by Daniel O’Connell
This review is based on the Xbox One version of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for previous games in the Dishonored franchise.
Back when it debuted in 2012, Dishonored was praised for its gameplay. This gameplay was unique, yet also comparable to the Thief games. Players were able to explore levels, use a variety of ways to complete objects, and replay the game in order to see what they missed. Backed by its unique voice cast as well as its interesting world building, Dishonored went on to become a hit game that started a new franchise for Bethesda Softworks. Now, five years later, the Dishonored franchise delivers another hit game with Death of the Outsider.
Killing a god
Picking up after the events of Dishonored 2, Death of the Outsider focuses on Billie Lurk (voiced by Rosario Dawson), who, having gone under the alias of Meagan Foster in the previous game, reunites with her mentor and former assassin Daud (voiced by Michael Madsen) in Karnaca. Daud (who served as a major antagonist in the first game and was the protagonist of The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches DLCs) is now old and slowly dying of a mysterious illness. However, he entices Billie into taking on one last job with him: killing the Outsider, an ambiguous supernatural being that resides in a dimension called the Void, and who grants supernatural abilities to those who he chooses. Daud believes that the Outsider is responsible for the chaos that has spread around the Empire of the Isles. However, before Billie can take on this job, she is visited by the Outsider himself. The Outsider leaves Billie in an interesting state: she has access to Void-based abilities without being marked by the Outsider. However, in exchange for this, she loses her right hand and eye. These are replaced with prosthetic parts built from the Void itself, leaving her as an occult-based cyborg of sorts.
Sadly for the story of this game, its parts are generally better than its overall sum. The missions of the game are rather interesting and take you into the seedy underbelly of Karnaca. There, Billie deals with a number of different tasks in order to prepare to kill the Outsider. These tasks range from dealing with the Void-worshiping cult known as the Eyeless, to doing a heist in Karnaca’s high security bank in order to steal a knife that can kill the Outsider. However, the overall story of the game feels dull and falls flat of the aspirations to which the title tries to live up. Not helping this is the ending of the game. While not going into spoiler territory, it feels rather anticlimactic after all of the buildup in the previous levels.
On the other hand, the main characters of Billie Lurk and Daud are rather enjoyable. Both exhibit a strong relationship with each other, as Daud and Billie were both previously given characterization on the Dishonored DLCs. What also helps flesh out Billie’s characterization is the way she interacts with the environment. She will comment on certain things that she sees or notes or books that the player has read. This gives her a more fleshed out character when compared to Corvo Attano or Emily Kaldwin of Dishonored 2.
Similar, yet different
The gameplay of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is very similar to the previous game of the franchise. However, several things are now completely different from what came before.
The aesthetics of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider look exactly the same as its predecessor, Dishonored 2 (which is rather fitting, as both take place on the island of Karanaca). As with past games, Death of the Outsider offers players the freedom to explore levels to search for coin, complete side objectives, and find and collect bone charms (trinkets that gives the players unique bonuses such as more health or more mana). The black market from Dishonored 2 also returns, which allows players to buy upgrades for their weapons and equipment, as well as buy resources such as health elixirs, grenades, and ammunition. It is even possible to rob some of these black markets.
A new, welcome addition to the Dishonored formula is contracts. Contracts are optional side missions that can be picked up in black markets, and involves tasks that are done in exchange for large amount of coin. These tasks range from assassinating a mime and making his death look like an accident, to stealing the recipe for rat liquor and sabotaging a criminal gang’s supply of said liquor. These contracts are far preferable to searching through every nook and cranny in order to find coin and valuables.
As in the previous games, the player has access to supernatural abilities that aid them in their missions, and include a teleportation ability (known in this game as Displace). However, the functions of supernatural abilities have been tweaked in a few ways. All of these abilities are unlocked early on in the game, eliminating the need to search for runes (the in-game item equivalent of skill points that would allow the player to acquire and improve their supernatural powers). And mana now slowly regenerates after using an ability, thereby eliminating the presence of mana potions in the game. However, in spite of these changes, using Billie’s powers takes time to get used to, just like Emily’s powers in the previous game.
However, the biggest change overall in the game is the elimination of the Chaos system. The Chaos system, for those who are unaware, served as a type of morality system in the previous games. The Chaos system worked by having one’s gameplay affect the characters and the world around him. It was divided between High Chaos and Low Chaos. High Chaos would be earned by earned by killing enemy characters in their way and using violence to complete their objectives. Low Chaos would be earned by taking out opponents non-lethally and using stealth to complete objectives. The Chaos system was refreshing because it affected the choices you made and the way one would play the game.
As one would expect, the removal of the Chaos system in the game is a step down from the previous games. It makes the way one would play the game rather insignificant in the long run. It gives the player the ability to go on killing sprees in every level, and it would have no consequences later in the game. The removal of the Chaos System cheapens the entire lesson of the games (that the choices we make, however big or small, count). This knowledge actually manages to ruin a speech that happens at the end of the game. In fact, the only major choice that affects the outcome of the game comes in at the very last level of the game.
Another downgrade to the game is its short length. The game is only five levels long, making it shorter than the first two Dishonored DLCs. This makes for a quick game that one can complete in a few days, but still yearn for more. However, this short length is balanced out by having the levels be more dense, bigger, and having tons of side contact to do.
Featured image from DualShockers
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
'Dishonored: Death of the Outsider' is a great addition to the 'Dishonored' series. Like most games, it has its shortcomings, such as the removal of the Chaos system, a lackluster story, and short length. However, its gameplay, replay value, and density of in-game content definitely make up for these shortcomings. It's worth the relatively small time commitment for those who are fans of Dishonored or the stealth genre in general.
Story and Characters
Level Design and Content
Ryan is a Music Media Production major who wrote the first ever Byte music review and has been involved with nearly every other section at some point. He is also an event planner at Village Green Records and the primary booking coordinator for the store’s outdoor concerts.