And if the vampires really existed? What if these bloodthirsty predators lived hidden among us, engaged with meticulous skill in hatching ancient conspiracies? What if you were one of them? The series of Vampire: The Masquerade is based on these two simple questions, giving us the opportunity to impersonate the famous monsters of immense charm in a complex world where the boundary between the real and the supernatural is completely elusive. It is also true that this saga of gothic-colored RPG has not fared too well in recent years, with delays and postponements that have involved some chapters of the series, returned to the grave too soon. With Vampire The Masquerade: Swansong, which we analyze in reviews - developed by Big Bad Wolf, the French team behind The Council - however, there may have been a small flashback, thanks to a video game that is first and foremost a tribute to culture (if we can call it that) of the most famous bloodsuckers of all time.
Going heavily against the tide of titles that have invaded the market for years, including open world classics, Vampire The Masquerade: Swansong takes in the shoes of one of the three protagonists, each of which can show off the own supernatural abilities to investigate some questions that will vary according to how we decide to play. Hazel Iversen (also known as the Swan) is in fact the new Prince of Boston's Camarilla. Hazel intends to assert her power and respect her Masquerade, vampire code of conduct aimed at preventing humans from discovering the existence of these creatures of the night. Unsurprisingly, things will not go the right way, plunging the city into a series of conspiracies, assassinations and power struggles that will force us to act in the shadows to protect our sect.
As mentioned a few lines ago in the review, Vampire The Masquerade: Swansong says "no" to action, embracing a style of play that heavily winks at games like Telltale's The Walking Dead. But beware, Swansong is first and foremost a vampire themed RPG who loves to immerse the player in a whirlwind of statistics, talents and disciplines given to our night club. The choices, even minimal, they will have their own weight, conditioning ourselves, so much so that we will always have to be very careful on the how and when to spend points in the creation of the vampire build that we will have decided to impersonate.
Strong of a playful system and is approaching also and above all ai tabletop role-playing games, Swansong emphasizes ties between different vampire clans, and with a amount of dialogue that has the absurd: questioning a particular witness during the investigation of a murder, or activating and stalking a suspect following him through the streets of the city, is certainly useful to find an important clue, with a pleasant classic aftertaste that is not bad. Moving away from Bloodlines, Swansong is therefore closer to the slowness of a graphic adventure, so much so that the fights are almost completely sacrificed by virtue of numerous dialogue options that will require us to test our concentration (as well as that of the various NPCs that we will meet on our path). Attempting to persuade our interlocutor or pursuing him with intimidating tones will often make the difference between a successful investigation or not. The streets of Boston are also full of clues (which we will often and willingly find in the form of notes to read or objects), especially in a specific crime scene in which we will be called to rely primarily on our vampire senses.
I've been hungry for ...
Vampire The Masquerade: Swansong, as you may have already understood at the beginning of the review, is a game aimed at those who love slow gameplay, almost didactic, even if the feeling of having to do with a linear and scripted video game is almost absent: often we will even be called to write down codes and information on a piece of paper while not losing things on the street, which is what gives the game a retro look not to be overlooked. Behaving logically and acting on the basis of intuition and the ability to put the pieces of the puzzle together are in fact the basis of a gameplay mechanism that is as atypical as it is functional to the context. But be careful: we certainly cannot abuse ours ability, since for the choices we will have to use the so-called points willpower, A 'limited energy useful to use precisely the various skills, such as unlock doors, tamper communication systems and much more. A few old coins hidden here and there will allow us to restore willpower points, allowing us to continue the investigation in the best possible way.
Obviously, being a vampire game, the supernatural abilities (i.e. disciplines) will play a equally crucial role: to use them we will have to draw from hunger bar, so much so that if its indicator reaches a dangerously too high value we will be called to feed on blood to preserve our human form, so as not to be discovered by blowing up the cover (which would force us to abandon investigation, failing).
Perhaps, a little more work the team could have spent on a technical sector good, but not excellent: Swansong's face and character animations are certainly not perfect, which could make those looking for not only excellent writing and voice acting, but also graphics in the strict sense, turn up their noses. The dark and obscure streets of Boston, as well as some interiors, are in any case made with a fair amount of detail, immersing the player in an all in all suggestive atmosphere.
- Vampire: The Masquerade Swansong (Tested on PS5) 7.9 Final Vote
Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong is an excellent investigative title that has its roots (or rather, the teeth) in an extremely complex vampire universe full of fascinating characters. While the game may not satisfy Bloodlines fans due to its lack of action in the strict sense, Swansong is certainly worthy of attention for anyone who loves RPGs with a deep narrative footprint, who like to get lost in the details rather than the fighting. ends in themselves. Born in the wake of the adventures of Telltale, Vampire The Masquerade: Swansong is therefore a game designed primarily for those who love intrigues, murders and - of course - the thirst for human blood.