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Dishonored: Death of the Outsider Review - A symphony of death and destruction

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The Dishonored franchise has been one of my personal favourites since the original game released nearly five years ago. The freedom giving to players, the brilliant level design and, of course, the brutal, difficult gameplay coupled with a world drenched in intriguing lore has always stood head and shoulders above any other assassination-themed game for me.

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda, has a lot to live up to. This standalone Dishonored experience is, of course, not as big as Dishonored 2, but every single piece of it is filled to the brim with that Dishonored quality, gory gameplay and heaps personality.  

Off with his head!

The Outsider has been present from the original game all the way up to the end of Dishonored 2. He is, for all intents and purposes, a god-like figure. If you played the previous titles in the franchise, you would get that sense that he is the reason for many of the most dishonourable moments that transpired in Karnaca.

Now, it’s time for players to finally put an end to the Outsider, and there is no better person for the job than Billie Lurk, also known as Megan Foster (you might remember her from the Knife of Dunwall DLC as well as her role as the boat captain in Dishonored 2) and Daud, the legendary assassin.

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The story is told via gorgeous imagery between main missions (of which there are five), through clues in the environment and exceptional voice action as Billie and Daud plan to finally put an end to the Outsider. As the story progressed and I was sucked deeper into the game’s lore, exploring every corner of each level, reading about the world’s lore in various documents I found and savouring every moment.

Choice has always been a big aspect of the Dishonored franchise and Death of the Outsider is no different. The game provided me with so many choices in the form of how to approach combat, how to enter and exit buildings or other environments, and even how the story ends. Without giving away the ending(s), you should know that the ending is an extremely satisfying experience, but as is commonplace in the world of Dishonored, there is always some kind of price to pay, no matter what you choose to do.

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The freedom of choice doesn’t just stop at the main missions, but also in the various side quests (contracts), which you have the freedom to approach in multiple ways, or completely ignore if you feel the need to.

From being asked to by an old woman to burn her lost dog, to taking out a mime and making it look like an accident, the way to proceed is always up to the player. Further, small pieces of information in the environment can be vital to your success.

There was one instance where I had to open a safe, but instead of a combination, it opened when I inserted the correct tune into the audiograph. These little details aren’t only in the main mission, but in the side quests as well, which makes every move you make, every new environment, feel like a unique playground.

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It took me roughly nine hours to complete the game’s story and multiple contracts, but I definitely didn’t do it all. For those who want to rush through the story missions, I suspect the game will take you about six to seven hours, which is absolutely fine if you take into account the game’s low price.

However, if you try to do every mission, inspect everything and read all the brilliant (and sometimes disturbing) pieces of lore, the game could take you up to 15 hours to complete.

Then, there is also a New Game Plus mode to sink your teeth into, as well as four different difficulty levels and the ability to set your own custom difficulty. It all comes down to the way you play the game, but there is quite a lot to do if you stop and smell the corpses of your enemies.

Honourable changes to the formula

The Chaos and Order system was both an awesome feature and something that felt a bit restrictive in the original Dishonored and Dishonored 2. That’s completely gone now in Death of the Outsider and, in my opinion, is an exceptionally good thing for this bite-sized Dishonored experience. In Death of the Outsider, you can basically do what you want.

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You can still take a stealthy approach, or you can go in swords swinging and take out just about anyone that stands in your way without repercussions. With that being said, the newspaper articles you find throughout Karnaca still show your exploits, but the removal of the Chaos and Order system allows for even more freedom in my opinion.

You still get a post-mission briefing and you can challenge yourself to complete a mission without killing anyone, but the world around you does not change like it did in Dishonored 2, which means you don’t have to worry about your actions. Even so, I still found myself not wanting to kill civilians during the missions but instead pickpocketed them for some coin.

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It is obviously also the first time that you won’t be playing with Corvo, Billie’s Abilities, with my personal favourite being one where you take a person’s face to avoid detection, works beautifully. Further, you can collect Bonecharms and equipt five of them to your liking, providing added depth in customizing your playstyle.

One of my personal favourites is the misfire Bonecharm, which can cause an enemy’s pistol to misfire, resulting in some comical instances and sometimes even random life-saving sprees of luck.

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Although not as awesome as Corvo’s abilities, I still thoroughly enjoyed using Billie’s abilities and movement combined with the use of traps and the like. Billie’s Semblance ability works much the same as possession, where you can take someone’s face and walk in their shoes, but Clockwork soldiers and guard dogs see through the disguise.

The displacement ability not only lets you reach out of the way areas, but also lets you displace onto a target, blowing them into pieces, but it comes at the cost of you taking damage as well.  

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You simply have so much freedom to kill (or stealth past) your enemies and every little contract has a massive amount of personality, choice and fits in perfectly with the dark world of the Dishonored franchise.

The Outsider is in the details

First off, the game runs wonderfully well on the PS4 Pro and the VOID Engine renders the beautiful and deadly environments without breaking spilling one drop of FPS blood. The frame-rate felt smooth as I slew countless enemies.

The only small issue I had was some texture pop-ins on the PS4 Pro and a couple of instances of bodies not behaving as they should. Apart from that, the graphics and sound are, without a doubt, of the utmost quality, but there are many more intricate details that left me in awe.

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One of my favourite things to do was listen to the rats speak. Yes, you can listen to the whispers of rats, which gives clues about your mission or the general area in which they reside. These rodents, for all intents and purposes, sound downright creepy, but if you listen closely, you might find some hidden pieces of lore or even items.

Speaking of which, there is a plethora of items and pieces of lore to search every corner of a level for. Some are out in the open, for example, paintings that you can collect, while others are hidden in some very smart ways.

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At one point, I found when opening a vice in a workshop filled with Whale Bones (used to create Bonecharms, but nearly worthless on their own). When I opened the vice, the Bonecharm dropped to the floor, but there wasn’t any indication, like a glowing light we see in so many games. Instead, I almost missed it on the floor. That is, in my opinion, an excellent system that rewards players for paying attention to every minuscule detail in the environment, of which there is a tonne.  

The Verdict

Billy Lurk’s mission to put the Outsider down once and for all is one of the best Dishonored experiences I have ever had, and that’s coming from a massive fan of the franchise. It took me around nine hours to complete the game, but not once did it feel like a bite-sized experience. Death of the Outsider closes out the story in a satisfying manner and everything leading up to and including the ending (s) felt incredible. The level of freedom and the exquisite toybox filled with tools tailor-made for assassination leaves nothing to be desired.    

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Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a magnificent, brutal and unrelenting experience from start to finish, which so many intricate details to explore and missions filled with deep lore. For any Dishonored fan, it is a must play, and the best thing about the game is that it won’t cost you an arm or a leg, but still deliver an experience that, dare I say, is worth the full price of a AAA title. The only negative thing that I could possibly say about the game is that I want more, as it has stirred a hunger in me for more of that Arkane Studio brilliance.  

Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Played On: PS4 Pro Release Date: 15 September 2017 | RRP: R399  

This review was based off a promotional code provided to us by Ster Kinekor.

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"there is quite a lot to do if you stop and smell the corpses of your enemies"

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