Title: Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong
Developer: Big Bad Wolf Studio
Publisher: Nacon, BIGBEN INTERACTIVE
Platforms: PS4, PS5 (Reviewed on), Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: May 19th, 2022
For many people, Stephanie Meyer ruined vampires. She bastardized the idea of a vicious and indiscriminate killer and turned it into an emotionally stunted disco ball. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for vampires to be bloodthirsty again and they can be with the help of the newest game Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong. Sharpen those fangs and fine-tune those supernatural powers because a mystery is afoot and we’re beyond the Mystery Gang on this one.
While Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong does take place after the Bloodlines game, the three stories interwoven in Swansong are not related to any previous game. You will play as three protagonists: Leysha, Galeb and Emem. These bloodsuckers are wrapped up in Boston vampire politics under Prince Hazel Iverson. Galeb is of the Ventrue Clan and is the oldest vampire in Boston. He talks of his age to younger vampires and his ability to resist a side effect of his age. He is known for surviving seemingly un-survivable situations and he is close with the Prince. Emem is a vampire of the Toreador Clan. She is a club owner and despises the vampire Court. She finds herself embroiled in the politics of the city against her will and isn’t afraid to share her opinions with others. Finally, Leysha is a vampire from the Malkavian Clan. Recently released from an institution by the Prince and still struggling with some lost memories, Leysha is now happy with her daughter, Halsey. Leysha has the Malkavian ability of premonition, which is useful to Prince’s past and present. Leysha can also make herself invisible to those around her and copy forms.
The story begins at the Prince’s residence. A code red has been issued and all vampires are to go to designated safe zones. Emem, Galeb and Leysha are assigned the Prince’s residence and are all called to help find out the source of the code red. That night was to be a party celebrating a peace treaty between vampires and warlocks of the city, but there was an attack at the party which turned it into a bloodbath. No one can contact anyone who was at the party and no one knows who orchestrated the attack. The Prince sends her three best allies to investigate who attacked the party and the reason for their motives. Was it a rival clan or could it be someone from the inside?
As someone who has never played a Vampire: The Masquerade game, I was curious to see how it would stack up to other investigative games as well as other vampire games. At first glance, the graphics look great. The stills show character models that could take your breath away and even during gameplay, there is a surprising amount of texture. I found myself watching the characters during cutscenes and really looking at their faces and skin to see the designs and how intricate they looked. BUT and there is a big but in this, that is where the good looking graphics end. When the characters aren’t moving, they look fantastic. When they start speaking, all of their movements are stiff and robotic. The mouths barely match words when talking because even their mouths are stiff. Every character has wide, dead shark eyes. I have seen more emotion and sparks of life in a FNAF animatronic. There’s just something off about the characters’ movements and that bothered me throughout. The environmental graphics look great though.
Weird graphical quality aside, I had a blast playing Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong. Pretty much the whole game is you cycling through each character with varying abilities to make choices and solve their part of the mystery and everyone loves a good mystery. You must comb every inch of your given map with your particular powers to influence those around you, search for clues, find secrets and figure out what the hell happened at the party. Each time you start as a character, it is played out like a chapter and at the end of the chapter, you get to see what you accomplished, what you missed and other choices you could have made. Having that bit at the end to tell you just how much you missed as well as pathways you could take increases re-playability.
Leveling up the character only occurs before each new chapter and your success in that character’s previous chapter will determine how many skill points you have to spend. Skills are expensive and there is a LOT to split it among, so what needs to be upgraded must be chosen wisely. There are things that can be missed because your dialogue, knowledge, or technology isn’t at the level and that is information not gained.
With each use of your special ability, your hunger will increase. If your hunger reaches its peak, you could lose control and kill a human unintentionally. Managing your hunger is crucial, so finding safe areas and humans to feed on is important. You have to control how much you feed on the human because if you accidentally or purposefully kill a human, the game’s difficulty will permanently increase and suspicion of your character goes up. There are consumables that can be found in the world, but they are few and far between so you must play wisely. It’s like inventory management in a survival horror but completely different.
Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong is very story and dialogue-heavy and dialogue choices are very important. You can miss out on entire sections of clues just by messing up a dialogue choice or not managing your level-up options. This quality in the game reminds me of a game called The Council, which isn’t strange because Big Bad Wolf developed The Council, as well. It too had character graphics that were slightly terrifying but an interesting story with dialogue-heavy gameplay. If you like this game, I would highly recommend playing The Council.
Another quality that I enjoyed about Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong was its inclusivity in character models. You have vampires of all shapes, sizes and creeds: male, female, bat-like, old, young, plus-sized, vampires with vitiligo and vamps of every race and religion. I really enjoy seeing vampires that aren’t just paperwhite, wide-eyed bores but an entire world of varying undead.
Despite the unsettling character movements and the fact that sometimes when running, the character may accidentally slide across the floor as if it was an ice rink, Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong is a hell of a good time. I loved running around, looking for clues and feeling like a straight-up undead Sherlock Holmes. If you need a game to get you away from the fast-paced world that is gaming these days, this one will slow you down and make you really take in your surroundings.
You can play Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/S, PC and Nintendo Switch. If battle royal is more your thing, check out Vampire: The Masquerade- Bloodhunt for free.
Vampire: The Masquerade- Swansong (PS5) Score – 8/10
Although the graphics can sometimes leave a lot to be desired, the gameplay is a lot of fun, immersing the player in the intricate politics of vampire society. And you get some wicked powers too.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.