Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines is a hard game to review, because it scores so differently along different metrics. In terms of polish? The game came out in an infamously rushed and unfinished state, and even after years of fan-made mods and fixe, the animations are still wonky and janky. Without mods and fan fixes, it\'s a leaky boat crawling with bugs. In terms of sound? A mixed bag. While the music and overall sound design are great, and the lead characters are all superbly voice acted, lots of background characters were clearly done quick and cheap. And sometimes the music, sound effects, and voicework fight with each other. In terms of design? The levels are great. Replaying the Ocean House Hotel really hammers home how the ghosts\' vanishing is carefully disguised by fixtures in the environment. And, before the later, less-finished and -polished parts of the game anyway, there\'s often two or three routes to any given problem, following the usual template, albeit with later parts leaning much more heavily on the combat. However, the game also suffers from having lots of newb traps. Lots of skills are much more useful and potent than others. Point allocation at chargen inherits many perverse incentives from the game it\'s based on. And the presence of skill-increasing books and tutors may work as crutches for people who didn\'t buy useful skills, but it also means that putting too many points into them too early can feel like a bad move that wastes precious XP. In terms of story and writing? Well, it does a fantastic job of trying to realize the World of Darkness as a setting, with news and advertisements just over-the-top enough to be funny while getting across that this is a worse version of our world. And the humor is often spot-on, particularly as a Malkavian. It at least tries to incentivize roleplaying a character. Plus, the variety of colorful, well-designed characters and personalities add a lot to proceedings. But, well... The narrative kind of fights itself in the process. The character is clearly supposed to grow frustrated with always being jerked around by all of these people as they tell them to do jobs, but, as a player, I started up this game to have a fun adventure, and all of these people are just asking me to go have fun adventures. Worse, they generally reward me well for them, are suitably grateful, and the major exception is pretty much the game\'s main villain. It just doesn\'t work. Finally, in terms of game feel? It\'s... fine. Balance is a bit off, with a number of early boss fights being bonkers hard and later ones really easy, but it\'s adequate. Progression can be frustrating, with so much to spend points on, but XP gain does ramp up with the player\'s needs as the game goes on. It\'s still a game I love, but I love it warts and all. Do go get a fan-patch though. And maybe a walkthrough.
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