As a standalone DLC that picks up where Dishonored 2 left off, Death of the Outsider involves a lot of sneaking around and pawning old spools of copper wire for spare money. In the very first mission, it also asks you to cremate a dog.
The islands of Dunwall and Karnaca are rife with seedy underworlds and unseemly oligarchs, as well as the people trapped in-between. But in addition, they have strange creatures ranging from diseased rats and magical whales to killer, blood-sucking flies. The ones you encounter most, however, are wolfhounds, canines trained to act as sentinels for their owners who will tear you to shreds if you’re not careful while sneaking around.
“There is a children’s rhyme: Do not weep or make a sound, for that will bring the ‘seer’s hound,” says the heart you carry around in the first Dishonored at one point. In Death of the Outsider, you’re tasked with setting one on fire. It’s part of the game’s very first mission and it gets at what has made the series such an understated success.
Playing as Billie Lurker who’s looking to rescue her mentor from a weird cult, the first mission in Death of the Outsider had you tip-toe through a decrepit bath house in search of a way to set him free. The game has side-missions as well, however, one of which includes setting a person’s snow white wolfhound free. Lost by its owner and found by one-eyed gangsters, the owner asks via a Karnaca wanted ad that someone go and put it out of its misery for a small sum.
During the mission than, I stumbled upon the albino unexpectedly while hiding from some mobsters who were upset about their comrade I’d just knifed. I like stealth games, especially when I’m really bad at them, so one of the things about the Dishonored games that have always pulled me in is the way you can try a particular strategy, mess up, and then unleash chaos before trying to run and hide somewhere and reset the entire situation. If anything, Death of the Outsider is even better at this than Dishonored 2 by virtue of its low-key, residential playgrounds.
So after fleeing a mob of dark magic worshiping AI I found myself face-to-face with the frosty-furred dog from Craigslist, Karnaca. I slammed the button to unlock the cage it was in and then went to work slicing up it and its roommates. It’s never clear exactly why the white wolfhound is there—was it being used for a ritual, dog fighting, or simply as another form of protection? Whatever the reason, I killed it and waited for the contract check mark to flicker on my screen. Since it was white, the dark blood that pooled beneath its amalgamation of polygons and textures was that much harder to miss.
But you have to burn its body. A small detail I’d forgotten. I didn’t have any incendiary arrows or grenades though and sat perplexed. Until I realized I was sitting directly across from a furnace. Could I open the furnace? Of course, because this was a Dishonored game. I could grab the the white wolfhound and drop it’s limp body on the other side of the cast iron grill as well. I punched a switch nearby and the dog lit up.
Nobody else in the bath house came running, because again, this is Dishonored, and while stealth is the name of the game, the designers at Arkane know the value of keeping your enemies close while letting you feel like they’re still a million miles a way. It’s easier to have quiet, intimate moments this way, like cremating a stolen pet.
Games like Dishonored 2 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided like to constantly remind you that you’re in a pseudo-realistic world, despite the weird magic and cyborg tech, by letting you flush toilets and turn on the hot water at a sink. In Death of the Outsider though, you can also turn open a furnace, stick something in side, and get paid for transforming the contents into ash, all without the game ever forcing your hand and demanding you do so. I don’t even remember how much money the contract paid, or what upgrades I spent it on (probably plus two bone charm slots). What I do remember is sitting huddled in a hallway next to an enemy type I’d seen a hundred times before wondering desperately what to do with the body.