Another video game based in the world of the tabletop RPG World of Darkness has appeared with it being Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong from publisher Nacon and developer Big Bad Wolf Studio who previously brought us The Council. How did their latest game turn out?
The game is a third-person narrative RPG where you’ll be playing as three vampires who have to uncover a conspiracy in Boston. The setup is that the Prince of Boston, Hazel Iversen, learns that assassins have killed some of the Vampires of the Masquerade. To find out what is going on and who the perpetrators were, she sends the three Vampires you’ll be playing as out to gather information and to get to the root of the problem. These Vampires are Emem Louis, Galeb Bazory, and Leysha each of which is over 100 years old and has their own abilities that make them unique. To find out what you need to know, you’ll be gathering information from documents and talking to many different people along the way.
Swansong elects to tell its narrative by having each of the three character’s stories going on at relatively the same time. You control each one individually but the actions of one could end up affecting something in one of the other’s mission. As I said earlier, each of the three also have their own backstory, abilities, and personalities that make them stand out. Leysha has a daughter who you get to see her interact and suffers from some traumatic events in her past. Her abilities including being able to turn invisible and disguise herself to look like others both of which are a lot of fun to use. Galeb is the calm and cool type and is more specialized in detective work. This means that his abilities make him better at picking up on clues that the others can’t. Emem on the other hand is a seductive nightclub owner who is able to access areas the others can’t by using her teleportation skills.
Those interested in a lot of action may not enjoy this game as much as Swansong is more about using words to get the job done. Each of your character’s has a skill sheet with attributes that you’ll need to spend points on to level up. These include intimidation, persuasion, and others and they open up new dialog options when talking to people the higher they are and not having them high enough means you’ll miss potential important information. Your choices matter in this game and can lead to many outcomes including over a dozen endings. Along with getting information through dialog you can also gain access to important areas by finding a password or something to get past a locked security area. There is a ton of ways for things to play out and when you finish a mission it will even tell you things that you could’ve done which is handy for those who want to replay the game.
Being a Vampire means that at times you need to feed but when you also have to keep your identity a secret this means going about it discretely. You have a hunger meter that will fill up as you use your abilities and to lower it, you’ll need to feed on rats or humans. It’s no problem to do so but you need to make sure the human you are sucking the blood from is out of sight of others so that no suspicion comes your way.
While I enjoyed Swansong’s gameplay and narrative the visuals and technical performance is a tad disappointing. The environments in the game are solid but the character models are pretty stiff and ugly. Considering this is a game where you’ll be staring at a lot of people talking it doesn’t help when the model’s lips don’t move right and their expressions are pretty lifeless. The voice acting is also just so-so at best. As for bugs, I encountered several bugs during my playthrough that forced me to restart sections and waste time replaying. During these moments was where I found out that you can’t skip the dialog in the game. This is a developer decision I never will understand as no one likes to have their time wasted having to listen to something that they may have already heard. As for the trophy list you’ll find 37 trophies including a Platinum. Expect to put a lot of time into this to earn them all as many of them are choice related and will require multiple playthroughs to earn.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is a fun and intriguing third-person investigation game but one that is also a tad disappointing in certain areas. The visuals leave a lot to be desired, the voice acting from a lot of the characters is poor, and some patches need to come along to fix some of the more annoying bugs. Outside of those things I really enjoyed how different each of the three Vampires felt and the number of ways situations could play out depending on information you found or how your skills are leveled. If you’re looking for a new game to play that has a lot of player choice then you’ll likely enjoy your time with Swansong.
*Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong$59.99
- Intriguing narrative with lots for fans of the universe to appreciate
- All three characters are interesting and feel unique
- Tons of ways for your choices to play out
- Character model visuals are disappointing
- Has some annoying bugs that need to be patched out
- Dialog can't be skipped initially which can be annoying when having to replay sections due to a bug