I’m a fan of the Dishonored series, having enjoyed play-throughs of both the previous games in the series. I’ve never been captivated by the narrative, failing to resonate much with the characters or the universe. I am however very much a fan of the gameplay, which is the best yet modern attempt to create a spiritual successor to Looking Glass’ Thief series which holds a very special play in my heart.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a standalone title following on from last years Dishonored 2. Evolution from the recent second game is minimal, mostly orientated around new character abilities and some new items which for the most part feel fresh and open up some new gameplay options. A new narrative follows on from the events of the second game, centring around Billie and her history with Daud. As things unfold, you’ll explore a mixture of old and new locations as you work towards a confrontation with the Outsider, the series’ puppet master whose mark endow you with the special abilities that make the gameplay enjoyable.
Compared to the second, everything is very much the same with no notable improvements. Differences are isolated to mostly cosmetic changes, and short of some new items and new character abilities everything will be familiar to veterans from the first game. Environments continue to be thoughtfully constructed, built to facilitate choice and reward exploration. Objectives can be approached in various ways, be it a straight up fight or something a little more stealthy. For example one of Billy’s new abilities allows her to impersonate another character allowing you to trick other NPCs into divulging critical information which opens up some new gameplay options. It’s your approach to progressing each objective which dictates how much enjoyment you will extract from the experience. Battling your way through is quick and unfulfilling, let down by the same clunky combat mechanics we have seen in the previous games. Stealth however offers up a challenging and more compelling experience, with the design and structure of the game much better suited to this style of play.
The game’s major weakness is it’s length offering up between 4 and 6 hours of gameplay over a total of 5 levels, although 3 of these are rather short in length. It also peaks early, with the standout moment recovering an item from the vault of a bank falling short of its predecessors highpoint, The Clockwork Mansion, which still stands head and shoulders above all else as the best level in the series.
Overall, much like the second I enjoyed taking my time and exploring every inch of the environments. The game comes alive when playing the pacifist, leveraging all your resources to move unseen whilst stealing as many valuables as you can without registering a single kill. It’s a challenging experience, yet offers enough choice that you can be creative in your approach. This sadly is also the recipe that baked both the previous games in the series, and as such Death of the Outsider fails to feel distinct or outright fresh in any meaningful manor. It’s very conservative, where I feel a more adventurous approach focusing on more eccentric design that plays to the mechanics strengths would have made for a better overall experience. As such this is very much just more of the same which might be enough for some people, but for me I was hoping for something a bit more experimental and playful. Short of a couple of the protagonist’s new abilities, Dishonored 2 is the better game and as such this is best suited to those of you who have exhausted all the second has to offer and are looking for something new.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider was provided to us by Xbox/Bethesda via a download code for Xbox One.