Our Score: 8/10
What if vampires really existed? What if these vicious creatures lurked among us, painstakingly and deftly plotting old plots? And what if you were to become one of them? You play as these attractive monsters in Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong. In a complex world where the limits between the real and supernatural are constantly blurred.
In recent years, there has been a rise of games set in the Vampire: The Masquerade world. But the majority have been text-based games. Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong appears to break the trend with its visual style, however that’s not the case. So be ready for a character-driven adventure where your decisions will influence the plot.
Swansong’s story sees you playing as three different vampires who serve Hazel Iversen, the new Prince of the Boston Camarilla. Iversen enlists the help of ancient protector Galeb, ambivalent Emem, and Malkavian Leysha to uncover the events behind a vampire massacre. You’ll be involved in different intrigues, diplomacy, assassinations, and simple puzzles along the road. There is some flexibility in how you set up each character’s stat points and skills. But once you commit to a path, you may find that the best options are no longer available. This ensures that your decisions have effects, but it makes the experience feel much more constrained and confined.
Regardless of whose abilities and attributes you choose, each character has a unique power that sets them apart. Galeb excels at commanding and persuading humans, Emem can blink over spaces, and Leysha can impersonate others to infiltrate her targets. These abilities provide the most game-like features of Swansong and are fine, but they do feel like the game is driving you down certain courses at times.
Swansong Power Moves
To use these abilities, you’ll need Willpower points, which can only be obtained from quest rewards or unusual consumables. Willpower points are also utilised to impact dialogue skills, so create a balance between using skills to investigate and having conversation alternatives available. Hunger is the other disposable mechanism, with particular talents and powers increasing your desire for blood. When this begins to fill, you must eat (rats or humans) to keep your inner Beast under control. Drinking from humans requires you to find safe spots away from prying eyes, whilst feeding on rats can affect your influence on others.
Swansong, like any good soap opera, does an excellent job at probing psychological topics such as trauma, grief, and regret while being entertaining. And, like any good soap opera, it produces a toxic love-hate relationship with uncontrollable twists. And, in this instance, uneven mechanics and systems.
Swansong’s various routes and alternative storylines have received a lot of attention in the lead-up to its release. S feature that encourages players to revisit the game and make different decisions. These paths can be created by completing or abandoning specific discussions, solving or abandoning puzzles, or discovering or not discovering collectible documents. When you complete each level, the mission screen will show you alternative paths you may have taken, but not how to get there. Some of these will require certain skill builds (a particularly vexing technique). While others will direct you to individuals or goods you haven’t yet discovered.
Visually the game is a pleasure to look at. You feel immersed in the world and there’s a weird sense of that gothic feeling from Bloodlines. On the audio visual front, you’ll find yourself quite immersed in the world. However, I do feel like I missed out on exploring Boston. I know that isn’t the scope of this game but being in Boston and having such a beautiful art style and design was frustrating. Because I wanted to see more of the world. And also probably because we’ve been waiting for Bloodlines 2 for so long.
Final Verdict for Swansong
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is a no-brainer if you’re a fan of this world and universe. It has an interesting story that plays quite well with the game’s RPG mechanics to allow for replayability and unique playstyles. And while we’re still far away from Bloodlines 2, this game will surely help satiate that thirst to play as a Vampire in a video game.