Each mission has a target, and clumsy would-be assassins will face some nasty fights, but Dishonored doesn’t have boss fights. Designer Harvey Smith told Kotaku that this was a deliberate move to distance the immersive sim from cut-and-paste game design.
“We’re very conscious of tropes in video games that are kind of lazy, frankly. Or dogmatic is the better word perhaps. You know: here’s a boss, he reveals his weak spot, you gotta hit it three times and then three times again, whatever,” he said.
“We never really felt the need for boss monsters. And it seems like a dogmatic feature. And sometimes it’s brilliant, right? One of my favorite games of all time was Shadow of the Colossus. If you count those as boss monsters, then wow—way to take that whole feature and make it your whole game and do something utterly brilliant. And it’s one of the best 100 games of all time in my opinion. But in our case it wasn’t the focus, and we are kind of careful about avoiding those kind of dogmatic tropes that video games are built on.”
Smith also commented that Arkane Studios avoided describing Dishonored as “steampunk” and tried to leave out design elements typical of that aesthetic for similar reasons.
“One of our tenets was avoid this overly familiar because god, if you’re gonna spend X dollars on something and X years of your life, you don’t have to do exactly what everybody else has done or what you’ve seen. You don’t have to draw your inspirations from what else is on the shelf.”
Dishonored releases on October 11. Start practicing your best pull-a-sickie phone voice.