Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong – Test / Review (PC).
Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines made its debut back in 2004 as one of the most iconic vampire games ever released. Since then, many players have been waiting for a sequel to the title that has already been announced and is called Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2. To bridge the waiting time, both the battle royale game Vampire Bloodhunt and the title this review is about, namely Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, were released a few weeks ago! You can read in this review whether it’s worth buying the title!
Allow: The main characters
A video sequence tells you the background of Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong relatively early in the game! An attack was carried out at a party where only the most famous and well-known vampires were to be found, resulting in many vampires being killed, captured or simply missing. The Prince of Boston, Hazel Iversen, is blamed for what happened from other quarters, since her squad was in charge of the party. To prevent war from breaking out and to clear herself of the guilt, she sends three different vampires to uncover what’s happening and drive out damage control, even though some vampires on the council seem to disagree with the decisions. The vampires are 3 different ones, which we would like to introduce to you briefly and concisely. These are named Leysha, Emem and Galeb.
Leysha is one of the “Malkavians”. For a long time, for several years, she was in a twilight state and under therapeutic treatment. This is partly due to the visions that she gets at irregular intervals. Compared to the other two, however, she does have help, although it’s debatable if that can be called help. This help comes to a vampire child named Halsey. Sometimes she gives Leysha good hints, on the other hand some things don’t make sense.
Next up is Emem, a member of the Toreador. She is a club owner and Journey’s girlfriend, who, as the organizer, is currently the prime suspect. She has an extremely moving past, which you will inevitably come across in-game and thus better understand her actions!
Last but not least there is Galeb, who in our opinion is the best character in the game. He embodies exactly those idiosyncrasies that are most closely associated with a vampire. This means that he shows little or no emotion, seems selfish at first glance and you quickly notice that he has to think everything through logically before he acts. His voice is also calm and cold. Based on a video sequence, one learns the background of Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong relatively early at the beginning of the game. You can only see his emotions when he has to use his powers.
Which way do you choose?
First of all, we would like to point out that the entire story is divided into chapters, which take place exclusively at night and in each chapter you play the different characters individually. In order to make the events appear unique and to offer a certain multiplay value, you can and must choose your own role for each character, which will definitely give you advantages and disadvantages. For example, the respective vampire will be better at solving puzzles and literally playing detective if he has been assigned the respective role by you. There is also the communicative role or other possibilities that open up new ways for you to solve the tasks.
If you complete certain tasks or carry out various dialogues, you automatically gain experience points, which you can reinvest in certain skills or abilities. For example, you can use it to act more intelligently, threaten people better, or acquire similar advantages. But active skills such as improved lockpicking or rhetoric are also part of the game. Especially for missions in which you really have to play detective, we definitely recommend turning the entire area upside down and finding everything there is. This applies to evidence, useful items, artifacts or similar. This is because doing so unlocks new dialogue options or possibilities, which in turn grant bonus experience points and, piece by piece, give you the opportunity to unravel the mystery of the party’s attack.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s as easy as it sounds. Certain dialogue options or tasks have a high requirement and you must first be able to do them technically points. If these are not high enough, you cannot carry out the action. This in and of itself prevents you from being able to access certain objects. Worse, however, are the consequences of the dialogues. If these fail, it can happen that your character receives a negative “effect” and if there is a tie, the die decides. However, it is possible for you to use willpower points to increase your chance. You always have to think carefully about whether it’s worth investing points for a special path or whether it’s better to go the safe route, even if that means missing out on important, optional items or things. In addition, there are various usable items that temporarily improve your values if, for example, you are only missing 1-2 points. This also applies to replenishing willpower.
We need blood!
The second, and far more important point, is to keep an eye on the thirst meter and do so on a regular basis. Through actions or conversations and partly also automatically, the respective vampire, which we play, automatically gets thirsty. If this increases too much, it can happen that we cause a bloodbath and that is strictly forbidden at the masquerade. The most important commandment is still that humans must not know of the existence of vampires. The only exception to this is the human servants, or as we call them, blood donors.
There are plenty of these blood donors in vampire clubs or at headquarters and we can help ourselves to our hearts’ content. In the normal areas, however, we must be careful. The first thing to do is to find a safe hiding place. Then a person is put under our spell, brought to the hiding place and bitten with a long-winded video sequence that unfortunately cannot be skipped. This is still interesting the first time, but in all further biting rounds it is quite boring and lengthy. After all, you have to be careful not to draw too much blood from the victim, otherwise it will die and we endanger the masquerade, which should make the game more difficult. Luckily you have enough time to react, so this normally shouldn’t happen.
Strain your brain cells
However, we can tell you one thing: The puzzles and detective work in Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong are tough, although we think the dialogues are the easier subject. Mainly there is a lot of dialogue and a lot of talk, which at least gives us some important information. It is also possible, at least with Leysha’s skill, to eavesdrop on certain conversations. When examining objects or even corpses, we can often act strategically and thereby find new objects, passwords, clues or other things that in turn help us to solve the right puzzles.
For example, there is a puzzle in which you have to sort certain books in order to discover a secret passage. If, instead, we arrange the swans in a correct order, we arrive at confidential documents. One of the most difficult puzzles, however, was the stone elevator with the warlocks, which you first had to get going. Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong doesn’t think the player is stupid and brings a lot of amusing and difficult puzzles to make the game more interesting!
Beginners have a hard time
One thing that beginners in particular quickly feel is a veritable flood of information. From terms like firstborn, to thin-blooded to the “call” or the like, there should be a lot of question marks especially for newcomers to the vampire universe, especially since these are not automatically explained. After all, a codex has been integrated into the game in which interested players who are not familiar with the subject can obtain and read the basic information. This is also recommended in order to be able to understand the complete story.
There are also different ways in which the game and its story can unfold, which is why there are also different endings for each individual character. This also increases the replay value of Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong many times over. However, there are also different opinions here, because the game has received mixed reviews and therefore everyone should form their own opinion. One of the reasons for this is the technical aspect, which we are now going to talk about at the end.
Riddles hui, technology ugh!
Unfortunately, what the gameplay and the puzzles collect in plus points, the technical implementation of the game loses. One notices early on that many of the animations seem sluggish and the facial animation unfortunately doesn’t make this any better. With some characters, you feel like you’re actually looking into a doll’s face, which moves every now and then, opening and closing its mouth as if the doll were taking a breath. This definitely doesn’t look like real conversation animations. This is particularly noticeable with the really pretty looking vampires.
On the other hand, the ugly ones like Nostradamus or, depending on how you play, also in Galeb are well designed. Strangely enough, the animations here seem relatively smooth and good-looking. Efforts have been made at least in the design of the respective rooms and areas, which have been designed with great detail. Apart from a few exceptions, the selected speakers are definitely okay.