Smaller and more focused, Death of the Outsider is Dishonored for people who don’t have the time. That’s not to say that it’s light on stealthy challenge - it’s stealth heavy levels are just as satisfying to perfect, or sometimes just survive - but where you could spend an entire evening trying to learn and 100% a single street in the main games, here you can tackle an entire level in a similar amount of time.
There are a lot of clever little changes here that almost make this feel more like a side project in the Dishonored universe than a canonical sequel. Although, as that name suggests there’s an element of finality for the series so far. Playing as Billie Lurk, Daud’s second in command from the Knife of Dunwall DLC, the game picks up years later as she tries to track down her former mentor. I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum but, yes, she sets out to kill the Outsider, Dishonored’s ASMR voiced interfering god, for all the misery he’s caused.
That tight design also extends to the powers. Where before you had a wide palette of options to try, tweak and upgrade, here you have three that barely change over the course of the game. If that sounds light then don’t worry, because because what seems limiting is actually liberating - you have a very specific and solid toolset to use, and the levels play to their strengths beautifully. Plus, the reduced options draw out far more creativity and lightbulb moments.
The star combo are Displace and Foresight. The first one lets you place a marker you can then jump to. It’s very similar to the teleport-like Blink, but distinguishes itself by letting you jump to the new location whenever you feel like it. So while you can hop about in an instant you can also place it, walk away and, as long as there’s line of sight, jump back whenever you feel like it. It’s a great ability used tactically: worried about being seen, or a fight you might lose? Drop a marker, do what you need to do and trigger Displace if things go south.
Where things get really interesting are when you team it up with Foresight. That’s basically astral projection, letting you roam a frozen level scoping highlighted object of importance and marking guards. Tagged enemies then appear through walls and reveal the path they’re going to walk. On it’s own it’s useful, but most importantly, it also lets you drop a Displace marker somewhere you couldn’t otherwise reach. It’s a powerful combination.
Then there’s Semblance, an ability to steal faces, effectively giving you a disguise. It’s a more standalone feature but useful for bypassing checkpoints in a pinch. Three powers that give Billie a unique feel, leaner in options but no less capable. And, while there’s no leveling up in the tradition sense, there are bone charms that can boost or tweak abilities, giving a small sense of progression, and another little extra job to tick off if you want to find them.
You cut to the ‘doing what Dishonored does well’ bit much, much quicker
There are few new gadgets as well. Billie’s signature gun fires non-lethal electrical bursts, as well as bullets. It’s also ‘muffled’ but not silenced, meaning you need to use it carefully. Then there’s a hyperbaric grenade that’ll knock people out, and a ‘hook mine’ which lassos people to the surface it’s attached to. That’s both stupidly fun to use, and a handy lure to draw guards to a certain location.
The more direct levels and power set really feels like this has been designed as a Dishonored quick fix - all the fun of the originals in half the time. And it does so in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling short changed. You can still take your time to explore, find approaches, try different ideas but it’s all pulled in more tightly. Little things like the fact that void energy (powering your magic) just charges over time, or the lack of moral repercussions (aside from stats and personal preference) mean you cut to the ‘doing what Dishonored does well’ bit much, much quicker.
If there are any faults it’s that a few bits of trimming feel a little too blunt. A major and necessary story beat is both clumsily and illogically executed, and never really explained. The ability to listen to rats, which replaces the secret-revealing Heart, is cute but adds little of use. They very occasionally reveal the odd clue but in weird sing song way that means dipping into the menu to find out what it actually means. The final level also feels like it takes the reductive concentration that makes most of the game so much fun a little too far. It drops in a new and difficult to deal with enemy into an environment that should be really interesting but ends up sparse with options. All too easily the climax degenerates into a mad sprint to an objective marker.
Overall though, it’s both a rewarding journey, and a definitive punctuation mark for the universe to date. It’s exactly what you want from a Dishonored game, but with a minimalist approach that makes it more immediately accessible. With some memorable moments and an interesting lead character, it’s a worthy end to the story (so far).