Much like other fans of the original I was quite disappointed to see the cancellation of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. The original Bloodlines game was an immersive sim RPG/FPS and fantastic fun. A fleshed out new sequel was looking like it could be a smash hit and great refresher to the IP. There have been video games using the Vampire: The Masquerade table top RPG rules for a while but these have been smaller text based adventures. Swansong is a strange title that feels like it has been cobbled together from the remains of Bloodlines 2 and unfortunately it really should have been left to the past.
Vampire The Masquerade Swansong is a visual novel in 3D form. You’ll walk around interact with characters and use the TTRPG rules and skills to influence outcomes. There are moments where everything looks fantastic and the interactions between characters have some real weight and subtly to what’s going on between them and then the game will bug out. The texture pop-in is especially bad with some scenes cutting between characters and waiting for the visuals to load in after. Not the results you expect to see in a Xbox Series X title. All of the incredibly beautiful style and artistry in the cutscenes is lost by slow pacing.
There’s not a lot to say about Vampire The Masquerade Swansong sadly. The acting seemed to flow really nicely if you pick the right options but some lines felt like they were recorded for a different context. Once I got my head around the influence and hunger I was ready to get into Vampire The Masquerade Swansong and then found myself locked in a small bar area unable to get out despite following every tutorial and using everything around me. Resetting took me back to the a very long very unskippable introduction to the world and setting that’s nice the first time but a chore the second.
Other systems seem to fare better with Vampire The Masquerade Swansong than the Series X and I’ve seen plenty of gameplay and playthroughs that show a twisty story with plenty of great ideas. It’s just a shame that on the Series X I couldn’t experience them. Given it has been weeks since launch I didn’t expect a Cyberpunk day 1 experience. I spent the entirety of my time with Vampire The Masquerade Swansong trying to ignore the ugly visuals, clunky controls and try to just enjoy the conversations but after multiple repeated failings it just wasn’t worth pushing further. What makes this experience so frustrating is there are some superb character designs, flair in the levels and cutscenes that should make it GOTY material, sadly the actual game just isn’t up to par.
2/10 – A nice idea but a swan’s song away from the masquerade