Stepping into the leather boots of Billie Lurk is like slipping on your favourite pair of slippers.
It’s comfy and it feels just as good as the last time; the last time being Dishonored 2.
Not that we got to play as Lurk, but you get the idea.
Clumsy metaphors aside, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is yet another example of the continuing excellent work of Arkane Studios.
Doing away with some elements found in both prequels, Death of the Outsider is a streamlined, lean affair. It suits the game both thematically and functionally.
I’ve never felt as lethal or free in the previous Dishonored titles as I did in Death of the Outsider. This freedom is its beating heart.
Lurking in the shadows
Lurk, unlike Emily and Corvo, isn’t out to clear her name. She’s not on some desperate quest to save the world or anyone in it. Death of the Outsider is a classic revenge tale and Lurk only has one thing on her mind; killing the Outsider.
With moral implications pushed to one side, both narratively and functionally, Death of the Outsider feels more open to the player. Lurk is a wanted criminal so you’ll still need to remain unseen or murder everyone as you go, but the consequences of these actions are limited.
It suits Lurk’s character and her arc that petty morality not get in the way of her mission. Murdering the Outsider has been thrust upon her by her mentor and star of “Knife of Dunwall”, Daud. When Lurk was a child living on the streets of Dunwall, Daud took her under his wing and taught her how to survive and how to kill.
Now fully grown, Lurk seeks Daud to atone for her mistakes. She finds him captured by the Eyeless Cult and forced to fight in an underground and illegal fight club.
Once rescued, Daud tells Lurk about the ancient two-bladed knife that not only created the Outsider but also has the power to kill him. Lurk promises to finish what Daud has started and free him from an eternity trapped in the void.
With her motivations in place, Lurk sets out to infiltrate the Eyeless cult, steal the knife and kill the Outsider. Much of Lurk’s internal dialogue focuses on the impact of killing a god. She also muses on the Outsider. He appears to her several times throughout the story; first to replace an eye and arm with void artefacts and later to ask her what she will do after he’s dead.
Death of the Outsider is a far more philosophical piece than it may seem at first glance. It deals with heavy themes such as perceived destiny, the relationships between children and parents and the death of God. These are all given equal weight and time throughout the narrative, but largely seen through Lurk’s eyes. We hear her voice, we hear her thoughts and we come to understand how she feels and why.
The denouement of each of the themes, no matter which ending you choose, is satisfying and earned. Either way you choose to end the story feels organic and brimming with future potential.
Religion is bad
However you choose to interpret Death of the Outsider, one thing is for sure; Arkane thinks religion is very bad. The enemies are either the fanatical Eyeless cult who worship the Outsider or the Abbey of the Everyman and Sisters of the Oracular Order who teach that the Outsider is the devil.
Both factions are corrupted by their adherence to the strictures of their teachings and neither is capable or worthy of sympathy or empathy. Something that makes them perfect fodder for Lurk. As you’d expect, killing or stunning enemies in Death of the Outsider is as satisfying as ever.
Lurk, although not bearing the Mark of the Outsider, has void powers thanks to her arm and eye. She can Displace (i.e Blink), impersonate a living person, use Foresight to freeze time and scout ahead or listen to whispers of rats for clues.
Lurk is far less equipped than any previous protagonist, but it doesn’t make her any less capable. Arkane’s level design has improved too, such that getting around Karnaca, taking out enemies, fatally or otherwise and exploring has never been so easy or satisfying.
About as good as it gets
Without any form of morality or chaos, Death of the Outsider instead features Contracts. These are missions you can acquire from Black Markets that require Lurk to carry out specific actions. There are some assassinations, some thefts and some other more interesting Contracts. Each add length to the title and flesh out the universe, but not hugely.
It would have been nice to see some consequence from the Contracts rather than just earn more coin.
It’s not perfect, but a standalone expansion, Death of the Outsider is about as good as it gets. I wish it was a bit longer and I wish the Contracts had added more to the overall package, but overall it’s a great game.
Fans of Dishonored should pick this up as it wraps up the Kaldwin saga, but mostly because it’s yet another refinement of an already excellent game.
Dishonroed: Death of the Outsider was reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided to PowerUp! by Bethesda.
Game Title: Dishonored: Death of the Outsider