‘Dishonored: Death of the Outsider’ is a brilliant experience for the ways it builds on and repurposes elements from past games.
All images courtesy Bethesda
I’ve written about this before, how much I love the Dishonored games, and how I’ve never actually finished one. I put dozens of hours in, typically, playing each stage as a giant playground—meticulously combing through stealthily, then experimenting with all my wacky powers on a whim. I like to find everything, to see everything, to test every level’s design to the very best of my abilities.
But I never finish the damned games, to my eternal shame.
No longer! I finished Death of the Outsider this weekend, this year’s shorter (but still standalone!) entry in the series, which sees protagonist Billie Lurk trawl through some of the territory of Dishonored 2 after the fact. Some stages are all new, while others brilliantly repurpose level assets with new enemies, new powers, new narrative reasons to examine similar spaces. There are sidequest ‘contracts’ to complete in many stages. There is a wider spread of powers. But best of all, the re-use of stages allows the designers to really play with cause and effect and the player’s understanding of a space that was already fascinating to parse.
I genuinely wish more game series did this. Use some of their levels and assets, but after the fact. What changed after the events of a game—who took over the space, and why? Playing through the royal conservatory in Dishonored 2, the stage is filled with rad witches (some of whom like to enjoy tea and talk about life, man, atop chandeliers). In Death of the Outsider, the religious Abbey have taken over, and they are annexing all the magical (“heretical”) objects, and of course, mistreating their witchy prisoners. You can exact justice on them, in many ways.
Robert Yang went into some of Death of the Outsider’s best mechanical twists in his post on immersive sims—like the foresight power, which allows you to better plan for enemy encounters. It also does some very, very cool things narratively, with an ending that plays on the idea of forgiveness, and what it really means to forgive in a genuinely fucked up, upside down world with magical powers that are always paid for, steeply.
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It took everything in my power not to hit the new game+ button after the credits rolled (especially because that mode allows you to play with new powers!), and instead move on to the other brilliant games I need to put more time into for end-of-year consideration.
I’m very, very glad I saw this adventure to the end. Of course, when all is said and done… I’m going to need to go back and finish Dishonored 2.
How about you, dear readers? Is there a series that you love, but hadn’t finished the games? And if you finally did… did you experience this kind of satisfaction, coupled with the desire to jump right back in?