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Dishonored: Mission 5, "Lady Boyle's Last Party"

Lady Boyle's Last Party, The Clockwork Mansion, A Crack in the Slab, The Bank Job. It's the canon of talked-about, acclaimed Dishonored series levels, the moments where ingenious design, absorbing environments and great stories are considered to come together strongest in already consistently rock-solid games.

In this level Corvo has to infiltrate a fancy party, find out which of three wealthy scions is in conspiracy with his enemies, and assassinate them. The clever complication is that the sisters are all in masks for the party, and that the level randomises which of them is the real target each time you play.

Because the guests think your mask is a costume in poor taste (much to their delight) and you freely walk around the party, this feels like a Hitman 2 mission that you can still play like a Dishonored level if you want. Once inside, you can do everything by talking.

Anyway, despite the fact Sokolov's extraction had been highly chaotic on my first run, Lady Boyle's Last Party was the epitome of a Low Chaos mission. After an admittedly hairy experience getting past the tallboys outside, that is. I went into the party, schmoozed with the gossiping snobs there, brought drinks to a bored heiress in exchange for information, eventually found Lord Brisby and went along with him in maybe the most depressing "non-lethal" solution to a Dishonored objective. I didn't even go upstairs.

This time I wanted to explore more and play the Dishonored level wrapped around the Agent 47 playground downstairs. The Guard's Quarters offer hidden nooks and bonecharms for the asking, and I discovered you can use the vantage of the area to blink over to the balcony of a Boyle sister's room, deal with the guard there and simply enter the upstairs that way. Then from the bedroom there is a vent leading to another sister's bedroom. You can also get upstairs by sneaking past the overseers and going up a sort of servants' stairway, which I did after possessing a rat to discover some treasure at the bottom of the house.

What I hadn't appreciated the first time I went through this level is that to complement the precise clockwork turning on the ground floor, where AI interactions alone can get you to your objective, there is an intricate series of pathways around and above that area. Sneaking, blinking and strangling your way through the level is just as much fun.

I had made a snap decision to "store" two Boyles in a side room by possessing them and then knocking them out once inside, thinking it would be easier to just go and kill whichever turned out to be the target. By the time I had my answer (this time it was Waverly, the sister in black) however, they'd been discovered and the ground floor was in uproar. In a way, it was lucky I had a location in mind to run to and do the deed before escaping.

This is also a good point to reload a save and see what happens if you just decide to go postal and fight everyone in the level at once, if you've completed it Low Chaos. You're pretty powered up by now (if you've been collecting the runes) and a mansion full of guards and overseers versus Bend Time, Possession, Blink and a whole lot of grenades and springrazors is a pretty fun time.

Outside the confines of the Boyle compound, Dunwall is grosser than ever. High chaos or low, it is dark, the river festers, and the first thing you see as Samuel rows you to the drop-off is a tallboy blow up a would-be intruder on the bridge. You've heard about thugs in uniform - later on you read about thugs on stilts, piloting these looming mechanical monsters as the claws of the iron fist ruling the city. There are weepers and rats, and all in all you can just smell the place through your monitor. Meanwhile, the One-Percenters at the heavily guarded Boyle residence are so bored even the lavish soiree and victuals on offer inspire only tedium and nasty remarks. With the dangers on the streets, progress to the party can be hard won- once you're on the inside and in the right company though, it can be just a case of chatting up the right person.

The first time you play it, LBLP is most likely a level about information gathering, a stalwart of immersive sim level progression. Where talking to NPCs, carefully exploring and picking up readables was the smart way to get through the Distillery District, here it almost trivialises the level. Going back and seeing everything it has to offer is highly recommended, however!

Non-lethal solution
Talk to people until Lord Brisby arrives
Talk to him in the basement 
He will provide the name of the correct sister
Use the heart or talk to Miss White to find out which colour they are wearing
Lure the sister in question to the basement 


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