Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong Review

Vampire: The Masquerade gained an early following in its tabletop game format, pulling players into a World of Darkness filled with undead and other occult creatures and lore. The game series saw early video game adaptations at the turn of the century, but went largely silent after that. However, recently, Vampire: The Masquerade is returning to the world of video games, and now gamers have a new title to look at: Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong. Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is an RPG that plunges players directly into the world of vampiric civilization, with three playable characters acting on behalf of the Camarilla, one of the largest vampire organizations in the World of Darkness. The three playable characters of Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, Galeb, Emem, and Leysha, are summoned at the beginning of the game to solve a mystery that develops following an unexpected attack on a gathering of vampires celebrating unity . After meeting with the de facto leader of the Camarilla, Prince Hazel Iversen, players are put into the role of each playable character with a different role to play. All three playable characters are sent on their separate ways to determine the cause and culprit behind the attack, and to determine if there are any survivors left to rescue. Decisions made, actions taken, and story progression are largely up to the player, with many potential paths to follow. One of the greatest strengths of the game is that each area is filled with secrets and mysteries that remain to be solved, allowing players to access further story and unlock additional experience points. However, severe failure is also a possibility, as players may leave or fail to achieve the goal they set out to complete. vampire-masquerade-swansong-dialogue Although almost all vampires in The World of Darkness have special abilities and powers, individual vampire clans mean that each vampire has their own specialities. When a person is ’embraced’ and becomes a vampire, they become a member of the clan their Sire belongs to, and gain abilities with it. Galeb, the oldest of the playables, is a Ventrue, while Emem is a Toreador, and Leysha is a Malkavian. Each clan gives the characters a unique perk and advantage, and they are assigned to investigate accordingly. Galeb’s gameplay focuses more on direct investigation and questioning of lesser minds, while Emem’s clan allows him to achieve the goals set by his Prince through conversation, persuasion, and mobility. . Leysha, on the other hand, is valued by the Prince for her Malkavian curse, as it allows her to gain unique insights into her surroundings and occasional visions that show her the past or future. Big Bad Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong sticks to its tabletop roots, relying on a character sheet for players to level up and use earned experience points. Players can choose from a pre-established role for each character to start, or can assign their points individually as they see fit. EXP is awarded at the end of each character’s gameplay session, and points can be assigned before returning to their story. vampire-masquerade-swansong-galeb-character-sheet The experience points are split between several different paths. Players can invest their points in their base attributes, such as Physical, Social, and Mental, or in Skills or Disciplines. Character traits have an effect on their overall skills and discipline, and can help provide assistance. The Kindred’s Skills are used in both conversation and investigation, giving players the opportunity to do things like gain access to locked computers, doors, to better understand their surroundings, or gain information from NPCs that are pointless. Disciplines, however, are determined based on the character’s lineage. Malkavians, for example, have the ability to use Auspex, gaining insight into their surroundings, and Obfuscate, which allows them to disappear entirely or change their appearance to move more easily in areas such as scenes of crime Some disciplines are more conversation-oriented, like Galeb’s Dominate, while Emem’s Toreador Celerity allows him to move at great speed and access areas that mortals can’t reach. Players will likely find that their invested points are never wasted, but there are also opportunities that may not be accessible depending on the route players take, starting with the tutorial levels. vampire-masquerade-swansong-conversation While these skills and abilities are easy enough to choose from, there’s a good chance players new to the World of Darkness will be a little confused at first. The game drops players directly into the scenario, without any real introduction to how the World of Darkness works, what the individual clans are, the conflicts between specific Kindred groups, and so on. Those familiar with tabletop games or spin-off games like Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines will probably be right at home here, but those who haven’t tried VTM may need some adjusting time. There is very little handling in Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, so players should expect to use their memory and ingenuity. The game has no map, so players need to investigate every nook and cranny to discover every secret of the game. Codes and passwords are not remembered by the character, so the player must plan to memorize or write them down when discovered. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is largely up to the player, as some enjoy being let loose and allowed to make their own decisions, while others may prefer a little more guidance. However, there are some flaws in the game mechanics. Moving around in most areas is slow, as players are limited to a maximum movement speed of a gentle jog, and are often required to walk instead. In a game that relies heavily on exploration and frequent backtracking, this can make it a chore. Players also don’t have the option to skip or speed up most conversations and internal thoughts. It’s a surprising choice, since most RPGs and similar investigation and story-heavy games like Detroit: Become Human or Telltale’s The Walking Dead allow players to speed through conversations, but players will find they need to listen to every word before moving on. It becomes particularly frustrating when players are looking for points of interest and accidentally trigger one they’ve checked before, because their character will repeat the same thought without being able to skip it, and in some cases, the player cannot move until the thought is over. vampires are the masquerade swansong protagonists The game is also not without its bugs and quirks. While weird hair physics and clipping are a common part of games, in one that has a heavy emphasis on dialogue with little movement inside, it’s annoying to see the player character’s hair sticking out of their chests so often after to cut their backs. Biting human victims to drink their blood is limited to a very small number of NPCs in each area, but the biting cutscene sometimes shows heavy clipping and occasionally a large space between the vampire’s mouth and of their target’s neck while they are allegedly being bitten. Some conversations glitched out, in one instance leading to the player character becoming mute while talking, and in other cases, leading to some strange visuals and eventual crashes. Following a particular conversation glitch with Leysha, the world could no longer interact properly, and the game eventually froze trying to exit the area, requiring a full restart to fix. Overall, there’s a lot here that fans of Vampire: The Masquerade will likely like, and the wide range of abilities and choices to make should add a fair amount of replayability to the story. However, newcomers to the franchise would do well to read up on how the series works as a whole before starting, especially if they lack experience with tabletop games and how that experience is rewarded and used. Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong releases on May 19 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, with the Nintendo Switch version currently available. Today Technology has been provided the PC code for the purposes of this review. MORE: Vampire The Masquerade Bloodhunt: Clans That Should Be Archetypes In The Game

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