Why Dishonored allows players to kill but doesn't want them to

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Can a killer be called a hero?

That's the interesting question posed by the co-director and co-writer of Dishonored, the Definitive Edition of which is now out.

In an interview with Kotaku, Harvey Smith revealed that his team came under pressure to cut what they felt was a key moment from the end of the game where immoral gameplay resulted in a disadvantage.

[Arkane founder] Raph [Colantonio] and I made the decision, near the end of the project, if you played very, very darkly – you not only killed to get to your goal, but you also went out of your way to kill the maids and everybody else, then at the very end of the game, Samuel Beechworth, the old man who's been driving your boat around, he basically says, ‘I despise you for what you've become.'

And he pulls a flare gun out, and he fires it, and he says, ‘That's why I'm warning them that you're coming.' He betrays you. And we got so much pressure to cut that from the game.”

Why was that so important to the team? And why on earth would anyone want that particular element to be cut?

Because people are not used to video game characters being mean to them, or telling them you're not a hero, you're a bad guy,” Smith explained. Everybody just wants to be told in a video game that you're great, no matter what you do. If you slaughter everybody – you killed the maids, you killed the old people, you killed the beggars – you're great, here's a medal, you're a hero.

We decided that sounds psychotic. It doesn't match our values, it doesn't match the way the world works, it doesn't match the way any other fiction.

Imagine a novel where a guy wakes up in the morning, kills everybody in the house, goes down the street, kills everybody on the way to work, kills everybody in the office, and then at the very end of the novel, there is a scene where he is given a medal and made some sort of hero and anointed in some way. It doesn't make any sense.

What we wanted was to let you express yourself in the game, but to have the world react to that, at least in some way. Samuel Beechworth, betraying you and firing off that flare, was something we had to fight for.”

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