Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 14/09/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider seems to have come around quite quickly, especially since it was only last year that gamers were treated to the excellent Dishonored 2. This isn’t a new game in the series in the traditional sense though; instead it offers a smaller (and cut price) experience that’s based around the setting of Dishonored 2, all whilst offering an all-new story and a few new powers. Whilst it’s a smaller experience though, it doesn’t make it a bad one – in fact, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider stands out as one of the most enjoyable releases I’ve played so far this year.
Whilst the marketing for the game has suggested you can play through Dishonored: Death of the Outsider as a stand-alone experience outside of the other games in the series, I’d actually recommend you at least complete Dishonored 2 first. So many elements of the game’s narrative are touched upon that the second game would be spoilt for you if you hadn’t played through it already. You’ll probably enjoy Dishonored: Death of the Outsider a lot more if you know the characters and going-ons anyway, so it’s definitely worth giving it a playthrough.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider puts you in the shoes of Billie Lurk, who following on from her escapades in the last game has found herself facing her dark past once again when she’s reunited with her former mentor, Daud. What does Daud want? Help in taking out the mystical and mysterious Outsider, of course.
It’s funny to see Billie taking on the starring role in the game, especially since her origins begun with a bit-part role in the DLC for the first game. Now she has taken centre stage though and rightfully so – seeing this closer look at her past, her personality, and her previous relationships as well as watching her kick ass in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider shows just how great a character she is. She definitely deserves her place alongside Corvo and Emily as a leading role in the series.
Anyone who has played any of the previous Dishonored games should feel right at home, with Dishonored: Death of the Outsider feeling just like the other games in all facets of design. Once again there’s a focus on mixing up stealth with all-out action-packed combat, and, once again, it’s up to you to decide how much you utilise both.
The game’s locale of Karnaca will feel familiar to those who have played Dishonored 2, though Dishonored: Death of the Outsider does take you to a few new locations within the city. As you can expect from the team at Arkane Studios, each level is intricately crafted with the finest of attention to detail – honestly, levels don’t only look spectacular, but are also a hell of a lot of fun to explore. They also compliment the stealthy approach that the game encourages, with there never ever being just the one route to follow. Every location you visit has a ton of personality to it too, with even the most normal of rooms having hidden secrets to uncover if you look hard enough. I just can’t praise the level design enough, with Dishonored: Death of the Outsider continuing the trend of the series’ incredibly high standard.
Whilst ploughing through the mainline quests you can also take on optional missions. These typically consist of killing people and making it look like it was accidental or stealing some hidden item, so they definitely need some good sneaking skills to pull off. It was almost shocking that some of the side stuff you can get involved in is optional though; they often hit levels of ingenuity that makes it feel like a crime to miss out on them, with them often showing off things you can do in the game that you simply won’t come across just by playing through the main story alone. Honestly, they’re all worth checking out – not only because they’ll expand upon your experience as a whole, but also because they give you plenty of cash to spend in the game’s Black Market.
Billie doesn’t have as many powers as Corvo or Emily did in the previous games, whilst the powers she does have aren’t upgradable either. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have the mark of The Outsider, or maybe it’s just because we’re playing a smaller game; who knows? You can equip Bone Charms to grant yourself certain boosts and abilities, though they’re not as refined as what’s been found in previous games. It certainly grants you a lot less flexibility in how you build up Billie’s playstyle, though it doesn’t mean you’re still not able to play how you want to; you’ve just got to be a bit cleverer in how you utilise the powers you do have.
Whilst you don’t have as many powers as in previous games, the ones you are equipped with actually feel better than those you would’ve been used to. Take the ‘Displace’ ability for example, which allows you to teleport to marked spots on the map. Unlike the ‘Blink’ ability from previous games though, you can actually teleport to this marker whenever you please as opposed to straight away. It allows you to plan your actions a lot more thoroughly and in a more calculated manner, something that’s definitely useful when you’re trying to sneak around hordes of enemies or need to get out of a tight spot quickly.
Billie also has one very sneaky trick up her sleeve with the ‘Semblance’ ability, which allows her to steal the identities of defeated characters à la Game of Thrones’ Arya – Agent 47 might’ve been able to steal other character’s clothes, but Miss Lurk goes all out with her approach. It’s when using this ability that Dishonored: Death of the Outsider really shines, with there being nothing more satisfying that sneaking past a character by utilising the identity of one of their comrades. It’s not always an effective approach though, with plenty of locations in the game that even guards aren’t allowed into. All it takes is the right face though and you’ll find a lot of your problems can be swiftly solved…
Of course, this is a Dishonored game, so there’s no need to take the stealthy route if you don’t want to. Whilst previous games in the series have allowed you to play how you want though, your playstyle could actually affect the narrative. Take the first game for example – if you play through killing anyone and everyone, the final mission would take place in a dark, stormy locale whilst your ‘ally’ would also happily give away your presence to the enemies. A harsh reminder that typically the sneaky approach is the best one to take.
However, Billie can kill as many people as she wants in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider with no risk of it affecting how the story is going to play out. You’re well equipped in the game with a decent arsenal, so feel free to put it to good use if you find yourself in a difficult situation. It actually alleviated the pressure in many ways; I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to reload a checkpoint in previous Dishonored games when going for that low-chaos playthrough, so knowing it didn’t make a difference to the narrative this time around was actually kind of nice.
Clocking in at around the ten-hour mark to complete, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is not as big as a typical Dishonored release. The different ways in which you can approach the game makes it worth visiting more than once though, whilst you can always come back in to complete any side missions you might’ve missed out on the first time around too. Also, once you’ve completed the game once you can tackle it again with a few of the powers from Dishonored 2, giving you another different way in which to play the game. Don’t be deceived by Dishonored: Death of the Outsider’s ‘smaller size’, because there’s a lot more going on here than you’d think given the lower price tag.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider delivers more of what players expect from the Dishonored series: a fantastic amalgamation of tense stealth segments, all-out action-packed combat, and some incredibly well designed environments to explore. It manages to introduce some clever ideas of its own too, ensuring that series veterans will find themselves tested by the trials that Billie faces on her journey.
That being said, there isn’t as much flexibility in how much you can expand on Billie’s powers as there has been in previous games, though it doesn’t really hinder the experience in any shape or form – there’s still almost endless possibilities in how you decide to play the game.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider offers another stunning adventure that not only lives up to the high standards of the series, but also does it at a cut-price. It’s a must play title that fans of action-packed stealth adventures simply need to check out – just try to make sure you finish Dishonored 2 first…