Sunday, March 9, 2014

VtM: Redemption's Teuton Trampling

So, about that one ridiculously overpowered way to play through VtM: Redemption. Let's look at the man behind the curtain. Let's spoilerize.

I call Christof a "prince Charming" for more ample reason than his chase after Anezka. Building up his Presence, turning him into a charismatic leader-type, not only lets you get infinite cash upon or even before reaching the modern age by reselling items to NPCs for higher than their original cost, but lets you get a steady supply of blood early on by charming enemies into walking helplessly into your fangs. This also trivializes most fights by separating groups of hostile NPCs.

So, much of the game devolves into a dull but completely safe routine. Mind-control from a safe distance, bleed your target to death, move a few steps forward, repeat. Though you need a bit of fighting ability for when you find yourself isolated and for boss fights, you'll also usually have a henchman or two you can build for brute strength. You always have to keep your blood bank in mind. Most fights resolve to a bottom-line calculation of blood expenditure, and the way to spend absolutely no blood is by charming and feeding constantly. It's slow going.

However, some game areas were set up in direct opposition to this. The Tower of London is one, but the perfect example is the Teutonic Knight Base. On your way out, there's almost nothing to feed upon, as the tin-plated teutons all have neck-guards. They hit like trucks and every fight is close-quarters, making engaging them normally risky. Moreover, their armor makes clubs and swords impractical... but luckily, even if prince charming only has a sword-and-board, you can still build up old Wilhelm's Protean aggravated-damage-dealing claws to bypass that armor bonus. More effective and less risky than unbuffed group melee, more efficient than Serena's nuking, it's all about bum-rushing room after room of knights before they can surround you. You have a chance to take one character from fight to fight, buffed up to his eyeballs with fortitude, potence, celerity and claws and tear through a horde of lumbering enemies one by one before they react while martial instrumentation drums you ever-forth to glory!
So after all the role-playing vacillation about salvation and guilt and redemption, after all the calculated blood-bank nickel-and-diming, here for once there's nothing to do but hack and slash.

But focus on the first part of that last sentence, not just the second. The hack'n'slash is hardly brilliant in itself. It was the contrast against regular, charm-heavy gameplay which made the Teutonic Knight Base memorable. The novelty of this one area encouraging aggressive gameplay depended entirely on the careful blood-pool economics of the rest of your Dark Ages quests.

The catharsis of pure, rabid hack'n'slash can add a great deal to a game experience... if used sparingly and alongside more complex tasks.

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