FBT makes one last attempt to be honourable in Dishonored
Billie Lurk, who renounced her past and became Meagan Foster in Dishonored 2, has been searching for her Assassin mentor Daud. Finding him near death, she agrees to one last assassination – the Void’s Outsider himself, who years ago marked Daud and set him on his path as a brutal killer, culminating in Daud and Billie murdering the Empress, which started the whole Dishonored story. It’s time for the Death of the Outsider. Time to finish things.
D2 sometimes reminded me of the Ezio era of Assassin’s Creed and DotO leans into that even more. This time we really are an Assassin; Lurk has wrist-mounted crossbows and feels stealthier than Emily or Corvo. The world is pure D2 though – complex, winding, confusing, perfect for assassinating. Thing is, I’d rather not be assassinating the Outsider.
I never really liked the Outsider and always felt the Void was under-cooked, just a vague excuse to introduce magic to the Dishonored world, so going after him feels like something I'd rather not bother with. The annoying thing is all the hero worshipping for Daud. While D1’s DLC explored his reasons and reactions, when my brutal Corvo finally bested him and Daud offered “I’m tired of killing” as a reason to let him live, I didn’t. Now I’m avenging him? If they ever remaster the Dishonored trilogy they’d better do import saves. Although, based on my High Chaos plays this would be a short game.
Still, I have a hell of a time rushing about doing the missions and generally causing mayhem. Besides the main plot, you can also pick up contracts. Those are generally quick little money-spinners you knock off mid-mission but can be ruined by not being stealthy or being lethal. It’s the only time in the Dishonored trilogy I feel hobbled by mission parameters. Well, forced to behave anyway.
Actually, the game doesn’t much care; there’s no Chaos rating. Lurk is an assassin so she’s already high chaos, but I kinda miss wondering just how utterly chaotic I can make things, and my actions don’t have any tangible impact on the world or how the ending plays out, which is a simple yes/no final choice. The best bit was when I killed absolutely everyone in the place, and an impressed Daud thanked me. Finally, someone appreciates my psychosis.
Given this is a smaller entry in the series, gaining perks and upgrading them is removed - the Outsider gives you powers after the first mission, as well as a trippy hand and a jewel for an eye, and Void powers regenerate on their own instead of needing vials to replenish. No soft start, strong finish, Lurk is fully awesome from Chapter 2. But the powers also feel a little more contrived. Semblance lets you steal someone’s face so you can hide in plain sight and nicking the face of certain NPCs leads to some interesting conversations with fellow NPCs.
Her Displace is strangely hobbled at first, you need to drop a pin where you’d like her to Blink to, but a Bonecharm loosens that up pretty quickly, and pre-planning teleportation does have its advantages. She can also step outside her own body and float about to do recon, but that’s it. It feels less epic than Emily or Corvo’s multiple Void powers, but also a lot more focused. Faced with a situation, you react quicker when you only have limited options. NG+ does unlock some D2 powers though, which is a nice replay touch.
Of all the Dishonored, this is the one that feels built toward a more subtle style of play. We get more traps than ever before, items and perks are hidden behind puzzles rather than guards or beasties, and there’s a lot of chat from Daud, the Outsider and anyone who you’re willing to listen to. I still manage to cause untold carnage and death, but for the first time it feels like I’m ruining the party, instead of this being my party and I’ll kill if I want to.
As I slice and dice my way through a Void worshiping gang called Eyeless, the story starts to come into focus. Shame its mostly told through waffling cut-scenes starring the Outsider. Lurk, who once idolised him, is committed to carrying out Daud’s last request, but the more time we spend with the Outsider, the more we realise he’s a victim too and was trying to control how the Void seeped into reality and corrupts everyone. Lurk has some serious decisions to make once she reaches the Void. Problem is, not sure I much care. But I am having a lot of fun getting there.
At times DotO feels short-changed. A large part of the plot is Lurk planning and executing a raid on a bank, but all of the planning happens off screen – Lurk just describes options, plans, bribes, and people she’s spoken to which we didn’t get to do. We just get three options, and it would have been more fun to do the planning and commit to one. And then I ignored all three and went in like the bank robbery in Heat.
DotO is a worthy successor to the main games, I had a lot of fun but while its intention was to close the Dishonored narrative and tie up loose ends, those weren’t ends I was concerned with. There are references to Emily rebuilding after the events of the previous games, and that’s where I’d rather be – if we going to close the book on this, for my money it should have been one last Corvo/Emily adventure, end her time on the throne one way or the other. Really, this is an extension of the original game’s DLC where Lurk was introduced and Daud got his backstory. It’s more like a DLC sequel than a main series resolution.
There is a solid argument that going into a Dishonored game with swords blazing is a simplistic FPS experience compared to the more cerebral and complex stealth play. Meh. Going in hard is hard, and why would a dethroned Queen or her protector not chose violence? There is no right or wrong way, which is rare in gaming. Although I am wrong to have enjoying this much killing. Of the three games, an Emily playthrough of D2 is the clear winner, but they’re all excellent and together, they’re amazing. It’s only the missing save import that stumbles an otherwise perfect trilogy.
Supposedly, the Dishonored franchise is now on extended ‘hiatus’. Which means developers Arkane won’t touch it again until they’ve had a few flops; I think it’ll be a while before we see Dishonored 4 the Return of Corvo. But the Dishonored series is one of the very few that you can genuinely replay different ways and get a new experience. Perhaps one day I will play Dishonored on non-lethal. Once I’ve had some therapy.