Robin Hood: Little John has Joined the Party

Having now acquired Little John, I get to bring him on missions. As expected, he’s a variant on the Strong Merry 1Tangentially, the game’s random name generator has given me a merry man amusingly named Much Strong. He isn’t even a Strong Merry. He’s an archer. — he’s basically the strongest merry, and has most of the standard Strong Merry abilities plus a couple of additional ones of his own. In particular, he has the same sucker punch as Robin, allowing him to take down most enemies instantly and nonlethally, provided he can get close enough without them engaging him in combat. Having two characters who can do that on the same team is actually something of a game-changer: when Robin fails in his approach and winds up tangled in combat, John can take advantage of the distraction to deliver the punch, and vice versa. They’re like a tag team, the two inseparable friends.

The second plot mission after that seems built to emphasize this use, too. A potential ally is being held prisoner in his own castle, so you have to break him without killing anyone on the way in — those are his own men! (He’s okay with you pummeling them unconscious, tying them up, and leaving them in a closet, though.) I think this is the first time the game has actually forced the player to refrain from killing, rather than just suggesting and encouraging it. For my part, it just meant I had to continue playing the game exactly as I had been up to that point.

I’m really considering ditching the no-deliberate-killing policy at this point, though. It would open up new options, like actually letting Robin use a bow once in a while. As it is, I’m mainly using the same tools and techniques to slowly and methodically win every level. There’s a satisfaction to those techniques — it’s essentially similar to the satisfaction of tidying up — but when I was taking a similar approach in Deus Ex, it was largely to facilitate exploration, and that’s less of a factor here, where the same three castles are used repeatedly.

Recall that the game punishes killing by making it more difficult to recruit additional merry men. But I have more than enough merry men already, more than I can easily manage. And here’s the thing about extrinsic motivations: once established, they tend to devalue intrinsic ones.

1 Tangentially, the game’s random name generator has given me a merry man amusingly named Much Strong. He isn’t even a Strong Merry. He’s an archer.

1 Comment so far

  1. matt w on 24 Feb 2024

    I’m not that bothered by Ranulph distinguishing between knocking his men out and killing them, but why aren’t his own men doing anything to rescue him?

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