Dishonored 2 begins by throwing you in a locked office against your will, trapped and unarmed. An open window across the room teases the possibility of escape, so – once you’re done rifling through the room, reading discarded notes and idly spinning a globe – you climb onto the ledge outside. There, you are teased with a vista of smokestacks and gothic spires. You can taste freedom, but a huge pipe blocks your path. You head back inside, and it’s only then that you realise there’s another window, closed, just across the room. Open it up and slip outside, and that promise of freedom is fulfilled.

"Most [players] struggle for a while," says level design director Christophe Carrier. "When they find that these windows can be opened, they often react like ‘Of course, how didn’t I think of it before? For them, it became some kind of unconscious guideline for the entire game that is: ‘I should try things that I assumed were not possible’."

The resulting freedom can be discombobulating; today, players are hardwired to seek out alternate routes solely for collectibles, rather than to move through a level in an unexpected way. Dishonored 2’s trick is no more than a modern variant on old school side-scrolling platformers would reward you for moving left along the screen at the beginning of a level before venturing right.

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