Words About Video Games

41 Games: Dishonored - Death of the Outsider

Dishonored 2 was my 2017 game of the year (for games that came out in 2017.) While it wasn't fully able to deliver on its themes, its aims were ambitious. It has the best-designed levels in any game I've ever played. And playing non-lethal was genuinely fun--even when you got spotted.

So I was probably always going to be a little disappointed by Death of the Outsider. Its themes are no less ambitious, and arguably Billie Lurk is a more compelling protagonist than either Corvo or Emily. But in many ways it marks a return to the original Dishonored: Billie is a killer and her skillset lends itself best to killing rather than the non-lethal route.

The structure of the game reflects this: gone is the chaos system that measured the world's reaction to your violence in previous games. Billie doesn't care about such things, and neither, the game seems to say, should you. In fact, there are entire side objectives that are impossible to complete without killing.

Many people saw the chaos system as needlessly punitive and will rejoice to know this. But for me, this idea that the choice to enter the world with a knife drawn--judging the hearts of others, acting as their bloody executioner--is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that makes the world a darker, bloodier, more cynical place is core to the series. Without it, it's just another murder simulator.