Moments in PC Gaming That Abandon a Pacifist Run

I never really understood the appeal of pacifist races in games. I have been on this earth for decades and have spent all these long years trying to finish absolutely no one. Why would I want to play a game where I can finish people and then not finish people—especially when this game is full of wonderful deadly weapons? This is finally my chance to indulge in a little harmless thirst for blood! I’ll take it.

What I understand is the appeal of the added challenge that comes with a pacifist race. Their camouflage must be flawless, because they can not start to blaspheme if something goes wrong. Simple finishs turn into complicated finishs, and bodies must be safely hidden to avoid alerting more enemies. Observing, planning, listening and memorizing are required to learn level layouts and enemy patterns. It’s the kind of work that goes into a speedrun—but then you do it slowly and carefully.

It seems like a great way to replay a game you love, and in 2012 there was nothing I loved more than Dishonored. I was looking for an excuse to play it again, and in order to change things, I decided not to finish anyone. (It doesn’t hurt that Dishonored also gives you more enemies in after levels, plus a more depressing ending if you finish a lot at the beginning of the game.)

Immediately I knew that a pacifist series of Dishonored would not be my jam. finishing and getting rid of people in Dunwall is so much fun. There is a landmine that cuts through people with barbed wire. You can rewire the electric grids to vaporize enemies passing through them. You can call swarms of rats to eat people. And I’m just supposed to suffocate unconscious guys and hide their still breathing bodies so they can get on with their lives? What am I, a Good Samaritan?

But I did, and for a while I enjoyed taking a more leisurely journey through the plains of Dishonored, closely observing and learning the patrol patterns and choosing the perfect time not to strike fatally, and then hiding to carefully hide the sleeping guards I had suffocated. However, eventually things went wrong.

It started on a level that had a room with high shelves. I had strangled an unconscious security guard, but there were several others nearby, so I took the sleeping security guard and dropped him on one of the high shelves. It was high enough that passing guards could not see the corpse when passing by. Perfect.

These shelves have become my favorite place to store the body for the level. I choked someone, brought him back and put him on a shelf. The problem was that the shelves were crowded pretty quickly and I had to put one man on the floor, while I was already rearranging the other two up there. I was in the middle of it when I heard noises and saw the guy I had put on the floor being devoured by rats. Thin. It’s not exactly my fault, but it still counts as a failure.

I started from my last backup point and stuffed some bodies on the shelves again, but when I tried to be quick, I was discovered by a security guard and finished in a panic. I started again, this time I dropped one sleeping guard on the floor while manipulating another. The rats ate it again.

I don’t know how many times I tried to put three different guards on these shelves, but things kept going wrong and every time it led to someone dying and ruining my pacifist race over and over again.

I still remember exactly how I stared at the three sleeping bodies at the top of the shelves on my last attempt. It seemed like I had finally done it. Then, as I was watching, a security guard slowly slipped off the edge of the shelf. He landed on his head and broke his neck. Still failed.

Good. Good. I was done with those eggshell neck bait guards. I stabbed one sleeping guard just because, and threw the other off the shelf and watched him bounce on the hard floor before he was overrun by rats. Then I made a point of intentionally finishing all the other guards throughout the level in the most horrible way, even the ones I would normally bypass.

And after all this care, gently crawling and dodging and neutralizing enemies and trying again and again to achieve a body count of zero men, it was so liberating and satisfying to just make ham on everyone else! That’s why I’m not suited for pacifist races: not finishing has made me a much worse finisher than ever. From now on, I will stick to the roughness. Because if I don’t do that, things will get very, very bloody.