Bloodlines, like all those other games, is about choice. Choice is what separates games from puzzles and pure narratives. Choice is the ESSENTIAL... Read All For the 5th episode of Watch Out For Fireballs, we did a good example of what would almost become a standard for the show: Deeply Flawed Gems. I'm on the record as saying that the open ended, first person RPG is more or less my favorite genre. You know, Deus Ex, System Shock, Bloodlines...um, almost nothing else? Bioshock and Dishonored sort of scratch this itch but criminy, are there not enough games like this. I feel like each one is a national treasure. I want a Bloodlines related holiday some time in April.
Bloodlines, like all those other games, is about choice. Choice is what separates games from puzzles and pure narratives. Choice is the ESSENTIAL aspect of game. If you aren't making choices, you aren't playing a game. I value games that value this. Bloodlines is ALMOST great at it. For most of the game, you can sneak or negotiate or kill or use powers or what have you. What happens about 3/4 the way through, however, is the Troika effect; the devs ran out of time and/or money and things get rushed and combat heavy. So god help you if you didn't roll a combat viable character.
The game plays drastically differently based on your choice of race in the beginning of the game, which points to the 2nd bit of choice being the essential aspect of game: you need to make choices, they need to matter. If you're a Malkavian, you are batshit insane, can spread your madness, have entirely different dialog the entire game. If you're Nosferatu, you can't allow yourself to be seen by humans without dire consequences. Other races impact your skills, abilities and dialog.
Still though, the story is dark and engaging, the quests are varied, the world is rich and interesting. More and more, I'm finding that almost all of my favorite games have a lot in common with table top gaming. Emulating that experience makes for a very different kind of fun than a mario or a zelda. Play this game when it goes on sale for five bucks on Steam.
Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention The Oceanside Hotel. A haunted house mission where nothing can hurt you, you'd be hard pressed to find a more tense, lovingly crafted horror experience in games. I want an entire game of this, just haunted houses where nothing can hurt you but everything freaks you the fuck out. It's not the best horror experience in gaming (or even the best one we'd done on the podcast so far) but it's top shelf.