Level: Airship
Level: Blackwall Yard
Level: Embankment
Level: Catacombs

Chapter 14: A Knight of Old

Section  1 |  2 


Kill or Be Killed

Where the previous fights allowed the player to come out on top with just a few well-placed shots, this one presents a few more tactical challenges.

Reinforcement waves, scarce ammo, and limited cover compared to the number of enemies mean that any swagger built up in the player's mind from winning the previous fights gives way to hasty retreats and more cautious play.

However, I make sure that the player always has some say over how much risk he incurs by providing an extra "layer" of backtracking space and exercising precise control over the way the fight's "front line" moves.


Gameplay Video


And a well-placed explosive barrel just behind the first enemy cover can lead to a big finish or be used to gain an early advantage... if the player notices it in time.





 
Decisions

One element that pushes the "Wild West" analogy is the claustrophobic layout.  This flat, two-tunnel layout keeps the enemies more-or-less straight ahead of the player at all times.



This is complicated by the lack of "true" cover.  The player's only defensive option is to seek "soft cover"—solid objects or tunnel walls that the player can position between himself and an enemy for protection.  When designing the level, I varied the availability of openings between the two tunnels (which allow free movement between the left and right) and stretches without gaps (where a player would have to commit to his choice of which side to take).

Also, the last time the player did lantern combat, the enemies were still able to take cover.  This allowed the player quick moments of rest during the gunplay—an enemy will shoot, then hide, and while he's hiding the player is free to line up a kill shot.  Giving all the enemies in this sequence lanterns removes that "safety" window and forces kill-or-be-killed scenarios (mitigated a bit by the enemies having another target—Lakshmi—to shoot at).


Second Tunnel Area Flythrough



Analysis

This last area is intended to make the player feel a bit desperate (reflecting Galahad's desperate circumstances), but not drag on so long that the limitations of lantern combat become uninteresting.  Some players may also find those limitations more challenging or frustrating than others.  There's a delicate balance to getting this level right, but I think we got it pretty close.




Between This Level and the Next

Galahad and Lakshmi escape and reach Whitechapel without further harassment.  However, Lakshmi's plan to smuggle Galahad away from London has to be postponed:  the knight refuses to leave without rescuing Tesla, who has returned to Westminster Palace not knowing that Alastair is a traitor and will know of Tesla's involvement in helping Galahad escape.

Isabeau, hurt by Galahad's apparent deception and betrayal, reaches the shack where Lakshmi cared for the fallen knight.  In her anger, she vows to end the Rebellion.


 
Final Analysis

Though there are a few challenges which were impossible to overcome given the restrictions of "lantern combat" (primarily the difficulty of helping the player understand what works as "cover" without the ability to "take cover"), I feel the decisions made were the right ones.

Bringing back lantern combat was the right choice.  Arming the guards with lanterns and pistols creates a memorable and unique experience.  The level is challenging but encourages the player to make choices.  And it ends before its gimmick can get stale.



Section  1 |  2