Video Game: Dishonored 2
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Studios
Designer: Dinga Bakaba
Platforms: PC, Play Station 4, Xbox One
Official release date: November 11th 2016
Price range: PC – £ 34.85, Play Station 4 – £ 44.86, Xbox – £ 44.86
If you’ve noticed, a lot of people first boarded the hype train for Dishonored when they saw the trailer (below), which depicted a masked assassin with magical superpowers. And when the game came out, they immediately went into Dishonored guns blazing, flat out just killing everybody and raising the chaos level to the point of no return. And when they got to the end, they found something unexpected: a bad ending. The sky is rainy, Emily is a sociopath (Assuming she lives), and old Samuel shoots into the sky to warn everyone that you’re coming.
But what you might not have noticed is that the whole game is telling you from the very start, that killing everybody is not how one clears their name for murder.
And here’s why: Clean Hands does not apply to everything.
The achievement’s description states: You completed the game without killing anyone. Specifically, look at the wording: anyone…
Clean Hands does not apply to animals, only the murder (Remember my word choice) of people, which is strange and rather confusing for some players. This is the first clue.
Killing someone in the prologue will cause a game over because you commited murder.
But you don’t penalized get penalized for this later on. Despite the fact that they are essentially the same thing.
Killing the assassins in the prologue does not count against Clean Hands.
This is because you’re just doing your job. You’re allowed to do that. (I will admit, this one is unconfirmed and may not actually be true.)
The Empress was killed, but you were convicted for her murder
This should be obvious enough, right? It’s the whole driving point of the game. This is also particularly important.
Emily Kaldwin, daughter of the Empress, is your charge as Royal Protector
Remember, your duty was to protect the Empress, and her daughter, who will become the next Empress. Not, go out of your way to kill people. Okay, the irony is apparent, but what else is there?
Certain dialogue choices:
Some of the dialogue reveals some interesting things:
Samuel: “I don’t like what you’ve become. No better than these traitors.”
“Traitors” has two different meanings. Think about this. You, Havelock, Martin, and Pendleton were once members of a Loyalist Conspiracy. Now? Havelock’s the Lord Regent (And betrayed you, just like Hiram Burrows), Martin’s the High Overseer (And just as much of a schemer as Thaddeus Campbell), Treavor’s now one of the most influential politicians in Parliament (And is revealed to be as big of a bastard as his brothers, and the Boyles he lusts after). And you’ve become a magically empowered assassin of Serkonan descent (Just like Daud). You’ve all become the very people you sought to destroy.
And Samuel despises you for it.
Emily: “Corvo will kill you!” Havelock: “Ha! Possibly. Corvo’s killed lots of people, but he’s terrible at saving Empresses. He’s the worst of us all, you know.”
This only plays during the high chaos ending. It sheds some interesting light on your choices.
Havelock: “Stay where you are Corvo, or I jump!” Emily: “No! Corvo, save me!” Havelock: “Quiet! He won’t. Will, you Corvo? You had your chance to be the hero. In a minute, this will be just another bloody mess you left behind.”
This, is some of the most important dialogue in the entire game. What have you been doing throughout the entire game to get this ending anyway?
Havelock: “Did you want your HONOR back? To rescue the lady in distress?. Oh no, Corvo, that’s not you.”
Oh, that’s right. You murdered everyone in the entire game to get this ending. You’re no Royal Protector. Royal Protectors fight people like you. You, who indiscriminately murdered everyone and managed to nearly topple the very same Empire you swore your life to. Makes the letter that shows up next to the Empress’s corpse in the Void much harsher in hindsight.
Speaking of which, what did the letter say again? That’s right, “YOU CAN’T SAVE HER”.
Maybe the letter is a figment of Corvo’s mind, being the Void and all. Or maybe it’s because the Outsider doubts you, and thinks you’re a total bastard like all the rest of humanity. That’s why he’s interested in all of your choices, to see if you’re willing to compromise your innocent name for the sake of vengeance.
How can Corvo call himself an innocent man if he goes out and murders people? Because if he does murder someone, he’s no longer innocent of the crime of murder, and thus will never be able to regain his honor. This is why Arkane seems to have a hard on for Low Chaos, and why it’s the “canon” ending. Because it’s the only way to resolve the story in a meaningful way. In other words…
Dishonored is a brilliant story about guilt and innocence. More specifically, the murderer’s guilt and the framed’s innocence.
It’s there from the very start, and yet nobody noticed. I can even explain the DLC this way (It’s actually even more obvious). For example, why does Billie Lurk betray you in the KoD?
Billie Lurk: “Sorry Daud, but you knew this was coming. Even if you didn’t think it was so soon. You’ve been slipping. Ever since the Empress died. It’s my time now!”
But, wait, this only plays if you decide to kill everybody. And Daud’s an assassin in Dishonored, so it actually makes sense to go out and kill people right? You’ve displayed to her just how powerful you are. Shouldn’t she be afraid? Well, see, first off, assassins don’t go out of their way to kill everyone. That’s quite obvious. But there’s also the fact that the last 3 missions had nothing to do with assassinating people. Which begs the question, are you really losing it? Why’d you do it? Daud is already capable of killing someone without “ruffling a hair on their head”. Why would you kill anyone when the entirety of the DLC wasn’t even an assassination, but an investigation?
Note that although the Brigmore Witches isn’t an investigation, it’s still isn’t Daud going out to murder someone. Except maybe Delilah, although, once he finds out about Delilah’s plan to possess Emily, he realizes it’s his chance to redeem himself, to go back on his career choices as a killer. And he’s going to start by not killing Delilah. I mean the achievements for not killing anyone is literally called “Cleaner Hands” (Remember, Daud killed the Empress. Corvo, didn’t and the achievements reflect that.) and “Cleanest Hands” (As a joke) respectively. So…
Conclusion in Dishonored:
Corvo’s story is about someone trying to regain his honor and proclaim innocence, and Daud’s story is about someone who wants to be redeemed and reclaim innocence. Both of them must go against their inner nature to do so. Corvo is sent to murder people despite being the Royal Protector. Daud is sent to protect someone despite being a murderer. Both of them have to make choices, many of which may jeopardize their quests. This is why the Outsider marked these people, because he wants to see what people do with what’s been given to them (Both their powers and the predicaments both men have gotten themselves in).
That’s what Daud means when he says in Dishonored
“I’d say I’m being punished, but I know the world doesn’t punish wicked people. We make our choices. And the rest is void.”
EDIT: Something else I just realized. This analysis explains why Daud dies at the end of the BW DLC. If Corvo slaughters everyone, he compromises his innocent name, and is still dishonored at the end of the game. But Daud never had that innocence to begin with. He was already on the side of wrong. And if you slaughter everyone, Daud is still not redeemed, and dies a villain’s death.