Funny story, the first ever article I wrote was actually a review about the original Dishonored. Okay maybe it’s not funny, but still this franchise has held sentimental value to me since its first release back in 2012. Five years later and fresh off their release of Prey and Dishonored 2, Arkane Studios continue to release new content for their devoted fans.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider follows on from the story laid out by the two DLC’s released alongside the original game, Knife of Dunwall and The Brigamore Witches and set 2 months after Dishonored 2. Unfortunately, I still haven’t had the chance to play Dishonored 2, so I will be reviewing DOTO as a completely separate entity to that.
First initial statements are pretty straight forward, the game world in which Dishonored operates in is one that will never cease to interest me. A dark grim Victorian Steampunk universe where magic and industry meld in to one. Our protagonist for DOTO is portrayed through the eyes of Billie Lurk, right hand (wo)man to Daud, the original protagonist from the original two DLC’s and Antagonist of the original Dishonored. Billie Lurk in herself is an embodiment of what Dishonored attempts to combine, Magic and Industry, a Steam Punk Cyborg with a magical cybernetic arm.
Thankfully she plays just as unique as any of the other characters from the Dishonored franchise, sporting her own 3 unique abilities and a small myriad of weapons. Voice acted wonderfully and animated brilliantly, Billie Lurk is charming but evidently troubled. Props to the performance from Rosario Dawson here as she hits all the right spots to get the balance correct to perfectly portray Billie’s emotions and internal struggle from her scarred past.
A major surprise, not sure if a good or bad one just yet, from DOTO is that unlike the previous games, there is no Chaos rating. You can hack, stab and shoot your way through the title with absolutely no repercussions. While it offers a refreshing new way to play by not enforcing the need to consistently reload a save, it also removes one of the distinctive key features of Dishonored was the allure to the Non-lethal stealth playthroughs. What was once a rewarding path way to victory, is now just a self achievement.
What makes it’s absence from DOTO even more confusing is that the majority of missions do not play out the same way as in previous Dishonored titles. Instead of being given a distinct “mark” and certain pathways to kill or neutralise them, DOTO usually tasks you to steal something or heist your way to victory, focusing on Billie’s past as a Thief in the process.
The limitation on the abilities available also provided a feeling of something that was missing. While two of the abilities in Displace and Foresight were great variations of previous abilities, the third, “Semblance” which allows you to copy someone’s face while knocking them out, was massively underwhelming and I wish I could have found more uses for it. I found myself running out of energy often and getting caught out in the open with little to no escape route other than Displacing away from the fight.
While all that being said, that’s probably my only grievance with the game. The story and plot makes up for it all. Without saying too much to give it away, the ending itself is a strange and reluctantly emotional ending to an arc 5 years in the making. Its level design is still top tier and there is still plenty to do for completionists. Each mission contains a number of “contracts” to earn more coin, which leads to minor upgrades for Billie’s gear. These are pretty standard gameplay loops and offer little variation from past titles, but what makes Dishonored great is it’s infinite gameplay loop within the stacks upon stacks of possibilities and pathways in which the game empowers you to follow.
Once again the games audio is unparalleled from any other stealth game, sound queues, voice overs and general sound FX are all fantastic. The dark atmosphere of the grim world makes Dishonored what Dishonored is all about, taking our own world and changing it in to a parallel universe in which Nursery Rhymes are changed from dark subjects in child friendly lyrics, to even darker subject to extremely dark lyrics. Rats can be heard on almost every corner, banter between guards is dynamically realistic and blood splatters from your executions are oddly satisfying. The score still remains my favourite part of Dishonored and this itteration offers very little difference from it’s counter parts. Could be viewed as a good or bad thing but for me the score is so good in Dishonored I’m okay with the lack of innovation.
As a package I found myself satisfied with my time in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. It offers a new way to play in a world and engine that many fans adore. Releases like this hold their own ground, many players even state that the stand alone episodic titles like this one are actually better than their original predecessors. While I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that statement, I would definitely take a stance of hope for Dishonored in the future. Continued episodic titles like this one could be the future of the series, new content released every now and then has potential to hold fans for a long time to come.
But alas, my time with Death of the Outsider has come to an end. A short, emotional and exciting ride through the eyes of one of the minor characters in the series. A fitting end to a plot line some consider the best in the universe so far. I’m excited to see what comes next for the franchise, I can only see it either getting better or just hovering around consistently great fun to play. But for now, any fans of the franchise have a lot of fun to be found in this new instalment.