says:
                Too OP, he would have narrative causality on his side.
              18. illhousen says:
                Only as long as his Master is a good person. Pair him with a douchebag, and things will become interesting.
              19. Roarke says:
                No, he could only win it if the other Servants all ganged up on him at once. A single brave man outnumbered by his foes and trying to save the world…
              20. SpoonyViking says:
                Hm, I can’t see Pterry fulfilling the same narrative role as Carrot or Cohen. I think he’d be more like the Vimes from before the “badass creep” of later books, maybe even like Rincewind.
              21. Roarke says:
                He was knighted. He forged himself a sword. He’s got this.
              22. SpoonyViking says:
                I suppose he could work like Roland does in The Wintersmith: terrible with a real sword, but great with his imaginary sword – or, in this case, terrible at fighting except when wielding his own sword thanks to the power of imagination.
              23. illhousen says:
                Clearly you should mention Touko in the next post. She doesn’t get enough love in the fandom.
      2. Hyatt says:
        It took me three comments to realize you weren’t talking about going all *Sterling* Archer…
        1. Roarke says:
          I think you could fit Sterling Archer into Harry Dresden’s life pretty damn well. He’s lazy, irresponsible, sexist, and morally repulsive, but people rely on him anyway because he’s one of the only guys with his level of skill.

          Now, he’s more of an active womanizer than Harry “Let Me Fantasize Every Five Seconds and Call it Chivalry” Dresden, but I think that would actually make the books better, because it’d lead to more situations wherein Archer faces actual narrative consequences for his behavior.

          Also, it’d be more interesting for him to be in broke not because he’s not in demand, but because he constantly lives above his means.

          1. actonthat says:
            I actually think S.Archer-as-Dresden would be kind of amazing. S.Archer is supposed to be the butt of the exact jokes Dresden plays straight, so you could very simply slot him in there, shift the narrative so that it’s not in love with him, and have a workable sendup of urban-fantasy genre cliches.
            1. Roarke says:
              Right!? It’s so perfect. Would we be putting Lana in Murphy’s spot, though?
          2. Hyatt says:
            It’s also fairly easy to fit Sterling Archer into any video game protagonist’s spot, because let’s face it, most players play like they’re Archer: wing it and violence their way through and just assume everything will turn out just fine.
          1. actonthat says:
            omg thank you for this
      3. SpoonyViking says:
        Well, for starters, the “Dresden Files” novels would be so much shorter, what with Archer actually being efficient and not wasting time dicking around with the antagonists.
        Heh. I just remembered a Terry Pratchett quote – from Men at Arms – which Butcher would do well to learn: “If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you’re going to die. So they’ll talk. They’ll gloat. They’ll watch you squirm. They’ll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar. So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.”
        1. Roarke says:
          I always did love that quote, and RIP Pratchett, such a great man, but we’re honestly seeing that sentiment less and less as time goes on. “Monologuing”, as I think it’s called, has gotten pretty passe and it’s been parodied to death.

          Hell, even way back in the ’60s, you had Tuco in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly going “When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”

          But that movie came out after the ’40s, so obviously Dresden never watched it.

          1. SpoonyViking says:
            Hm, I wonder about that. Sure, we make jokes about it, but I don’t think it’s so uncommon even nowadays.
            Plus, the general idea is that evil people will toy with those at their mercy and prolong their suffering to enjoy. It doesn’t have to take the form of an actual monologue revealing their plans.
            1. Roarke says:
              Yeah, I mean, it’s still a good observation of human nature, but it’s become to my mind less relevant as a statement on good vs. evil as time goes on. Obviously it doesn’t need to be a monologue, but that is the classic example.
              The trend these days, from what I can tell, is for villains – evil or not – to stray from that kind of indulgence. That’s what makes them so scary: they’re competent.
              1. SpoonyViking says:
                I don’t see a justified monologue as a mark of incompetence, but I see your point.
    2. actonthat says:
      The internet claims “consort” refers to a legitimate spouse of a monarch, but “boy toy” would be kind of amazing.

      And yes, I’m setting myself up for consummate disappointment.

      1. Roarke says:
        I guess that explains the “Prince Consort” title I had at the end of Dragon Age: Origins. Hm.
        1. illhousen says:
          Now you’re imagining being officially called Prince Boy Toy.

          But yes, Prince Consort was a thing when there was a ruling Queen marrying someone without a claim to the throne.

          1. Roarke says:
            The character would have been completely fine with having Prince Boy Toy as his official title, since he doesn’t need any more super-impressive power fantasy-type titles. He saved Ferelden. He’s a death machine.

            Listen to the Prince Boy Toy. PBT. Yes, Loghain, even you. You might be my father-in-law, but I’m your Prince Boy Toy. Second in power only to my wife, your daughter.

            No, put that dignity down. I didn’t say you could pick it back up.

            1. illhousen says:
              Speaking of Loghain, I remember a friend telling me about his playthrough of DA and how he accidentally started a dialogue about his character’s upcoming marriage with his love interest… don’t remember who. Zevran, maybe? Anyway, the dialogue proceeded as usual, with the character assuring the love interest that the marriage was for political reasons only and that they would still be together.

              And Loghain was there. Watching. With his typical “I disapprove so hard, there are no numbers to measure it” expression.

              It’s kind of a shame that you can’t initiate dialogues like that in sequels.

              1. Roarke says:
                That’s a pretty funny coincidence, yeah. It doesn’t fit super well with Loghain’s character, though. He knows it’s a political marriage and he’s a practical guy, so his interest in the Prince Boy Toy probably begins and ends at making sure he at least gives Anora an heir. Hell, he might not even care if Anora has an illegitimate child. Alistair was a bastard but was still treated as having a strong claim, after all. Though he is a Theirin by blood, while Anora’s bastard wouldn’t be.

                Like, my PC still chased Morrigan to the ends of the fucking earth after the marriage. He’s a delinquent trophy husband.

                Edit: Then again, I haven’t played Inquisition, so I don’t know how all of that plays out. And don’t spoil it, I will play it. Someday. Maybe after Undertale? No wait, I’m done playing Undertale. I got the Good End and I’m too much of a wimp to do the Genocide Run.

              2. illhousen says:
                Yeah, it was funny more in the “Why am I here? Is this what my life had become?” on Loghain’s part.

                I didn’t finish Inquisition yet either, actually, because I keep getting distracted by stuff. Also because it’s fuckhuge.

                And Undertale has successfully guilted me into not doing the Genocide run, though my determination is wavering lately.

              3. Roarke says:
                For me, the tipping point for do/don’t on the Genocide Run is how big of a slog it is. Like, I’m really interested in fighting Undyne and Sans, and just generally seeing how the characters change due to the awful circumstances, but the mechanical requirements for the Genocide Run successfully keep me away on a practical level.

                Also, as I said, I’m a wimp.

              4. illhousen says:
                There is actually a working trainer with instakill random encounters function, so all you need to do is run around long enough.
              5. Roarke says:
                Still too much of a wimp, honestly. Especially since using something external for the convenience of making killing easier seems even more morally bankrupt.
              6. Gust says:
                There are simulators online that do a pretty good job approximating the battles. I don’t know how good of a job, because I usually die around the 2nd or third turn.


                Fight them guilt-free. You’re not really fighting them, are you? Are you just toying with them to see what it’s like? :)
                (sorry i had to)

  2. Socordya says:
    Glad you liked it.

    Well, the biggest flaw first: it was definitely a sausage-fest.

    I remember that one blog post somewhere saying there were totally strong female characters and the Empire was clearly a matriarchy (joke of the year) and how dares Sarkeesian criticize Dishonored!

    If you haven’t played it, the DLC (where you play as Daud) is a bit better on that front, though not exactly stellar either.

    they’ll all aboard the lady train (wow that sounded creepy).

    “All Aboard the Lady Train” is probably the name of a Japanese porno.

    There’s a few things in the flavor texts that make me think this was a “fictional-historical accuracy” thing.

    Something which struck me in this game is that literally no women wear skirts. They’re all in pants. I think it’s interesting because it shows that the people making the game realized that just because it’s an “historical” esthetic doesn’t mean you have to adhere to every trope, but they failed to take the next step.

    I enjoyed the Heart in general, but we’ll get to that in a second.

    It was really fun, but, because Apple make shitty mouses, I often ended up accidentally slitting the throat of the person I was trying to use the heart on. Awkward. Had to reload.

    Though, like I said, you also have the choice to murder your way through with wild abandon and never scale a damn thing. But the dev’s comments about the feedback they got makes me think most people, like me, were scaling the fuck out of walls.

    The game is pretty good at making you feel guilt for people you kill through little details. Like that one letter the overseer you just killed was planning to send to his lover in which he said he was going to run away. Or the list with the name of all the people that elixir Granny Rag asked you to poison was going to go to.

    I wish Corvo was less of a self-insert. I generally don’t mind the wRPG totally-open-character thing, but I really wanted to know him better.

    He is truly the most generic bearded badass of them all.

    the queen’s mistress (is there a male form of this word? hmm)

    In ASoIaF they say “paramour”. I like it it sounds distinguished.

    1. Socordya says:
      Also, is moving on from disqus to wordpress for the comments at some point still in the cards? Not to rush you or anything, I know you’re busy. Just asking.
      1. actonthat says:
        It is. Last I heard Negrek was going to look at it when she had a chance, but I haven’t followed up. I’ve been job-hunting lately, so I’ve been a bit AWOL.

        I wonder if we could have both so that old comments are preserved and then we could move forward on the new ones?

  3. RandomName says:
    Hi Guys! (This is the same Random Name as before, can’t log in for whatever reason) Um sorry i haven’t been around much lately but things have been REALLY bad for me IRL lately (As in I’ve been fantasizing about jumping off balcony’s and the like) so I’m sorry. Um I mostly skimmed this post because I didn’t want to get too many spoilers but I just wanted to say that the first two sentences were adorable af and brightened my day a bit, thank you.
    1. actonthat says:
      If you ever need to talk please feel free to email me! Stay well <3
      1. RandomName says:
        Oh uh thank you very much, what’s your email if I may ask?
          1. RandomName says:
            Thanks a bunch, uh I can’t right now but I’ll probably email you in a few hoursish, [email protected] is where you’ll be getting it from.
            1. RandomName says:
              I sent’chya the email BTW
  4. EdH says:
    I also really like the Heart because it shares voices with the Empress (that and the Heart being pissed at Daud). Corvo protected the Empress, and now even after his fall and her death Corvo is still protecting her. And if they were lovers, you could say they’ll never leave each other now.
    1. actonthat says:
      Yeah, when I put it together that it was her heart I was like OH FUCK. The game was really good with subtle reveals like that, and small symbolisms.
  5. PostguestivePostistPhase says:
    Dishonored is awesome and amazing. But this review is distressingly lacking in rats.

    “The game encourages you to break it, which I loved.”
    You have no idea (or maybe you do, I dunno):

    “Though, like I said, you also have the choice to murder your way through with wild abandon and never scale a damn thing.”
    Your fatal mistake is assuming they’re mutually exclusive.

    “Let’s talk about whales.”
    Yep. You missed rats though. Rat is an obvious symbol of poverty and plague, which is the entire setting in a nutshell, but rats also have cowardice and desperation and betrayal going for them, despite Disney’s best efforts. Which is also the whole plot in a nutshell. So if you were to put Dishonored disc into a nutshell, it’d evolve into a rat.
    Then Outsider grants power of weaponizing rats, which is hitting the game’s face with its own theme.

    “and the queen’s mistress (is there a male form of this word? hmm)”
    Mister. At least linguistically/grammatically.

    “I love that he never acts on the information he gets from the Heart”
    But I kill dudes all the time based on what Heart has to say about them, and I’m Corvo.

  6. SpoonyViking says:
    A whale is something you can’t understand, and if you reach for it, you tumble into the ocean and drown, monkey that you are. The ocean is fucking terrifying. It’s massive on a scale that’s hard to comprehend, populated by some of the largest and most dangerous creatures on the planet, and we know absolutely nothing about it.

    That reminds me of Stormbringer, the last “Elric of Melniboné” novel, chronologically (although there were other stories published). It says pretty much the same thing, and Elric speculates that the ocean is an influence of Chaos on the material plane, and that’s why some people are drawn to it and others fear it.

  7. PostguestivePostistPhase says:
    News: They cast Stephen Russell to voice Corvo next time. This is the best casting in the history of best castings.
  8. Axel Grease says:
    “The ocean is fucking terrifying”

    Yeah, and I’ll find a way to get it to bring your end about.

    1. Act says:

      I kind of want to ban you for a death threat, but this is so pathetic I’m not sure it counts.

  9. Anon says:
    This is an odd request, but is it possible to bring Dishonored 2 over? I liked your review of that. If you can’t no problem.
  10. So I finally got around to trying this, and… I was less impressed, sorry. I got through the first mission with Campbell, but then lost interest. Maybe I’m just bad at FPSs, but the gameplay was extremely tedious and frustrating. Pacifist runs are extremely slow, boring, and stressful because even getting spotted raises chaos, but combat is also pretty meh. So many of the tools and powers are combat-focused, so trying to play nice locks off most of the mechanics. (Also, I was annoyed that you couldn’t sell bullets, especially since if you’re playing pacifist you never use them anyway.)

    But more than that, I just didn’t feel any intrinsic incentive to play nice in the first place. The enemies are all such awful people, and the Heart only ever seems to confirm that further. It told me that one Watch guard was going to kill two people and then himself — how exactly is it less chaos-y for me to let him live to do that? And then you fight the Overseers, who are ridiculously, absurdly over-the-top evil with no redeeming features. The Heart started telling me to stop asking it for information because they were all so evil it was making her sad. Like, what’s my motivation here? Why shouldn’t I burn this organization to the ground and salt the earth? It’s all so cloyingly grimdark that I just couldn’t connect with anyone (except my poor Heart friend).

    1. Socordya says:

      The thing is having a higher chaos actively makes the plague worse. You see evidence of it in later missions where there’ll be more weepers and swarms of rats. I think the idea is that by disrupting Hiram’s security apparatus you prevent him from fighting the plague (which he is also doing on top of playing dictator).So basically the moral dilemna is acting upon your sense of justice and desire for revenge vs. overall well-being of the city.

      Pacifist runs are extremely slow, boring, and stressful because even getting spotted raises chaos, but combat is also pretty meh. So many of the tools and powers are combat-focused, so trying to play nice locks off most of the mechanics.

      You don’t have to go full pacifist to have low chaos, though. You should do alright trying to be stealthy while also killing someone here and then when it’s convenient and stashing the bodies. Especially if you go out of your way to do the alternative takedown on the main mission target, which lowers chaos a lot and is also pretty satisfying since it often involves something worse than death.

      Most powers do have non-combat applications. Blink is obviously your bread and butter and you should uprade it first (the added range is very useful to play vertically, corvo can teleport and stand on the tiniest ledges and lampposts), but the time warp can be used to sneak past people (especially when you uprade it since it becomes a full time-freeze and you can just walk past people and through walls of light), summoning swarms can be used as distractions and for body disposal, possession works on animals…

      With the exception of the gun which is really only useful when you want to fight the whole neighborhood, the weapons can be used while being stealthy too. The sleep dart for instant silent takedown, the crossbow for sneaky sniping.

      1. So basically the moral dilemna is acting upon your sense of justice and desire for revenge vs. overall well-being of the city.

        I got that, but everyone is so awful that it seems like murdering my way through would also improve the overall well-being of the city. I’m really, really tired of “Killing evil people is wrong because the magic mumbo-jumbo says so” narratives.

        1. Socordya says:

          There is no magic mumbo-jumbo. There’s an epidemics that’s killing tons of people and killing people who otherwise deserve it makes it worst.

          1. The plague is supernatural, isn’t it? I don’t see how simply getting seen hurts the security’s ability to deal with the plague if it’s a totally mundane thing. The cause-and-effect just isn’t clear to me at all, especially since we keep getting told that everyone’s corrupt and bad at their jobs.

            1. Socordya says:

              The plague isn’t actually supernatural. You can learn how it came to the city in one of the later missions

              I’d say getting spotted makes them worry more about you and pull more ressources to find you which could be used elsewhere? Regardless, I don’t think getting seen raise chaos by that much, it’s mostly about how many people you kill. I just checked on the wiki, and all things being equal, high chaos corresponds to killing 20 percent of the population of each mission, with the hidden very high chaos modifier if you kill over 50 percent.

              I do agree that the link between you actions, chaos, and the plague isn’t well explicited in-game, though. That’s mostly my charitable interpretation.

        2. Roarke says:

          At its best, the Hitman series does the ‘minimize exposure’ thing right. If you aren’t seen and/or make the assassinations look like accidents, you not only get more money and less media attention, sometimes the newspapers will mention an unexpected side benefit of you only killing the asshole you were paid to. You still gotta kill the assholes because they’re assholes, but there’s no call for mass-murder. I liked that about the series, in addition to the stealth/puzzle mechanics of the murdering.

          1. I have heard good things about the Hitman series. A game design Youtuber I follow really loves it. I might try it some time.

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