Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
One of my primary points of criticism about the Dishonored games has always been its morality system. Killing people is bad; doing anything else is good. Many of the non-lethal resolutions are dizzyingly cruel, but since nobody actually died at your hands, it’s considered the positive approach and NPCs will fall all over themselves to praise you for your mercy.
In Death of the Outsider, that system’s not present. You’re still “graded” at the end of levels based on how stealthy you were and how many bodies you dropped, but the amount of violence you employ has no real effect on the world, aside from how populated it is. It’s weirdly freeing, especially since I kept reverting to type without thinking about it. In Dishonored 2, I’d run away from a bunch of random cultists because I hate having the NPCs give me static; in Death of the Outsider, I set them all on fire with a song in my heart.
Death of the Outsider is Dishonored 2 stripped to the bone: no morality system, no power upgrades, no blue elixirs (your Void energy just regenerates on its own), and only five chapters. If you liked Dishonored 2, this is more of the same with a couple of interesting ideas and one really good map; if you didn’t like Dishonored 2, this isn’t going to change your mind.
You play as Billie Lurk, heading back to Karnaca after the events of a low-chaos run as Emily through the events of Dishonored 2. You’re back in town to find Daud, the Knife of Dunwall, and help him carry out one last job: the assassination of the Outsider, the strange devil figure who endows certain people with powers and ignores his legions of worshippers. What’s truly odd is that the Outsider seems fully on board with the idea, to the point where he endows Billie with several powers all her own.
You get a mobility power, of course, which is the same effective short-range teleport as Corvo and Emily got, and the ability to remotely explore an area and “mark” various targets. The interesting power in Death of the Outsider, for my money, is Semblance, which lets you take the appearance of an unconscious NPC and walk around in a virtually impenetrable disguise for as long as your energy bar can hold out.
I’d like Semblance more if it was implemented differently. I was saying last year that Dishonored‘s formula could use a few tweaks, such as the ability to steal clothes or identities Hitman-style, and I was psyched to see it make an appearance here. In practice, it’s not as great as I’d hoped, as moving with Semblance up slowly drains your Void energy, which makes it good for a couple of minutes at best. You can pull off some clever tricks with it, like impersonating a target so you can mimic his voice, but it doesn’t last long enough for a truly bold infiltration attempt.
Another slight problem with how Death of the Outsider works is how it handles upgrades. Without Runes, all of your potential improvements are offloaded into Bone Charms, which you can find scattered throughout each map. Once again, you can break down the useless ones and recombine them into custom models; once again, most of the charms’ locations have been randomized. You may end up getting a really good one in the first stage and breezing through the rest of the game (and the charm which lowers enemies’ detection radius if you mark them with Foresight is stupidly overpowered), or you may end up with dozens of useless charms. I tend to favor stealth in these games above all else, so every charm I got that augmented my swordsmanship was effectively wasted. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there are only three or four good bone charms in the entire game, and the rest are largely irrelevant. It’s a problem that both Dishonored games also had, to be fair, but most of the truly valuable upgrades were bought with Runes instead.
That’s really about it. This is a decent expansion to Dishonored 2 and sets up a new, potentially interesting status quo for the series, but it takes out so much of what Dishonored 2 had under the hood that it feels a bit slight by comparison, and the few brand-new additions are heavily limited. I don’t regret playing it, but it’s hard to say more about it than that it’s a stripped-down pseudo-sequel.
Reviewed By: Thomas Wilde
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
This review is based on a digital copy of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider for the PlayStation 4 provided by Bethesda Softworks.