Neoseeker : News : Dishonored: The morality of murder and why pacifism is so tough
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legendary one Oct 15, 12
I want!
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Exevier Oct 15, 12
Great article. This is something I've been loving about the game so far. Too many video games get caught up in the whole good/evil stuff, which is probably one reason it's viewed as an immature art form (if at all). I definitely appreciate the more chaotic approach to moral ambiguity being taken here.
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Spook Oct 15, 12
It's a rather chaotic game.
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SpartanNinja Oct 16, 12
This games gets better and better in my eyes I might have to splurge a bit and pick it up
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montressor Oct 16, 12
Everyone should try this game. It makes me feel the way half life 2 did the first time I played it. Truly amazing.
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Krantos Oct 16, 12
This is funny, I was just talking with some people on another site about this very topic.

Slightly different, though, as we were discussing how most games force you to kill hundreds of people, but still characterize you as a good person.

On the topic of dishonored, though, I haven't played it yet, but there is something you say in the article that concerns me. Specifically, you mention guards/nobles/etc. being made out to be universally horrible people.

My question is this: If all the guards/targets you can kill are made out to be so horrible, how morally ambiguous is it really?

See, I've never liked games that make enemies into caricatures that have no redeeming values. I understand the reasons behind doing so (make you feel better about killing them) but no one is really that one dimensional. It's far more interesting to me when the enemies are made to seem more real. No one is all bad; even the worst people in the world have some redeeming qualities, or at the very least, good people who care about them.

That's where the moral ambiguity of murder comes in. You're taking a life, supposedly for a good cause, but you're still ending a life. You're killing someone's son/daughter/mother/father/spouse/lover/etc. Does the ends justify ending their life? Perhaps the person has done something bad/evil. Does that thing cancel out any good they may have done? Are they completely irredeemable.

These are the questions I want to be presented with when I'm given the choice to kill an enemy. That makes my decision actually mean something. What I do or don't do will have personal implications. However, if you make the enemies one dimensional and completely irredeemable, you strip that meaning away. Now there is no reason to spare them. You can kill them with no moral qualms at all.

In the case you mentioned, the baddie in question was so rotten, it legitimately lead you to abandon a pacifist play-through. That, to me, speaks more of a shallow character than a well established villain.

Perhaps I'm overthinking it, but if an enemy is so evil there is literally no reason to spare them, it fails to elicit any sort of emotion from me. It's much more engaging for me when I'm presented with the option to kill or spare someone who might or might not deserve it.
Staff
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RabidChinaGirl Oct 16, 12
Krantos Not all the guards/nobles. Just a few you run into. Note that I haven't gone around and purged Dunwall of all nobles or guards.

My reasoning for the most part is that soldiers are doing what they're told. Can't expect them to drop their weapons and let you go through with your business.

And there are reasons to not kill if you look for them. I suggest playing the game. It's quite good.
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Krantos Oct 16, 12
RabidChinaGirl That's good to hear. I actually am planning on getting the game, just haven't had the disposable income yet.

The way the article is written just made me worried they had pulled a Splinter Cell Conviction and just made all the enemies all unambiguously evil d-bags.

Nice to know dishonored mixes it up.
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Fragment of Chaos Oct 23, 12
I felt that "pacifism" matched with Corvo's character perfectly. As mentioned, being a pacifist in this game is so much more cruel than outright killing your target; sometimes leading to a fate worse than death.
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Animatrix Oct 30, 12
That's what I love about this game, you can choose to not kill anyone and only dishonor those that have conspired against you or you can take on everyone in a blood lust for revenge.

And it all feels perfect for Corvo's character no matter how you play.

He's a dark, mysterious man, trained to kill and protect.
He's good and evil. He's the Outsider personified in my opinion.
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A. Watson Dec 24, 12
I've been having real ethical quandaries in Dishonored. From the start Corvo is given a sword, which gave me a conscious urge to use it on the guards who'd tortured and humiliated Corvo. But at the same time, these are by and large the same troops who served the late Empress, to whom Corvo had a strong attachment.

Killing these men will satisfy a base desire for bloody revenge, but will taint the Empress' memory and spread terror through her country. Murder is this game is, therefore, satisfying and thrilling but ultimately selfish.

The fact that most of these cards shrug of the horrors around them with callous remarks and black humour is not necessarily an indication of their evil nature but rather their pathetic attempt to cope and adapt to the world they find themselves in.
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nnnddd101010 Dec 26, 12
At the beginning of the game, when you're breaking out of prison, you can hear guards talking about how they were sad the Empress was dead. That reminded me that they're just guards. They didn't kill the Empress. They weren't responsible for my framing and imprisonment. This isn't Assassin's Creed, there are repercussions to killing everyone. Right, so, nonlethal playthough it is. What about the Bottle Street gang? A bunch of bullies and thugs. But perhaps they're just victims of the plague and the madness in Dunwall. The Overseers...they're a dangerous group of fanatics. Do they deserve to live? And they're led by one of the men who actually was responsible for my current state. I'll kill him, for sure. On the other hand, the game just gave me a hint on a possible way to take care of him without killing him. What now? There are reasons to kill or spare every character in the game.

Like Exevier said, the moral greyness of this game is one of the things I love about it.
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