How many games let you kill a god? Quite a few, as it happens.
But in the case of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving deity. The titular being is arguably responsible for many of the misfortunes that have befallen Dishonored’s steampunk-esque world. You, as protagonist Billie Lurk, have been tasked with introducing him to the business end of your boot and ensuring that mankind is free to mess up on their own.
While terminating a god may sound like a mammoth task, in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider it’s a surprisingly straightforward endeavour. Despite being a standalone product, Death of the Outsider is more of an expansion pack than a sequel, a mere five missions standing between you and your ethereal nemesis. The very notion of killing a god is so ambitious that it deserves a grander, more expansive narrative, especially since the game is meant to conclude the Dishonored series.
Yet while the game’s premise would be better suited to a fully-fledged sequel, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider still manages to do the series proud. It takes the previous title and trims away the fat, resulting in a more streamlined experience that, despite its brevity, represents the pinnacle of the series. The game takes place in Karnaca, the same locale featured in Dishonored 2. Thankfully, my fears that the game would just recycle Dishonored 2′s levels proved to be unfounded. Death of the Outsider does sport one reused area but for the most part you’ll be sneaking, slashing and teleporting your way around a range of new locations.
The game’s standout level has to be “Dolores Michaels’ Bank”, which sees you pulling off a bank heist. It’s an impressive piece of level design, a challenge so elaborate that your ultimate reward feels thoroughly deserved and is easily on a par with Dishonored 2′s Clockwork Mansion level. And, as is the case with all of Death of the Outsider’s missions and sub-missions, there are multiple ways to tackle each objective.
Need to get into a locked room? You could pause time and, in spirit form, squeeze through a small passageway and leave a teleportation marker. Then, when time returns to normal, you’d then teleport through a grill and you’re inside. Or maybe you’d prefer to hurl a hook mine at the ceiling and when a guard wonders why his comrade is dangling from the rafters, leap down, knock him out and take his key. Rarely will the game shut you down for being innovative. Instead, you’ll find yourself grinning like a maniac when your unconventional approach pays off.
Death of the Outsider’s overall level design is also noticeably tighter than its predecessor’s, a welcome change that dispenses with the tedious wandering that plagued its predecessor. In Dishonored 2, you’d frequently have to roam through the city streets in order to get to your next objective. Death of the Outsider’s city areas are not only more thoughtfully laid out but they serve as more than mere filler. You can choose to undertake a range of side-contracts, tasks which range from picking a character’s pocket all the way through to murdering a mime.
The myriad of methods you can employ to dispatch your targets will ensure that, even when you’ve reached the conclusion of your deity-dispatching crusade, you’ll keep stepping back into Billie’s bloodstained shoes.
Your character’s abilities have also been streamlined, Billie starting the game with a mere three abilities. As cool as Dishonored 2’s powers were to use, chances are you’ll get more entertainment value out of Billie’s skills. Key amongst these is the way that she can, Hitman style, temporarily adopt the appearance of any NPC. Death of the Outsider is consistently atmospheric, but when you’re standing in the open wondering just how far you can get before the illusion fades, the tension factor goes right through the roof.
Another welcome tweak is that Billie’s powers recharge without the need to hunt around for energy vials. The ability to use your powers more frequently, as well as focus on your smaller skillset, gives the game’s pace a kick in the pants (though subsequent playthroughs also give you the option to use powers from previous games.)
In essence, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a slimmed-down, souped-up version of Dishonored 2. It’s not a good jumping-on point if you’re a newcomer to the series; if you haven’t played the previous games, the idea of assassinating the Outsider won’t really click. Nor will Billie’s relationship with Daud, her now ageing mentor, mean a great deal to you.
If, however, you live, breathe and sleep Dishonored, with your limited edition Corvo mask on your bedside table, you’ll be in your element here. There are times when Death of the Outsider feels a little too familiar but, despite the game’s reuse of art assets, these moments are far and few between. An engrossing, well-paced send-off for a series that already tops the stealth genre, Dishonored doesn’t get any better than Death of the Outsider.