A being of mystery, a being of power. The Outsider is a god, a neutral observer who imparts magic on people at a whim, never asking for anything in return except to be entertained. He lies at the heart of the Void, and in this dark, industrial world, many pray to him for help, pleas falling on uncaring ears. And you are going to kill him.
Seeing as Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a stand-alone expansion and some people might be hopping into Dishonored here, I will try to shy away from the bigger reveals and information you glean in those games.
Heading back to Karnaca
A chance to go back to Karnaca, to see where Emily (or Corvo) retreated to learn about and arm themselves against a new threat, is just too juicy to pass up. The writers of this expansion know this and have built upon the lore and events of the series with expert pen strokes. One level in particular is revisited, the chaos of your previous passing resulting in the Abbey performing an investigation and cleansing heretical teachings and witchcraft from the building. Sections have been cordoned off, meaning you can’t travel around the place in the exact same way as you did before, and large floodlights have been wheeled in, making what was previously a place with many dark hiding spots a well-lit military outpost.
Dishonored has always been a game about puzzles. The first layer of the puzzle is the level itself, with its hidden stashes and clues, the safe ways into buildings or the location of a key or another way to circumvent a lock. The second layer of puzzle is the AI, which will try to end your life quickly and brutally. Then you get the puzzle created by your own style of play. What weapons and powers to use? Are you a ghost, never seen or leaving a trail? Are you merciful, knocking people unconscious or using theft to get what you want? Or are you death, walking silently and taking anyone in your way. All of these elements come together to form a puzzle box that you will spend hours tinkering with and trying to take apart.
Shorter but stronger
Death of the Outsider cuts to the chase. Billie Lurk is focused and a veteran, she knows what she wants and works out how to get it. As a result the game is shorter, but it replaces long sections of busywork with focused set-pieces for explosive action. My Billie Lurk has no qualms about killing people and without the game forcing a high or low chaos situation on my actions, my Billie embraced her bloodthirsty past and cut a swathe through Karnaca, with only one goal in mind: killing the Outsider.
The Outsider is an enigma, a powerful being that we have gleaned knowledge of over two games and the events that unfold and the few reports found in the masterfully written snippets of lore you can find hidden all over the place. He is a god, the being in control of who gets magic in the universe of Dishonored. He is also playful and prone to granting powers to those who might entertain him for a while. Did I mention he also lives inside the void, a place where most people only glimpse in a dream? It seems Billie has her work cut out for her.
You can also displace right into someone, turning them into a pile of limbs and gore as you explode out of where they are.
Billie has a smaller power subset than Corvo Attano or Emily Kaldwin, but she makes up for this by being able to use her powers as often as she feels like it. She draws energy from the void, recharging her powers without needing to rely on Addermire’s Solution to keep going. Besides her sword and a wrist-mounted firearm, Billie can astral project with Foresight, stopping time and looking around the area. This is used to mark enemies or find hidden treasures and security panels, and to plan where to use your displace power. Billie can teleport short distances as long as she has line of sight with her displacement marker. This is useful for getting up higher, going past watched areas or a hasty retreat when you are spotted. You can also displace right into someone, turning them into a pile of limbs and gore as you explode out of where they are. It hurts you a bit, but nowhere near as much as it hurts the poor person you just turned into a meat shower. Displace can’t drop a marker through a window or a gate, so that is where placing a marker with Foresight comes in, especially if you find a tiny gap to get into an otherwise locked up room.
If you feel like a more Hitman-styled approach, Semblance is a great new power for solving puzzles. You take the appearance of someone, knocking them unconscious. You can then walk around the world, looking and sounding like them. Will you impersonate a guard to get past a checkpoint? Become a citizen to hide from a patrol? The options are only limited to how much void energy you have and how creative you are. As long as you aren’t seen, you can knock people out or kill them while walking around in your new guise.
Her best power though is the one not used for killing. Billie can hear the whispers of rats, listening to their thoughts and secrets. The rats have keen senses and while they can be cryptic, they offer up some amazing clues about what is going on. From people trapped in buildings crying for help, to mention weak spots into a black market store so that you can help yourself to the contents without paying, the rats know things. They know about the enemies in the area, recent activity and where the food is. They are also amazing to listen to, especially after two games of fearing the rats or weaponising them, it is interesting to see another side.
Her best power though is the one not used for killing. Billie can hear the whispers of rats, listening to their thoughts and secrets.
As I mentioned earlier, Billie’s story here is short and focussed. It took me 10 hours to reach the end, and I tried to find the treasures and complete side missions on my way for extra coin and bonecharms. It is the perfect length though, because what it does in those 10 hours all matter. For one mission you need to infiltrate a high security building. All the prep work for it, from casing the joint to finding the weakness in the security chains, is done for you before the mission starts, so that you can do the interesting parts. Billie is a veteran at this and she is damn good at what she does. So off you go, listening for interesting bits of lore or clues, plotting escape routes and ambushes for your enemies, turning everything in sight into a tool or a weapon. You are left to do the important work, the interesting parts of the mission.
Rich and vibrant
Rosario Dawson breathes life into Billie Lurk and after my issues with the direction of the voice acting of Dishonored 2, I was all too happy to have Dawson’s performance bring nuance, strength and power to Lurk. Lurk is a stern, troubled individual, with a great weight to carry and Dawson brings this to life with her voice acting, showing the stern iron inside Lurk, as well as the compassionate side of her in side quests. There is also the disgust and revulsion at what is around her, the wonder of peering into the void and her anger at the oft sarcastic and always cryptic Outsider.
Dawson’s performance bring nuance, strength and power to Lurk.
Dishonored is rewarding no matter how you play it, from stealthy ghost to assaulting dervish or somewhere in-between the two extremes. There is no right path, no best way to do things. There is no EXP to be missed by doing something one way over the other. Besides for a few upgrades bought with coin and some nice bone charms that add extra effects to your abilities, there is no bonus for exploring everywhere and everything except to discover more lore, more atmosphere and world narrative, and it is more than enough. The world positively drips with environmental storytelling and details, from abandoned homes to the office of a corrupt politician full of occult paraphernalia and small signs of his seedier habits. Every encounter has a little bit of lore just before and after it, wedging combat or stealth puzzles between exposition and errata. From newspaper clippings to letters and journals, there is so much to be learned in a world where you often don’t speak to anyone else. In fact, they will probably never even see you coming.