There aren’t many things more satisfying than silently destroying your enemies and their lives onces they’ve destroyed yours. While the game punishes you for being particularly bloody in your actions, I think that shouldn’t stop you from slitting the throats of any City Watch member you see fit. While the game presents you with a handfull of powers to use to eliminate your enemies, there are only three I think are even worth considering: Blink, Dark Vision, and Shadow Kill. Combined with the proper amount of patience and strategy, no enemy is invincible, and you are.
Who doesn’t like teleportation?
Sometimes you get it right the first time. Blink is the first power you obtain once meeting with the Outsider, and it is completely possible to finish the game using it alone. The ability to go places otherwise unreachable is invaluable in any stealth situation. Blink gives you this and two additional benefits: escape and warp-kill.
Unless you’re some kind of stealth game master, at some point or other, you’ll be detected. Corvo is no stranger to a fight, and the wide variety of weapons he’s equipped with make minor skirmishes survivable. He can’t take very many hits though, and bad timing on even one attack will send you back to the loading screen. For this reason, and because Dishonored is ultimately a game about staying in the shadows, it’s best to be sneaky.
When you get into a scrape in Dunwall, your first thought should be on how to get away from it. Upgrade Blink to level two as soon as possible and practice climbing and warping to a variety of heights and distances. Once the fighting starts, take out only those guards in your way or who pose a direct threat to your escape. Once done, take quick stock of your surroundings. You’ll want to go both away and upward from your foes. As a rule, two blinks will give you enough distance for about three seconds of breathing room. From there, breaking line of sight is simply a matter of knowing what walkway goes where, and sometimes that doesn’t really matter. Once the guards calm down, teleport back into the mission area and continue playing.
As you go through the various missions, you’ll find yourself in a position to insta-kill many of your enemies from a variety of angles. One of my favorites is the warp-kill, and it’s as simple as it is effective. Once in a position of stealth where you know the enemies can’t see you, simply aim the blink marker right behind the guards as they walk, then quickly silence them. Paired with a blink from a significant height and a drop assassination, there are few feelings more enjoyable than knowing you can kill and disappear in less time than it takes to blink twice.
A shadow’s eye
Dark Vision and Shadow Kill are quite different abilities, if only because one is passive and the other takes an active use of mana. However, their tandem use, with the addition of Blink, makes for a battlefield free of corpses but littered in empty helmets and unsheathed swords.
The best use for Dark Vision is of course analyzing and predicting enemy patrol routes. It also makes avoiding guards much easier, as even when alerted and searching for you, you’ll always know where they are. If you want complete stealth, Shadow Kill removes the need to hide bodies, so long as you actually kill. The second level removes the necessity of unaware enemies, making the piles of corpses combat leaves nothing but a few black motes that quickly dissipate. In fact, if you want to be less stealthy assassin and more badass warrior, Dark Vision allows you to amass a large group of hapless guards, then Shadow Kill lets you clear an area without the hassle of all those stinky corpses. Unless, you’re into that kind of thing. I won’t judge.
Regardless, sometimes it’s better to knock someone out to attract attention in one area while you clear another. With the Strong Arms Bone Charm, easily acquired early in the game, choking is quick enough to make body placement a breeze. Since you can warp while carrying bodies, finding the perfect spot at the perfect time is easy. Once your bait is set, Dark Vision will allow you to precisely time when the guard will find his buddy, and by the time the alarm goes up, you’ll either be done with that area or have disabled/rewired it.
Between the two, I’d recommend taking only Shadow Kill to level two. Dark Vision is powerful enough to begin with, and while seeing where wires lead and where important quest items might be, that’s more gravy than it is useful. And exploration is part of the fun of Dishonored, as is experimentation, so knowing everything defeats the purpose.
Out of all the ways I’ve found while using Dark Vision and Shadow Kill, by far the best is the art of experimental distraction. Sure leaving a body is all well and good, but it’s a constant reminder that you’re in the area. The crossbow gives you far more freedom as far as distant noises, and combined with the optical mask upgrade, you can draw attention as far away from you as you please without killing a soul. Once you know how the guards move, try hitting a nearby wall with a crossbow bolt. See how they react, and with Dark Vision equipped, do it from a safe location. If you like take a few pot shots or put some guy to sleep with the poison darts. Like a spider weaving a web of paranoia, you can manipulate your foes into going exactly where you want them to.
From there, it’s up to you whether to disintegrate them or simply leave them wondering where all the noise came from.