It’s hard to imagine that it’s been a year since we first started playing Arkane’s Dishonored 2, but just a mere 10 month’s later, we return to the era of Kaldwin as former assassin Billie Lurk sets the stage for this standalone adventure.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider takes place after the events of the last game, as the Kaldwin empire is restored and Billie Lurk is set on a journey to assist her mentor Daud with his quest for revenge on the Outsider, the god behind it all.Death of the Outsider’s narrative forms quite a fitting end to the storyline that’s spread across this standalone title and its predecessors, though its twists and turns are a lot tamer than the other games, forming what is essentially an A-to-B revenge story that feels as self-contained as it is connected to Dishonored 1&2. In the context of Death of the Outsider this isn’t an issue to be quite frank, as the game successfully portrays a more simple story that gets the point across just as well as the others, which is quite a compliment in my opinion as the game is obviously much smaller in scale due to its format. It’s comparable to what Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is to its franchise.
The main thing that sets Death of the Outsider apart is the fact that the game is much more eager to lift the restraints and limitations on player opportunities. Foregoing the need to find elixirs to replenish energy and the franchise’s Chaos system (which is narratively justified) create a sense of freedom that made me want to experiment a lot more than I usually would in a Dishonored game. The former is certainly a blessing, though the Chaos system’s removal often made me feel that I was simply taking the easy way out. It’s fun to play without the training wheels on, but sometimes setting a standard/limitation is simply a better form of motivation, in my opinion.The game offers you the opportunity to find Bone Charms and enhance your skills and attributes, but it ultimately limits you to three powers; Foresight (which allows you to recon the area remotely), Displace (a variation on the Blink ability) and Semblance (which knocks enemies unconscious and gives you the ability to disguise yourself in their likeness).
Whilst having its limitations in numbers, Billie’s set of powers is still quite useful in practice, even more so due to the fact that we don’t have to replenish mana in order to make use of it. Alternatively, the game’s New Game+ mode gives us the ability to substitute these powers for Emily’s and Corvo’s original abilities.
Death of the Outsider has a much smaller scope than the first two main entries in the series, but it more than makes up for this fact in level/mission design. Whilst not reaching the heights of the game’s best missions/levels, the roughly 7-hour game offers a consistent, challenging and detailed experience that is simply a lot of fun to revisit, which will definitely make you return multiple times after your initial session.What ultimately holds the game back is the fact that it never truly feels like a standalone title, but rather an extensive campaign add-on for Dishonored 2 itself. The game changes things up for the sake of enhancing its own experience, but nothing stands out that gives the game its own identity in retrospect, apart from changing some of the rules.
Graphically, there isn’t much to say in regards to what changes have been made. The level design and such is obviously original, but regarding sound design and graphical fidelity the game is pretty much the same as Dishonored 2 itself, looking and performing pretty much identically in that regard.