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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.
I have heard about this game after watching a review of it on Atop the Fourth Wall, and since playing a blood-sucking creature of the night has always been something appealing to me, it wasn't long before I found a way to get the game. Now I have played it, finished, and frankly, I am glad I did. This is definitely one of my favourite RPGs, along with Dragon Age and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is a great game, and got me really interested in the World of Darkness. The various vampire clans you can play are all distinct and original, and can genuinely change the way you have to play, rather than just being cosmetic. The characters are fun and memorable, and some of them are really well-developped (the Voerman sisters deserving a special mention). The game is dark yet funny, finding a good balance between horror and humor. And while I can understand some players being frustrated by the final parts being mostly fight, I personally did enjoy fighting through armies of enemies.
I do, however, have some complain. Mainly about how long the game is.
I heard the game was released unfinished, and it kinda shows. While I did install the unofficial patch to correct most of the flaws, and I really did enjoy playing, in the end I felt like it ended too fast, and unlike Skyrim, there is no Playable Epilogue. This left me kinda underwhelmed, feeling like I was missing part of the game. Frankly, I am sad Troika had to close, because I really would have liked an extension, or at least a sequel.
Regardless, it's still a really good game, and I highly recommand it to any vampire fan.
You are one of the damned, a newly embraced vampire who must survive in a time where three major vampire factions are tearing at each others' throats with you caught in the middle. How do you plan to make a new life for yourself? Will you continue to hold onto your humanity as a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire? Or do you give in to your newfound powers and tear through anything that gets in your way be it humans or other Kindred?
There are several strong points in this game, the first being the story. You have a variety of choices availible to you throughout the game whether it is dealing with a certain character or trying to complete a mission. You can kill a person for threatening the Masquerade or you can persuade (verbally or through the use of Disciplines) him to leave the area and never come back. You can rush into a battleground like the Terminator and cut down all in your path or you can screw around with your enemies by sneaking through the level picking them off one by one.
The game is also a masterful blend of horror and humor. The infamous Ocean House Hotel level gives us a brief but memorable psychological horror level while the warrens gives us a level filled with jump scares as twisted beasts rush at you to tear you apart. However, the game itself is filled with humorous dialogue whether it is persuading a loud and obnoxious food critic that he's eating maggots or finding yourself arguing with a stop sign. The game has a good balance of comedy and horror, making you laugh several times in the game but never letting you forget that you are in the Crapsack World that is the old World Of Darkness.
This is definitely a game that people should play, especially if they are fans of vampires. The game gives you several choices of vampires to play as, each one giving the player a different feel of the game with their unique abilities and handicaps. Do you want to be a Nosferatu that skulks in the sewers like a nightmare waiting to spring out, a Toreador who moves among humans like the most elite of artisans, or a Gangrel that embodies the savagery of beasts? It's all here in the World Of Darkness.
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