I played through Dishonored again last week, aiming to get the "high chaos" ending. My reasoning was, I wanted to kill Lord Pendleton. Normally in the game, I spare his two brothers, then he tricks me into fighting a duel in his name, and then he and the other "Loyalists" betray me. So I wanted to kill him, but in low chaos, he's already dead by the time I reach him.
Of course, the trick to high chaos is killing lots of people. Not just specific targets, not just a few guards I can't find another way around, but lots of people. Any guards I can, random people on the street. More corpses, more plague rats, more panic. So I managed it, but it was depressing. My stealth kind of went to hell, because I took chances I wouldn't to try and kill this guard or that guard, to up the body count. Besides, why bother being sneaky? If more guards show up, I'll just kill them too, right?
The city gets steadily worse. People I could help escape the flooded districts in low chaos, are dead already in high chaos. Emily, the child Empress, sees Corvo as a monster of shadows. Samuel the boatman hates my guts, though I would be more concerned if he didn't spend so much time before and after missions telling me so-and-so needs to die, or deserved to die. Then he gets pious about the killing after. Oh, every shore you touch, you bring death, is that it? Well then maybe you should get your old ass out of the boat and go deal with the Lord Regent yourself, if you don't like how I do it.
I thought it was pretty funny that, at the end when the Outsider explains the future of the world I've brought about, it shows Corvo standing at Samuel's grave, looking sad. Funny because, on that playthrough, I killed the guy. He was giving me a lot of static about being worse than the people he was taking me to kill, and I knew from a walkthrough I'd seen once that as soon as I stepped off his boat, he'd send up a flare alerting everyone to my presence as a final "fuck you." So I killed him before I got off the boat. He was dying of plague anyway (which is was supposed to be why I was standing over his grave looking sad).
That's one of the interesting things about playing through a game like this again. I know what characters are going to do, and sometimes that alters how I approach them. I knew Samuel would do that, so I killed him. The whole reason I took this approach was because I knew what Pendleton was going to do, and wanted some payback. Payback for things he had done on a previous playthrough, but not yet on this one. I'm turning into Cable.
I never particularly enjoy killing random civilians in games. It's not something I could get into with the Grand Theft Auto series, for example. I end up killing lots of people in the first-person shooters I play, but in those games, pretty much anyone I can shoot is trying to shoot me, too, so it can at least be framed as self-defense. But in more stealth-oriented games, I tend to opt for non-lethal, if possible. I like feeling sneaky, and the great majority of the people in those games haven't done anything to incur my wrath, so why kill them? Also, on a practical note, killing people can be noisy, which means more fighting, which means a greater chance of dying. And maybe I want to save ammo for some point when I can sneak past.
But in general, I don't want to make life worse for the random people inhabiting the world I'm playing in. It's not really my style. If I play through again sometime in the future, I'll switch back to a more lowkey approach.