Dishonored has been continually described as a mixture of different famous tales and artistic directions. From everything like its art style to setting, plot structure to mechanics, a lot of names have been brought up. Usually in an “X meets Y” manner like Bioshock meets Thief. Among these are usually the names of famous authors such as H.G. Wells and Michael Moorcock. Most influences brought up are usually relating to the overall setting but there are a few direct literary shout outs within the title which seem have gone very much unnoticed. Hidden in the lore which directly refer to or mirror classic science fiction tales both well-known or otherwise.
Various books and tomes littered throughout the game consist of apparent tributes. With enough world expanding texts to rival the average Elder Scrolls game, Dishonored featured everything from journals to logistics records which could be picked up and read. A specific few sounded suspiciously familiar.
The most prominent being a series titled Call To The Spheres which featured a ship travelling into the void beyond the game’s world. Reading like a combination between Wells’ First Men In The Moon and a horror story Lovecraft would write. The protagonist in question slowly going mad from the influence of beings lurking within the Void itself.
The Deep Watchers was another. One of the more extensive texts found throughout the Knife of Dunwall DLC, it mirrored the events of an H.G. Wells’ short story titled In The Abyss. Both featured attempts by a scientist in a diving bell to explore the sea floor and finding semi-sentient creatures lurking in the depths along with utterly alien wildlife. Eventually both also meeting their end in the depths, surrounded by those he had been observing.
Even background events or accounts seemed to have sections referring to famous tales
A list of events surrounding the whaling fleets when a text mentioned a trawler had to be taken in for repairs after being rammed by what was apparently a whale. Inspection of the damage revealing it to be anything but and likely some new creature. This tale which matches the opening to Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, with the Nautilus being mistaken for a massive ocean going beast. The submersible later ramming and destroying the vessels which its captain views as his enemies.
Even Moby Dick is present to some extent, admittedly not a surprise given the whaling related plot and settings, with the thoughts of an old whaler being listed in Memories. He refers back to his sightings of a huge whale as a younger man, bigger than any seen prior, and determination to hunt it down across decades. A tale which, given the use of leviathan as a term, could likely also be linked to the otherworldly Outsider. A figure who could be considered Nyarlathotep with a few degrees more hospitality and desire to spread conflict between humans via manipulation rather than direct means.
Arkane has been consistently open with its various influences both within games and literature. Articles examining the writing process behind the title and its development used quotes from the developers admitting to discussing everyone from Charles Dickens to Neil Gaiman in its creation. It seems strange that in spite of this, little if any attention was ever paid to these open tributes or alternatives to such tales.
The above examples are however only a handful of standouts from the game’s extensive lore. It’s likely that many more lurk within the plot, hidden away within the maps or the stylised accounts of many texts.