Sometimes it feels good to be back doing something you love. It’s like putting slippers on when the house starts to get cold in winter, or flying a kite, or drinking six pints of beer and having a kebab for the first time in years. That same feeling of familiar pleasure is exactly what I had with the first hour of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. But did that pleasure remain or wither like my childhood dreams?
This stand-alone game is an expansion to the brilliant Dishonored 2. Before I go any further, if you haven’t yet played any of the Dishonored series, then I would say stop what you’re doing and go and play it right now. In the Deluxe pack, you get the main game as well as this expansion for a tidy price and that shouldn’t be ignored.
Anyway this expansion is a sort of epilogue to the Dishonored 2 storyline and concentrates on Billie Lurk; boat captain, part cyborg and brilliant assassin. She heads up to rescue her mentor, Daud, and then they embark on a long mission to kill the elusive Outsider himself. For those who don’t know the Outsider, he is a strange mystical god-like man, who may call the void his home and who can enter your dreams and visions. Seems like they are going off on a pretty easy mission then yes?
Death of the Outsider plays much like the Dishonored we know and love, but there are some subtle changes. All the ways of moving are still the same – running and attacking with your trusty sword, planning full on attacks and actioning stealthy non-lethal put downs. It’s worth noting there are no consequences to your actions, apart from alerting the whole town and you rocking up with a chaos ending, killing everyone possible.
The stealthy way is, for me, always the best and most interesting way to play this game. But that’s the beauty of the Dishonored series; it is completely up to you how you tackle the map, the missions and the random encounters. You will find completely different ways to replay a mission every time you start again. Should you go in with the heavy sword and just kill all the enemies? Or do you prefer to find a trap or some sleep potions before wiping out the people around you and just stealing the item needed? You also have some magical abilities in your arsenal as well – you know, just in case you feel the need to use them.
First up is Displace, which is like the original Blink ability. Here you can place a position and teleport instantly over to that point. It is great for getting to hard to reach places, escaping an encounter or just plainly teleporting to an enemy, assassinating them, and calmly teleporting away. Foresight allows you to send a ghostly scout forward to check the area out for enemies and treasures, letting you mark people, so you can see their direction of sight and their patrol loops through walls and buildings. As you can imagine, this becomes very handy indeed. The last trick up your sleeve is Semblance, which is where you basically steal the face and identity of a guard, worker or civilian and for a short time walk on past your foes with no hassle. These new tricks are great and work brilliantly, even if there isn’t the scale of stuff that was available in the main games.
Death of the Outsider also gives you the usual mix of traps, mines, guns and bonecharms to customise the way you play. The gameplay is what you expect from a game of this standard and from this lineage. It’s fun, highly complex, beautifully intricate and amazingly detailed. I have spent far too long exploring each level in detail, and looking for every nook and cranny. The main missions are obviously the big draw, but there are many side stories to find along the way – a taxidermist with a horrible secret, and a dentist with an empty man-sized blue box. You get the picture.
There’s a great new idea called Contracts too and this gives you detailed instructions of what to do with someone in order to get some coin; kidnap a man, don’t kill him, but make it look like a suicide. This gives the game a much longer longevity than the original five chapters on offer allow, and although I’ve spent around a good number of hours on each chapter, it’s the Contract completion which is my main goal.
As you would expect, the story and writing for Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is exemplary, with incredible detail and a bunch of different narratives on offer. Books and notes show hints of other stories, with a much bigger lore that the whole universe is alluding to. The visuals are stunning, the level design is spectacular, and again the attention to every little detail is amazing – I got stuck looking at an intricately tiled floor for ages, astonished by its light, shading, cracks and ageing.
The character design is also stunning, with more lines and cracks in their facial structures than me after a night out. The places you visit are a beautiful mix of turn of the century architecture with steampunk future design, whilst the audio is top notch as well. It comes with a great soundtrack and superb audio detail – from the buzz of a fly to the musical numbers playing on audio devices – whilst the voice work is of the very highest standard, giving all characters, major and minor, a three dimensional quality that is often absent in gaming.
I have loved my time with Dishonored: Death of the Outsider – an amazing expansion to the Dishonored universe. If you haven’t played any of the franchise before then I would highly recommend you starting from the beginning or at least taking in the second instalment before playing this standalone add-on. Fans of the universe will love the way this huge chunk of content gives you new characters and locations. However, it might feel a bit familiar at times, and it never goes into proper sequel territory. But that’s because it’s not.
I for one would love to see further expansion packs like this, allowing us the chance to explore the very complex, beautiful and imaginative world of Dishonored, again and again and again.