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Co-Op Enemies: Houdini Splicer

Martin Finnegan

Houdinis are my favorite enemies, right after Brute Splicers. Their direct connection to Plasmids makes them original right from the start, and could potentially grant them a lot more diversity than in the two existing games. Despite coming in two varieties, both Fire and Ice Houdinis don't change much at all, with the latter simply dealing more damage with the same attack. Houdini Splicers could benefit from a closer relation between their powers and the Plasmids they're using, with each variety having their own unique attacks. Moreover, they could do with a wider breadth of elements at their disposal.

Research Bonuses

Awarded at random:

  • +Damage Against Houdini Splicers
  • Enhanced Detection (enemies in the area are highlighted, even through walls, and you can see dematerialized/cloaked/disguised enemies)
  • EVE Drain (successful Plasmid attacks grant you EVE)

Changes: Stage One

In my singleplayer interation on the Houdini Splicer I proposed two new types in addition to the existing ones: the Lightning Houdini and the Psi Houdini, related to Electro Bolt and Telekinesis respectively. In co-op mode, there could be another two more, this time designed specifically to incapacitate one or both of the players. Introducing the Quasar and Chrono Houdinis:

Fire Houdini: Garbed in red and orange robes, the Fire Houdini would remain the closest to its predecessors, and would focus on dealing damage to the player.

Attack: Incinerate!. Though it'd fire like the Fire Houdini's typical fireball attack, instead of dealing just direct damage it'd deal only a portion of it instantly before setting the victim on fire, thus dealing damage over time. As will all flame effects, this could be doused in water.
Strengths: Deals lethal amounts of damage, can set off fire-based traps and hazards.
Weaknesses: Weak around water, cannot deal large amounts of damage instantly.

Ice Houdini: Contrarily to the Fire Houdini, this enemy would try to weaken you as much as possible, leaving you vulnerable to attacks from other enemies. Wears deep blue and white robes.

Attack: Winter Blast. What this attack would lack in damage it'd make up for by chilling the target, slowing them down and increasing their vulnerability to damage.
Strengths: Deadliest of all Houdinis when it's got friends, weaken the player.
Weaknesses: Weakest Houdini when alone.

Lightning Houdini: On dry land, this Houdini type would act as a diversion of sorts, forcing you to attack them first. When near water, however, it could have the power to deal crippling amounts of damage as well. Wears yellow and grey robes.

Attack: Electro Bolt. This'd fire like a ball of electricity, and would deal only a small amount of damage on dry targets. However, it also momentarily interrupts their attacks and movement. If the target is in contact with a body of water, however, they'll take critical damage.
Strengths: Freeze you in place, interrupt your attacks, deal critical damage if the victim is touching water.
Weaknesses: Weak when not around water.

Psi Houdini: A versatile enemy, the Psi Houdini could fit a variety of roles depending the environment, and could be effective at both damage and area denial. Wears purple and black robes.

Attack: Telekinesis. Basically, the Psi Houdini could pick up the most lethal object in their vicinity and use it in a way that'd affect you the most. This means the Splicer could set off environmental hazards, throw explosives at you or even turn your own traps against you.
Strengths: Unpredictable, can deal consistently high damage (especially with explosives).
Weaknesses: Weak when there aren't any dangerous objects nearby, completely defenseless in empty areas, can be forced to drop whatever they're holding by freezing or electrocuting them.

Quasar Houdini: Armed with the power of gravity, the Quasar Houdini would mainly try to manipulate the players' movement and even immobilize them. Wears teal and green robes.

Attack: Gravity Well. Rather than a stationary singularity, it'd fire out in the shape of an orb from the Splicer's hands. It'd also travel at a slower rate than the above projectile attacks. Any small physics objects, projectiles and shots close to the orb would be dragged into it and absorbed. Mobile targets would also be dragged towards it, and upon contact with the orb would be temporarily dragged along by it as it passes through them, unable to escape until it leaves them completely and taking continuous damage.
Strengths: Capable of immobilizing the players, can nullify incoming attacks.
Weaknesses: Slow shots can be dodged and manipulated more easily.

Chrono Houdini: Whereas the Quasar Houdini'd control gravity, the Chrono Houdini would control time, and could use it to momentarily disable one of the players. Wears sand and copper robes.

Attack: Chrono Warp. Would also fire out like an orb, and would travel at the same speed as the Quasar Houdini's Gravity Well. However anything caught in the orb would be warped in time and thus slowed down greatly, including bullets. Like with the above Gravity Well this attack would pass through targets, warping them in the process. Warped targets, in addition to being slowed down, would also have their attacks warped in time even if they exit the orb's area of effect and would take continuous damage.
Strengths: Able to take a player out of combat for a few moments, can escape much more easily.
Weaknesses: Slow shots can be dodged and manipulated more easily.

Tier One Mutations

  • Ergokinesis: Elite Houdini Splicer's projectiles home in on their target.
  • Volatile Core: Elite Houdini Splicer's projectiles explode on impact, releasing their element all around. In the case of a Psi Houdini's attacks the explosion takes the form of a shockwave, knocking back anything within.
  • Energy Reflection: Elite Houdini Splicer's projectiles ricochet upon impact with the scenery. Can ricochet up to three times before disappearing.

Evolution: Stage Two

Houdini Splicers are directly connected to Plasmids, and since the players' Plasmids evolve over time, so would they. They could connect even closer the elements they embody, both cosmetically and in terms of gameplay, to the point of becoming avatars of pure Plasmid power. In addition to granting them new abilities, this would also grant them new immunities, strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, instead of firing a single projectile the new Houdinis would fire two before dematerializing, and would have passive elemental effects that'd remain even when they move around while invisible.

The new Fire Houdinis could fully embody the fire they wield, their flesh molten entirely. The very air around them would shimmer with heat.

New Abilities: Exuding pure flame, the Fire Houdini would set anything it comes into contact with on fire, be it an object, environmental hazard or player (or even another enemy). Its elemental affinity would also grant it complete immunity to fire damage.
Super Attack: Fire Storm. Instead of performing a projectile attack, the Fire Houdini would stand still, charge up, and release an explosive burst of flame covering the entire area around it, igniting anything within.
New Weaknesses: As beings of pure fire, their prime weakness would be water. If they come into contact with water they'd take continuous damage, and ice-based attacks would damage them while they're frozen.

The new Ice Houdinis would also turn into their element, their bodies turning into semi-transparent crystal ice.

New Abilities: In addition to gaining a complete immunity to ice-based attacks the Ice Houdini would chill the area around it, slowing you down and increasing your vulnerability to damage the more you approach it. It'd also be able to freeze water it comes into contact with. If you happen to be standing in a pool of water, this'd freeze your legs, rooting you to the spot.
Super Attack: Ice Flurry. Would work like an icy version of Fire Storm.
New Weaknesses: Obviously, Ice Houdinis would have an increased vulnerability to heat. In addition to taking extra fire damage, all flame effects would deal all of their damage over time instantly to the Houdini. Electrical attacks would also deal extra damage to them and stun them for longer.

The new Lightning Houdinis, rather than turn into pure electricity, would have their flesh convert to a highly conductive metallic substance, coursing with electrical streams.

New Abilities: Imbued with electricity, the Lightning Houdini would be able to electrify anything upon contact. If they touch water they'd electrify it, dealing critical damage to anyone within, and any punches they'd throw would have the power of a One-Two Punch. As with the above two, this Houdini would be immune to its own element, i.e. electricity.
Super Attack: Static Discharge. An electrical version of Fire Storm and Ice Flurry.
New Weaknesses: Thrown metal objects would short-circuit the Lightning Houdini, stunning them and dealing them additional damage. Meleeing them would have the same effect, if only because you'd be hitting them with more metal.

The new Psi Houdinis, in order to represent their power, could turn into husks of raw energy, with only their partially absent skin to cover them.

New Abilities: The Psi Houdini would have a protective field around it, stopping any incoming thrown objects (also allowing it to catch them and throw them back). That same field would cause anything around the Houdini to float momentarily into the air before crashing back down and taking damage.
Super Attack: Psionic Boom. During this attack Psi Houdini would stand still, charge up and violently eject everything nearby, including live enemies. Hitting something on the way deals the target damage.
New Weaknesses: With so much exposed unstable energy, the Psi Houdini would be vulnerable to melee attacks, which'd cause them to take increased damage and periodically rematerialize when turning invisible for a short while.

The new Quasar Houdinis, having spliced so much into gravity-altering abilities, would have collapsed into a walking, living singularity, and would be pitch-black save for their two burning white eyes.

New Abilities: In addition to being immune to the effects of Gravity Well and related abilities, the Quasar Houdini would also exert its own gravitational pull, sucking anything that comes too close into itself. Small objects would be absorbed entirely, larger ones would be dragged and thrown across the area, and live targets would be slowly dragged towards the Houdini, taking continuous damage which would increase as they'd approach the Splicer.
Super Attack: Gravity Burst. As with the above, the Quasar Houdini would stand still and charge up, and then disable the gravity of everything in the affected area, sending them floating upwards and giving it ample time to pick off its now-vulnerable targets.
New Weaknesses: Though being massively attractive (Terrible pun, but it had to be made. Sorry.) would have its perks, it'd also be the Quasar Houdini's weakness. Any projectile passing near the Splicer would be pulled into it, and would gain a physical damage bonus.

The new Chrono Houdini would be phased out of time, appearing in multiple poses at once. Parts of their body would also be at various stages in time, with some atrophied to a childlike state and others well into decomposition or even reduced to their bones. The Chrono Houdini's body would shift as well, with their parts moving rapidly back and forth through time.

New Abilities: Obviously, Chrono Warp and other time-related effects would have no effect on the Chrono Houdini. In addition, they'd have a bubble of slow time around them, warping anything and anyone too close to them, including bullets.
Super Attack: Time Bubble. After standing still and charging up, the Chrono Houdini would project its warping field outwards, warping everything caught by the attack in time.
New Weaknesses: Since parts of the Chrono Houdini would be older and thus more fragile than others, hitting skeletal portions of the Splicer would deal far more damage to them.

Tier Two Mutations

  • Elemental Shields: Upon rematerializing, Elite Houdini Splicer creates two orbs of its element (or pulls two large stones from the ground in the Psi Houdini's case) which'd orbit them and absorb attacks that hit them, disappearing in the process. When the Houdini dematerializes, any of these objects that remain are ejected towards nearby targets, inflicting their element upon impact. In the Psi Houdini's case, the rocks would knock the target back.
  • Force Field: Any shots or projectiles that hit the Elite Houdini Splicer bounce off the latter (which still deals them damage) and gain the Houdini's elemental effect (knockback in the Psi Houdini's case).
  • Instant Teleporter: What it says on the tin. Elite Houdini Splicer teleports to its target area instantly, without having to dematerialize and reassemble in between.

Evolution: Final Stage

At this point there's not much that could be added to each Houdini type's set of powers. Instead of advancing in depth, the Houdini Splicers could evolve in breadth. These new Houdinis would be able to master two elements instead of just one, gaining access to the abilities of both types but retaining both elements' weaknesses as well. Gameplay-wise, the Houdinis would compound both elements' passive bonuses, would be able to select one of their two super attacks at random, and would fire one projectile of each element during their attack volleys. Cosmetically, their body would be a sort of jigsaw mix between their two power sets, with half of their body parts having the appearance of one element and half with that of the other. Mathematically, this'd mean the amount of possible Houdini types would jump from six to fifteen.

Tier Three Mutations

  • Molecular Manipulator: Elite Houdini Splicer gains the ability to use one of Presto's advanced forms. If the Houdini can manipulate time or gravity it'll use Summon Explosive, if it uses ice or electricity it'll gain the Jet Stream Plasmid and if it wields fire or telekinesis it'll be able to fire Solid Fuel. If the Houdini wields elements of two different sets its Presto ability will be determined from the two options at random.
  • Master Elementalist: Elite Houdini Splicer's main attacks are replaced with more powerful iterations of their respective Plasmids: Incinerate! is replaced with Dragon's Breath, Winter Blast with Snowstorm, Electro Bolt with Electric Overload, Telekinesis with Pummel, Gravity Well with Gravity Link (which it'd use mainly to pull objects towards you but also to pin you to the scenery) and Chrono Warp with Dilation Field.
  • Perfect Synergy: All of the Elite Houdini Splicer's attacks combine its two Plasmid effects, i,e, its main attacks and super attack release its two elemental powers at once. If the Houdini possesses Quasar or Chrono abilities but isn't a Chrono-Quasar hybrid its projectiles travel at the other elemental projectile's speed.

Whew. That probably took you quite some time to read in full (though, I assure you, not nearly as much as it took to type the damn thing). What are your thoughts on this? Tell me if I'm not doing something right.

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