Dishonored depicted a city in the throes of a commerce- and people-killing plague spread by nests of vermin as Corvo Attano stuck it or snuck it to his wrongdoers. Yet Dunwall also plays host to a secondary epidemic far less sinister in nature: words. Speaking to New World Notes (opens in new tab) , Dishonored co-creative directors Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio revealed the freeform stealther holds "roughly 90,000 words in AI-driven one-liners and spoken dialogue and another 40,000 written words in the form of notes, books, and graffiti." Sticking to the novel-sized script is a sizable cast of around 100 characters, half of which exist in the tattered books, journals, and clippings peppered upon Corvo's journey.
Smith and Colantonio also shone a whale-oil lamp on the literary, music, and film influences shaping Dishonored's narrative cocktail, saying, "Many people on our team made mention, on a weekly basis, of various influences from Herman Melville to Mervyn Peake. You could point to Thomas Burke (for Limehouse) or Dickens as general influences, and as people who have added to the cultural map that most of the team shares.
"During development, we discussed the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Michael Moorcock, Neil Gaiman, and others. Films like Gangs of New York, Perfume, and Anonymous factored into our research. As we've mentioned before, some of us love the Decemberists and took small influences from the lyrics of Picaresque and Her Majesty."
Both Smith and Colantonio felt "most proud" of Dunwall's emergent nature and how players experience the mass neurosis of the crumbling city, but a few embedded plot elements earned Arkane's love. Spoilers: "The Heretic's Brand, Campbell showing up later as a weeper, Emily's final drawing (based on high/low Chaos), and the Empress' little room of leftover stuff in Dunwall Tower."
The rest of New World Notes' interview (opens in new tab) spotlights some more interesting tidbits on level design and Dunwall's identity.