Chipped plaster and rotting wood gnaw away at the walls. Pocked cobblestones run from shadow to shadow, swallowed by an empty universe. The Void’s open maw hangs overhead, the stench of death upon its hot breath. You are Billie Lurk, a creature of this universe. And you’ve been tasked with the greatest challenge imaginable—to kill a god. Welcome to Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.
Death of the Outsider takes the well-established formula of the series and mass produces it, upping only the narrative ante. I mean, what could be more exciting than diacide? The Outsider visits Billie after the first mission and grants her the power of the Void. You are left to wonder about his motivations, but Daud assures you not to trust them.
At this point in the series, can you blame him?
Whatever the reason, you are given the abilities to teleport, astral-project, and disguise yourself as the people you encounter. And these abilities, though few, make for multitudinous ways to play out the missions. I had a lot of fun with the subterfuge of Semblance, as the right face can get you into almost anywhere without a peep from guards. You can also use Displace to navigate elevated or remote paths to achieve advantage over targets and objectives.
But wait, there’s more! Your stripped-down super power tool chest is complimented by a small array of lethal and non-lethal gadgets, including shock projectiles, grenades, a marble launcher, and the always-good-for-a-laugh hook mine. As before, you can choose to be the conniving ghost or the brazen berserker, or (and I don’t know why) some kind of lackadaisical hoodlum right in between (you probably have commitment issues). The world is your playground!
But, like, a really murdery playground, stained by the blood of your most hated schoolmates…
Anyway. At this point in the franchise the folks at Arcane have made it clear how they think the story should go, but Death of the Outside still offers opportunities to alter how your story plays out. New Black Market Contracts and other optional objectives provide a spice to the shifting narrative, which means there are new things to learn with a second or even third playthrough. And the Original Game + option grants Billie new Void powers to employ against her enemies and only reinforces replayability.
There is nothing much remarkable to say about the soundtrack. Fortunately, I think, the worlds are largely silent, which makes it easier to remain aware, but can also introduce those suspenseful “Quiet. Too quiet” moments. On a similar note, I found the game’s rat voices to be over-produced, requiring me to enable subtitles to understand what they were saying.
Also, loading screens were a bit lengthy, which can become particularly daunting if you, like me, are the bungling cat burglar-type (a la Guy Ritchie’s Snatch) striving for an all-stealth playthrough. And you can only read and actually learn from the displayed gameplay hints so many times. It seems that the team tried to address this some with Quick Load and Quick Save options, but they ultimately don’t cut too much from the wait time.
All in all, Arcane Studios adds another solid-but-less-than-inspired installment to the Dishonored series. The story carries enough intrigue, and the level designs offer enough variation to compensate for the lack of innovation in gameplay and imagination in technique that had accompanied the series’ previous standalone installments. If you’re a fan of the series, I think you can get your $30 out of it, but if you’re new to it, definitely start at the beginning.