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Video Game / Vampire: The Masquerade — Swansong

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Vampire: The Masquerade — Swansong is a single-player, narrative-driven RPG developed by Big Bad Wolf, published by Nacon, and based on the Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition. The game was released on May 19, 2022, for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S, following delays from 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic slowing down the production.

The events occur in Boston, September 4 — 7, 2019. The player takes control of three multifaceted vampires: Galeb Bazory, a high-class, intimidating Ventrue; Emem Louis, a bold, alluring Toreador; and Leysha, a Malkavian who's being followed around by her daughter, Halsey, who likewise is a Malkavian. The plot revolves around the aftermath of the violent circumstances of the reunification of Boston and Hartford domains negotiated by Hazel Iversen, the Prince of Boston, and Tremere Chantry of Hartford. Various highly influential members of the Camarilla community were destroyed or captured by a group that appears to be highly knowledgeable about their quarry's habits and weaknesses. Quickly it becomes evident that these foes are none other than the Second Inquisition, which came to Boston to cleanse all Kindred.

Desperate, the Prince commissions all three protagonists to help her eradicate the Inquisition.

The player can customize the protagonists by choosing to upgrade their disciplines and character statistics to suit their preferred playstyle. This influences character interactions and skills used while exploring the game world, such as picking locks and hacking computer terminals. The protagonists will also engage in 'confrontations' with other characters and will have to win these verbal sparrings by using a combination of their wits, social skills, and disciplines. The game doesn't feature any simulated combat.

The game provides examples of:

  • Acid-Trip Dimension: The Tremere chantry in Hartford has one of these where they keep prisoners in a horrible Mordor-like dimension for experimentation and exsanguination.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Leysha often peppers her speech with "Pumpkin" and "Sugar-Fangs" when talking to her daughter.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • There's a lot in Swansong that only makes sense, or at least makes more sense, if you're familiar with not only Vampire, but the various changes made in the game's 5th Edition. It's not a great introduction to the universe. If you're very careful about reading the in-game Codex, you can spot a few interesting pieces of information that effectively spoil/foreshadow some of Swansong's big twists. For example, Halsey is a lower generation than Leysha.
    • The game contains extensive codex entries for all of the major characters that go into their backgrounds, giving sometimes centuries-long histories.
    • Boston by Night is a supplement created for the tabletop game as written by Matthew Dawkins, explaining some of the characters' backstories and details about the city. It comes with the video game in PDF format.
  • Anyone Can Die: Their respective climactic scenes pit each protagonist against nigh-impossible odds. Leysha has to navigate a maze with an enraged werewolf for company, Galeb has to deal with the leader of the Society of Leopold, and Emem has to manually hack S.A.D.'s servers while said S.A.D. soldiers are breathing down her neck. Failing will result in the protagonists' truly gruesome demise.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit:
    • Galeb wears an impeccable suit the entire time he is working for the Prince, even when he's taking down the Second Inquisition.
    • Leysha may not appear to be so but her Bifauxnen look accompanied by her suit doesn't impede her ability to kick ass one bit.
  • Big Bad: Monsignor Stanford is the leader of the Second Inquisition in Boston and someone who must die in order for the Kindred to be saved.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Despite being a vampire, Hilda is noticeably larger than the other women of the cast and still treated as a desirable Toreador with a history of many lovers.
  • Broken Masquerade: The Second Inquisition has found out about the Kindred of Boston and a series of dangerous missions must be undertaken in order to get rid of their database, eliminate their leadership, and allow the survivors to escape back into the night.
  • The Caligula: Quentin King III was a Prince who ruled unjustly, let his followers get away with anything, and was ultimately overthrown by Hazel Iverwood.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Berel Underwood is a Kindred financier who has apparently done so much exploitation that his own sire has turned his back on him.
    • Hazel Underwood has this as something she did way back in the 1940s and has continued past undeath. She is less obvious about it but as thoroughly ruthless as Underwood.
    • Jason Moore makes all of his money from high powered business dealings with the city's elite. This includes the Kindred and their blatantly illegal enterprises.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Monsignor Stanford engages in this with Galeb as a means to extract information from him.
  • Death by Disfigurement: One possible ending for Galeb post-torture. Should he fail to break Stanford's willpower in their last encounter, he will be smote by True Faith on the spot.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The forcible blood bonding of Emem is treated like a sexual assault by the game.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: While fairly palpable with Emem and Leysha, it gets egregious with Galeb, a 300-year old Ventrue who, like the other two protagonists, starts with no ingrained skills whatsoever. It is a plot point, however, that none of the three are precisely suited to the sorts of jobs they're being asked to perform; Leysha in particular has only been deployed because Boston's actual vampire intelligence agent is MIA from the start of the game.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Second Inquisition, Special Affairs Division, and technically the Society of Leopold (which is an arm of the Vatican) are all these.
  • Interface Spoiler: Halsey being not only real but Leysha's sire is pretty easy to infer if you read the codex because it reveals she was sired in the same year as Leysha and is one generation lower.
  • Knight Templar:
    • The Second Inquisition uses utterly foul methods to achieve their aims, including kidnapping, torture, and murder of innocents.
    • Monsignor Stanford is someone who believes any and all methods are justified in the destruction of the undead.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Hartford Chantry specializes in erasing memories and leaving their victims an Empty Shell.
  • Mercy Kill: Leysha can eventually give one of these to Quentin King III.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Hilda was branded by Quentin King for the actions of Emem after the latter killed her assailant.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Should she survive the ordeal with duping the Anarchs for Iversen and the one-woman infiltration mission, Emem can choose to leave the Camarilla in disgust, not caring that she'll be hunted down for the insult.
  • Mordor: The Tremere Hartford chantry has a prison dimension where they keep their homeless and Kindred prisoners to drain at their leisure. It is a bunch of dungeon cells surrounding a bottomless glowing red pit. It also drains the memory and will to live of the people involved.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Much of the first act of the game alludes to something having happened at a party but no one being to talk about it. invoked The party was hit by the Second Inquisition and most of the vampires in Boston killed. By the time you actually get to see the aftermath of the destruction, even its Nightmare Fuel scene is less than probably the image you built in your head.
  • Rape as Drama: Emem's relationship with Hilda fell apart when she suffered a forcible blood bonding that the Primogen told Emem to keep quiet about.
  • Religion is Magic: Monsignor Stanford has True Faith, which lets him hurt vampires in ways that normally aren't possible, such as burning them with a cross or incinerating Galeb with a prayer if he fails the final confrontation.
  • The Reveal: At the end of the Red Salon mission, if Leysha found certain patient records scattered around the level and wins a confrontation with her own subconscious, she recovers her real memories and learns the truth: Halsey isn't a hallucination; she's Leysha's real daughter. Their real names are Juliette and Marie, they were Richard’s patients in France before the war, and he took them with him when the Nazis invaded. Richard ended up Embracing Juliette during the voyage to Boston to keep her from dying of typhoid, and she later killed her mother during a hunger frenzy, forcing Richard to sire her with Juliette's blood, making Marie her own daughter’s Childe. He then altered both their memories and gave them false identities ("Halsey" and "Leysha") to cover up the messy circumstances of their embrace, then spent years gaslighting Leysha into thinking Halsey was just a figment of her imagination as an extra layer of secrecy.
  • The Scapegoat: Journey fears she's going to be made into this when the party she arranges goes disastrously wrong.
  • Scars Are Forever: Midway through the game, Galeb is captured by the Society of Leopold and is brutally tortured by Monsignor Stanford. He eventually breaks out when the Beast takes over, but not before his entire right arm, the right side of his face is scorched almost to the bone and he's rendered blind in one eye. However, Vampire: The Masquerade lore means he will heal eventually; he just needs time and blood. Galeb himself hints at this when he can downplay his injuries to Feng, stating that vampire bodies are different.
  • Significant Anagram: Leysha is an anagram of her daughter's name, Halsey. Turns out they're both fake names they were given as part of their Richard’s efforts to cover up the true circumstances of their Embrace.
  • Soulless Bedroom: A substantial amount of insight into Berel's personality can be gained by the fact that his bedroom consists of a rack of identical suits, a overlarge television set, and the bed.
  • Suicide Mission: The final act tasks Iversen delegates to Galeb and Emem certainly qualify, and they can call it out. Leysha also goes through one but it's self-imposed.
  • Torture Always Works: Sadly, you must pass various checks to avoid spilling valuable information to Inquisitor Stanford.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes:
    • When you finally meet the Second Inquisition they have massacred humans and vampires alike at the Unification Party, burning Kindred alive while staked and harvesting their organs.
    • The Second Inquisition murders Jason Moore's wife and proceeds to kidnap his daughter in order to force him to give up his client list.
    • Monsignor Stanford tortures Galeb with true faith in hopes of convincing him that he is a monster who deserves to be punished.