The immersive sim is one of the most rewarding genres in gaming. The more you put into them, the more you get in return, and the Dishonored series is one of the best examples of this in recent years. Death of the Outsider is a smaller scale adventure at around half the length of 2016’s Dishonored 2, but it retains the same brilliant core of exploration, experimentation, and player choice.
This time you’re playing as Billie Lurk, a character whose prominence in the series has grown incrementally since her first appearance as a side character in DLC for the original game. Set several months after the events of Dishonored 2, she finally tracks down her old mentor, Daud, who is being held captive by a cult named The Eyeless. Once rescued, he asks Billie to help him with one last hit: the Outsider himself.
Interestingly, Billie doesn’t bear the Outsider’s mark, unlike previous protagonists. She instead gains powers from Void artefacts she finds or receives, such as her right arm and ruby eye. While she has fewer supernatural abilities than Emily or Corvo, the ones she does have still allow for plenty of fun ways to tackle missions and fights. Displace is this game’s Blink equivalent, but instead of travel being instantaneous, you set a marker and can move to it whenever you like, assuming you’re close enough. This might sound stilted compared to Blink, but it actually enables a slightly more tactical approach to navigation. This is especially true when combined with her second power, Foresight. This allows Billie to pause time, leave her physical form, and fly around marking important objects and enemies. In this state, you can also set a Displace marker, and this combination can help you come up with some wonderfully satisfying solutions to problematic areas.
Semblence gives Billie the power to steal someone’s identity, letting you slip past guarded areas easily, and you can also listen to the whispers of rats, which will sometimes give you hints about the current mission. It’s a fun set of powers that you’re encouraged to utilise fully; the Void energy you use for these abilities regenerates fairly quickly, and this replaces the need to hunt for blue potions. Not only that, but the chaos system seems to have been removed, meaning you can play as violently or as quietly as you like with no narrative consequences either way. This liberates not only Billie’s supernatural powers, but also her weaponry. It’s now less of a problem if you’re going for the low chaos route and things go awry, as you can fall back on your voltaic gun, sword, or collection of mines and grenades without changing anything important.
As you may expect, you’re given plenty of room to experiment in the game’s five chapters. The first is quite small and acts as a tutorial of sorts, but the later levels are far more expansive. The third level, in which your aim is to rob a bank, is a particular standout; it’s a perfect example of Arkane’s eye for detail and intricate, intelligent level design. If you enjoy Dishonored’s particular brand of environmental storytelling and its endless nooks and crannies, both are here in spades. You can even take on contracts during missions if you feel like an extra challenge. These side-quests net you a fair amount of money to use at black markets for upgrades, but more importantly, encourage exploration, pushing you into areas you may not even have thought about otherwise.
In terms of story, Death of the Outsider doesn’t do anything to surprise. It’s an entertaining story that wraps up the Outsider’s tale nicely, but there are some things that go unexplained, and it all comes to a head quite abruptly, which left us a little cold. As with past entries, however, much of the best writing can be found within the environments in books, letters, and other world building titbits. The lore of Dishonored’s world is fascinating and consistent – it isn’t too often we will stop and read all the text in an abandoned journal or newspaper clipping.
Graphically, it’s on par with its predecessor, running on the Void engine and retaining the painterly, pseudo-Victorian aesthetic you know and love. Performance wasn’t ever a problem, although we did notice a fair few instances of poor quality textures that took a few seconds to properly load in. It’s not the biggest problem in the world, but it can be quite irksome, especially in a game that often looks stunning.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is another solid adventure that’s just as generous and involving as either of the main games. It’s a shorter experience, but everything you love about the series is present and correct, and as always, replayability is extremely high. Billie is a great character and inherits some cool abilities that allow for multiple approaches to missions. Some narrative niggles let the game down a bit, and it feels a little rushed at the end, but all told, this is every inch a Dishonored game, which can only be a good thing.