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In Dishonored, can you complete optional tasks after completing a mission?

I've just killed the first assassination target and am about to climb in the boat, however there is an optional task for the old granny that I've not done yet.

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Sure, so long as mission completion doesn't in some way cut off your access to an NPC or area required to complete that optional objective.

Until you get back on the boat, everything you do still 'counts', regardless of whether you've achieved your primary objective already.

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In my original question by "completing a mission" means when you get the mission completion screen where you see the various statistics about how many coins, kills, runes, etc you get. I'm unsure how this relates to your first paragraph. Does seeing the mission completion screen mean that you've entered a new area? –  Annan Oct 17 '12 at 14:21
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@Annan Yes it does. Sorry, your mention of being about to get back in the boat confused me. Once you see that Mission Complete screen it's over. There's no going back unless you replay the whole thing. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Oct 19 '12 at 14:38

Each mission is a self-contained mission; once you get to the mission completion screen, the only way to do anything else with the mission is to replay it.

Certain tasks can be completed after you complete the mission objective as said above. But completing the mission as you state closes off that mission and starts another.

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