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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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hero Antagonist: The Second Inquisition is an alliance of military, federal agents, and Catholic priests trying to break the hold of an undead conspiracy on Boston, taking on monsters with terrifying powers armed only with faith, meticulous planning, and massive firepower. The player characters are some of those undead conspirators.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Villain Protagonist: All three main characters are inhuman blood-sucking abominations that victimize normal humans on a nightly basis.