Press Start: 'Death of the Outsider' is streamlined 'Dishonored' fun
"Dishonored: Death of the Outsider" might not carry the weight of a numerical entry in the "Dishonored" series, but it's nearly as deep and just as fun as previous games in the franchise.
"Death of the Outsider" takes place after the events of "Dishonored 2," and it allows you to play as the mysterious Billie Lurk, one of the most fascinating characters from the previous game. As the title implies, her goal is to kill the Outsider, the cryptic, god-like being that grants characters in all three games their supernatural abilities. Without spoiling anything, the game's conclusion could have huge implications on the series' future.
Whereas previous games feature several powers introduced over time, "Death of the Outsider" gives you only three abilities, all of which are granted simultaneously. It doesn't seem like much of an arsenal, but all three powers are incredibly useful and fun to use.
Lurk's Displace power allows her to set up a target and then teleport to it at will. It's a bit slower than Corvo's famous Blink ability that allows him to teleport instantly, but Displace has its uses.
I especially loved using Displace in tandem with Foresight, which allows Lurk to freeze time and essentially leave her body to explore the area and mark enemies and important objects. While time is frozen, she can also set up markers to which she can teleport once she returns to her body, making it possible to reach locked areas and open new avenues of gameplay.
Finally there's Semblance, which allows Lurk to temporarily steal a target's identity. Take the face of an important character and you can run into some unique and interesting scenarios or, at the very least, waltz right into heavily guarded areas.
Having only three powers streamlines the gameplay, but by making the trio of abilities useful, especially together, I never felt shorted. It helps that Lurk can use her powers without limit and only has to wait a short time between uses for her abilities to recharge.
Just like the previous games, you can complete missions in a variety of ways. Whether you want to be sneaky and not hurt anyone or just charge in and kill every person you come across, the game is a virtual playground on which you are in control.
"Death of the Outsider" doesn't feature a chaos mechanic. Whether you complete missions violently or peacefully, the story doesn't change as it did in previous games. This seems like a missed opportunity, but I found it freeing. I didn't have to worry about consequences and could instead play each mission the way I wanted to. In the end, I felt like an assassin adopting to situations on the fly instead of a psychotic killer or pacifist trying to orchestrate my gameplay to see a specific ending.
I beat the game without being spotted once, but that wouldn't have been possible without the game's handy quick-save and quick-load system. Each time I was caught, I'd simply pause the game and quick-load my last save. It's a useful feature when you want to experiment with different play styles and see the consequences of certain actions. I only wish my save states reset faster; the name "quick-load" might be a bit misleading.
The game features only five missions, but that's more than enough. I spent almost 10 hours in "Death of the Outsider," and I left a lot unexplored. Those looking for extra challenges and rewards to boot can undertake various black market contracts that add a bit more depth and variety to the gameplay.
"Death of the Outsider" also has plenty of replay value. Not only can you play the game multiple ways, but after beating it once, you can go through it with powers from "Dishonored 2" to shake up your play style. It's a welcome way to make an already flexible gaming experience even more fun.
Even as a spinoff and not a full-fledged sequel, "Dishonored: Death of the Outsider" is a solid addition to the "Dishonored" franchise. The game features fewer powers and missions, but the streamlined experience feels almost as deep as the two main games and every bit as fun.
Final score: 8.5/10
"Dishonored: Death of the Outsider" was reviewed on the Xbox One with a digital copy provided by the publisher's PR agency, fortyseven communications.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing email@example.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.