Hm... It's difficult - I think there are a few interlinked things with that and death penalties and combat pacing that all boil down to a question on how you want the player to play. You've got some mechanics in there (shouting for help, line of sight for guards) that point to a fairly tactical, fairly sneaky gameplay style. On the other hand, the fact that literally every guard in the zone gets summoned very fast by one shout then means the combat pacing after that point is extremely fast and mostly involves a lot of running backwards and dodging and maybe maneuvering to a point where you can throw a table if you're lucky. It currently feels like the sneak-related mechanics are underused. So it depends - if you want a lot of continuous explosions, gore, and carnage, which the system is well built for, then you probably want to keep death with a fairly low penalty, and it consequently doesn't matter too much if you run into a room and go straight into combat.
If on the other hand (and this would be my inclination, but it's not my call to make) you want to try and work out a slightly more sneaky play style (which to me would fit the theme better, it doesn't feel light hearted enough a game for the player to want to shrug off getting murdered to death repeatedly), then you want a significant hike to the penalty for dying and some combat tweaks might help. For example making the "cry for help" (or people running from hearing an explosion or whatever) radius-limited rather than affecting the whole level, and making it a more obvious action for the soldier to do (maybe difficulty-balanced by making eg the spear and crossbow troops a little tougher). That would greatly decrease the likelihood of retreating through a door with ten guys in front of you. I guess there could also be some sort of warning in place if there are lots of enemies the other side of a door so the player knows to go in shield-up, but that might be tricky to implement. Or, perhaps more easily, put it on a timer after you leave a room (say 30s) that the guard positions reset. That would make the "sniping" tactic so painfully slow as to seriously discourage it.
That's a bit of a ramble and I've no idea if it's at all helpful (I'm always terrified about giving people advice on such things, as a hobbyist I have very bad but-I'm-not-a-real-game-designer syndrome ), but it's some thoughts anyway!
I'd say it's a mix we're going for. The game was created from the idea of making a game in which you play a 'proper' wizard. Not just a generic mage, but someone like Merlin or Gandalf, with exceptional power and some real stakes in the world he's in.
Facing tons of enemies and destroying half the level goes a long way to making the player feel that power, but I'd still like to make dying matter so that the player needs to be smart about how they're going in. There has also been a lot of tweaking back and forth in regards to the difficulty. Some players apparently find this game very difficult (quite a lot of people give up when they reach the camp battle), so we've been trying to find our footing when it comes to challenge.
The shout actually does have something like a radius. Enemies check the pathfinding distance between themselves and a noise to see if they should react, so more open spaces are more likely to draw enemies. We could certainly try reducing it though.
The stealth mechanics that are there sort of emerged naturally. They were originally implemented so that the player could escape from combat to catch a breather, or lure enemies into traps, but it became possible to sneak through a level if you're really careful. Knocking enemies out using walls or small objects makes the least amount of noise, and you can use the telekinesis to throw objects around corners without revealing yourself.
One idea I've been thinking of is to implement different enemy behaviours, so certain enemies will only run into combat if you enter their starting radius, and will return to their posts if they lose track of you. It will probably help to space out the encounters a little more while still being vaguely believable.
I might take your advice on the door thing. The main issue is preventing enemies from immediately killing the player and locking them into an endless death loop, there should perhaps be a minimum distance from the door they have to be.
Also while we're on the subject of difficulty, what do you think of the player slowing down when they get hit? It'd make running through the level trickier, but could also seriously annoy some players.
V happy to hear about the animancer's area!
(What's the other one in the pink zone referred to as? I just made keromancer and telemancer up from relevant Greek words in the last post as I couldn't think of better descriptions!)
At the moment the wizards are:
The Kineticist (you) - Physical forces
The Alchemist - Transformation magic
The Elementalist - Elemental forces, fire, ice, electricity, etc (the player has the fire power in the prototype to show it off, but it wasn't intended to be a starting power)
The Illusionist - Light (lasers, illusions, glass constructs)
The Necromancer - Undead soldiers, corpse magic
The Cosmologist - Space and time manipulation
The Animancer - Living things, plants, growth
The Ontologist - Knowledge, existence