The Best Laid Plans

by bhayden
1. May 2013 21:55

I had this plan, a vision if you will, to keep up the pace of playing games and writing reviews about them.  But then Awakening kept happening.  And then it happened again.  I’ve beaten the game three times now which is a definite first for me.  I’ve never replayed a game that quickly, and then replayed it again.

Central to my gaming experience with all RPGs is character building.  In my gaming groups I’m always one of the first to look around and think about building a new character.  There’s something intrinsically rewarding about thinking of a concept and then breathing life into.  Awakening taps into this in a visceral and simple way.

I didn’t replay the game again for the story or even for the characters.  I replayed for what the characters could become.  With the marriage and children systems in place there’s tons of minor tweaks and gains that could then be parlayed into different concepts for what a character could be.  Case in point, Kjelle went from unused in my first party, to a tank assassin in my second, to an actual armored tank in my third.

The powergamer in me obsessed for hours over these combinations.  I had spreadsheets that spawned spreadsheets.  I boiled it down to a science.  Within a few hours I could take a character and transform them from sapling to redwood.  It was like clockwork, a character factory generation.  There was something soothing in the rhythm of it.

Over the course of these three playthroughs I discovered a twto things.  First is that switching to casual changes the entire perspective of the game.  Further, it turns the harder difficulties into annoyances.  When there’s no risk of permanent unit death, the increased difficulty in the game becomes a buzzing fly.  Not that quiet fly that buzzes you quick and then wanders off to wherever it is that flies go, but it’s that one with the loud wings that decides to hang around your house a while.  Eventually it goes away (your characters get stronger) but while it’s there it is there.

Second is how the DLC radically changes the complexion of the game.  My first time through I didn’t play any of the DLC.  I spent hours grinding reeking boxes for gold, experience and dates.  After buying the experience and gold DLCs I’m wondering if they can ever go back to not having them.  There are now tons of artwork and units from other games in the series that have now been created.  I can only hope that we see something other than three map packs from this effort.  If there is justice in this world then we will.  And when we do I’ll be there, ready to brave the gauntlet again.

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