Things We Liked About Vampire: The Masquerade

As a series that started life as a tabletop RPG in 1991, Vampire: The Masquerade was the first in the larger part of The World of Darkness universe. It puts players in the roles of vampires that have integrated themselves into society. There are novels, TV shows, and of course video games based on the universe. There is a lot of lore to draw from and the recent video game Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong allows players to immerse themselves in that universe using RPG mechanics based on vampire lore and social skills developed through the game.

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This plays into the lore and tabletop mechanics that fans love about the Vampire: The Masquerade universe. There is no fight in Swansong, but players have to navigate the perilous world of vampire clans, their politics, and the murder mystery plot that the game’s protagonists have to solve. Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is a unique narratively driven title that may not appeal to everyone. Here’s what we liked and didn’t like about the game.


8 Liked: Intriguing World And Lore

Vampire: The Masquerade already has a well-established universe to draw from and whether one is interested in its world as a newcomer or a longtime fan of The World of Darkness, its world is incredibly deep with lots of information to get to grips with. The game’s codex is there to give background info on even the most minor NPCs that can be interacted with throughout the adventure.

The walls of text can be intimidating, but one doesn’t have to read it if they don’t want to. The world-building and lore are intended to draw the player into its universe in a compelling way and it works for the most part. The inner workings of this secret society of vampires living among humans are intriguing and believable. As a result, it’s a great way to get introduced to the Vampire: The Masquerade universe and serves as a primer for Bloodline 2.

7 Didn’t: The Character Models

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is the character models and facial animation. In motion and while moving around the environment, the three protagonists look pretty good.

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Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the game’s facial animation. The character’s faces resemble robotic dolls and look like a game from the PS3/360 era at best. The strong narrative is undermined by the lack of emotion and weird lip-synching issues. It’s a distracting issue in a game where so much focus is on a character’s face in the midst of what can be a very long conversation.

6 Liked: The Environments

While the character models suffer from looking a little last-gen, the environments of swansong and its artistic design are very impressive. There’s a cool gothic aesthetic that melds in a grunge/punk-like feel that’s reminiscent of societies and environments that are seen in movies like Blade and underworld.

We have technical level, Vampire: The Masquerade – swansong isn’t going to win any best graphics of 2022 awards. However, the use of lighting, camera angles, and level design is still very impressive. There’s enough there to make the player want to explore its world and find everything it has to offer.

5 Didn’t: It’s Unclear What To Do Next

In many ways, swansong can be commended for its lack of handholding. Unfortunately, there will be more than a few occasions where the player will find themselves wandering around trying to figure out what to do next.

The game isn’t always clear about what to do and one will find themselves relying far too much on trial and error. Furthermore, there’s no map or markers to indicate where to go or redirect the characters if they are wandering around in circles.

4 Liked: Three Interesting Protagonists

Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong places the player in the shoes of three different vampires. All three characters have been ordered to investigate a massacre at a party event. The three are quite different and have their strengths and character traits.

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Their destinies become intertwined as the mystery unfolds and it works well in driving the story forward and keeping the player interested. The characters are Emem a shrewd businesswoman and nightclub owner, Leysha, a seer that’s struggling to piece together her past, and Galeb an elder vampire with a lot of influence and wisdom. The characters complement each other well and feel unique in a way that prevents the narrative from getting stale.

3 Didn’t: Some Bad Voice Acting

In addition to the terrible facial animation, the immersion is broken further by some terrible voice acting that comes from some of the game’s NPCs. Vampires are usually associated with being charismatic and seductive beings capable of bending a person’s will.

So getting into a battle of wits with a character that doesn’t sound like they are in the moment can kill any sense of satisfaction that can come from these dialogue-based battles. Thankfully, the three main characters do a great job of carrying many of the game’s strongest scenes.

2 Liked: A Good Detective Story

In addition to being an intriguing vampire tale, swansong is an excellent detective game. Even though it’s a narratively driven RPG, the developers at Big Bad Wolf are no strangers to sleuthing games thanks to their work on The Council.

Fans of Frogware’s sherlock holmes and The Sinking City detective games will feel right at home with the mechanics and moral choices at work in swansong. Behind the gothic tale of vampires is a classic whodunnit that will keep sleuthing fans enthralled until its conclusion.

1 Didn’t: Technical Issues

Even though exploring The World of Darkness in swansong is usually a joy, the experience can often be ruined by some of the game’s technical hiccups. The controls can be fiddly and trying to select or highlight objects in the environment can be a pain.

Furthermore, some frustrating game-breaking bugs can hinder or ruin a player’s progress. Some issues like clues not revealing themselves can be remedied by resetting or restarting the game. However, more serious errors and corrupted saves have forced some players into restarting the game from scratch. With a game that features unskippable long conversations that would usually be enough for most players to throw in towel and give up completely.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is available now for the PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S

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