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Dishonored 2 and the obsessive note

The smallest things make all the difference

Dishonored 2 - Clockwork Soldier Bethesda

The following contains minor spoilers from the first half of Dishonored 2.

Plenty has been said about Dishonored 2. Level design, art design, voice acting, gameplay, writing, all done with a level of finesse and consistency rarely seen in video games. But as I make my way deeper into Arkane’s stealth romp, it’s the little details that continue to impress me.

One of the more obvious ones is in the Clockwork Mansion. It’s filled with merciless automatons, natch. We’ve seen plenty of robots in video games before. But rather than give these robots the standard “Bleep, bloop, DO NOT DISASSEMBLE” robot voice, the developers went another way. Instead the robots speak in the voice of their creator, making dispassionate statements like, "This playback indicates some detection without certainty," and “Okay, the machine has detected - something.”

It’s a cool choice because it makes sense. It’s the way a programmer would think, especially if he’s still in the design phase. Why bother programming a simulated voice if you’re still running these things through their paces?

But if you played through the Clockwork Mansion, you probably already noticed that. Here’s something you may not have noticed.

Entrance to the mansion can be achieved in two ways. You can either teleport you way across a dangerous chasm or use an automated cart to arrive at the entrance. In my case, I went the chasm route, so when it was time to leave, I figured I’d have to follow the same path. After all, the cart would still be parked at the bottom of the hill. A minor drag, but understandable.

But nope, the cart was waiting for me when I stepped outside. This is actually a pretty common game design device, cutting out the busy work even if it breaks some of the narrative logic of the scene. Most games wouldn’t explain it, leaving the player to fill in the blanks of how the cart got there on their own.

But not Dishonored 2.

Standing next to the cart when I arrived outside was a hapless civilian. He was non-aggressive (if moderately bugged out by my creepy mask). As I wondered why this guy was standing here, I noticed a message on his belt, which I easily pick-pocketed. It was a note from his boss:

So there you have it. An in-universe explanation for why a cart is waiting for you at the end of the mission. Did it need to be there? Nope. But I’m so glad it is. It shows just how much care was put into this game.

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