Having never played any of the Dishonored series before Death of the Outsider, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. Stealth games have never been my forte, and Death of the Outsider reminded me why that is. In the first Metal Gear Solid, I couldn’t sneak my way out of a cardboard box. Or as one. Or as a box in a top secret military base (Really Metal Gear? Really?). For what it’s worth, I had a hard time evading guards in Final Fantasy VII and all you had to do was follow directly behind them. But by the end of the relatively short Death of the Outsider, I could teleport and set traps with the best of them. It only took me a dozen hours and hundreds of deaths to beat those lessons into my rather direct confrontational mindset. The game molded me into something better than what I had been. I became Billie Lurk. I was an assassin pirate bad-ass. It was violent and it was a damned good time.
Tales from Inside a Bartender
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider has a story that is intriguing and straightforward. As an outisder of the series (see what I did there?), I quickly became immersed in a world that I had no idea what was going on. Absolutely zero. But much like any good story teller, Death of the Outsider never relented on delivery of key details that informed even the likes of me. Karnaca is a disturbing place, and Dishonored is a disturbing world. Even the rats think so. I’d know because the game let me talk to them. The city is beautiful to traverse and every nook and room is full of character and atmosphere, as creepy as that atmosphere may be. From clockwork guards to creepy blood cultists, every inch of the game seethes the distinct Dishonored character.
Bilie Lurk’s motivation seems one dimensional and single minded. Her drive didn’t make sense to me especially in a story whose end-goal is rather ambitious even for as small as it was. The scope of the story is rather narrow and uncomplicated with few characters, all of whom are excellently voiced and interesting. Each mission is full of additional content that can be found as notes or balled up papers in the trash or even by eavesdropping on conversations after having stole some poor bystander’s face. These tidbits offer additional objectives that expand on what can be pretty short missions, and if you’re feeling adventurous, these extras reveal more about the people who you’re probably about to murder.
There are contracts to complete in each mission. These are side objectives that encourage other ways to play beyond assassinating people even though most contracts devolved into me assassinating people. One contract asked me to knockout the bartender in a cultist club, drag his limp body to the roof, and place it in a box. I was going to lure him away from the clientele and knock him out. To do this, I used the ample supply of rat beer chunked at his head to do so. Or was it rat wine? Noir de rat. It was a bottle of liquor with, I shit you not, a rat in it. So I throw a few bottle as his head because who doesn’t want to be covered in rat beer until he decided to find me. Long story short, I teleported inside the poor bastard instead of behind him. The ensuing explosion covered me in not only the bartender but also rat beer. I failed the contract, called it a win, and went on with my day.
These contracts expand the already short game. They are fun, if not unimportant, and can lead to some...interesting encounters like the bartender.
The name of the game in Death of the Outsider is teleporting. Even the scouting ability does little more than set up more opportune teleports. Billie Lurk’s pool of skills is already fairly low, and while teleporting is an awful lot of fun, it becomes the only ability of note in Billie’s arsenal. Stealing people’s faces is necessary and comes with an animation straight from a horror movie. This disguise helps evade confrontations with large groups of guards. Billie also has a slew of combat items. Darts that kill people. Darts that knock people out so you can kill them and a lot of items that explode or otherwise help create a cacophony of death. These items are fun to use, but once you master the art of teleporting, you’ve learned all you really need to defeat most enemies.
Death of the Outsider also has the option to not kill anyone at all in any mission. That’s not to say that the option is any less violent. Well, I take that back. I guess you could consider not cutting someone in half and instead nearly choking them to death less violent. But really, if you can teleport inside of a person and obliterate them, all other options seem less than effective. The game is challenging enough, but there are extra rewards for those who want to torture--I mean enjoy--themselves by playing the pacifist.
Karnaca is a city that, at times, feels mechanical much like it’s clockwork guards. Citizens are not always alive even when you don’t kill them. Many stand in place and remain there, unmoving unless terrified by your gruesome murdering. Guards are always on the prowl but become statuesque if you evade their chase. They will remain where they lost track of you and never return to their post. Issues like this makes the AI of the game feel dated.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a great ride. It demands that you play smart and stealthily. It has rewarding gameplay mechanics, especially the teleport, and a small arsenal for those of us with devious murder minds. I can’t say I completely understand the implication behind the story and how it unfolds within the Dishonored universe, but Billie Lurk is a character I found fun to explore and interact as. Overall, Death of the Outsider is well worth its asking price, short as it may be. It’s a fun assassin game that sticks to game mechanics that make you feel like an actual assassin.
- Fun rewarding gameplay
- Interesting story and characters
- Immersive steampunk atmosphere
- Noir de Rat
- Poor citizen AI makes world seem less alive
- Non-Dishonored fans might feel lost story-wise