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Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

one-armed dwarf

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This is like edgy Deus Ex, it's immersive sim with a Rob Zombie soundtrack, or if JC Denton shopped at Hot Topic. It's the most 2004 thing you'll ever play, but it manages to thread the line well enough that it stays interesting. Especially if you were into the style this game is going for, if you had like an emo or nu-metal phase or whatever. Also vampires are supposed to be edgy so it would be dumb to complain about. It's an immersive sim with all the same building blocks as Deus Ex. Social engineering skills, special combat abilities, hacking emails and picking locks type of stuff. Hack to find the password, or intimidate a guy into giving it to you. Rewarding players for thoroughly exploring levels to find unique ways to deal with things, tho the actual missions in the game are a bit of a mixed bag and not quite on a Deus Ex 1 level. You do get the standard selection of nice and dickhead dialogue choices tho, with interesting consequences which interact well enough with the game's economies (mentioned below)


It's probably more about the style and atmosphere though, and what makes it unique though is some of the other economies that exist in the game. One being your 'humanity', which goes from 0-10. You gain humanity if you help save an innocent, you lose it if you harm innocents (which can also mean stealing, not just killing), both of which can happen organically in gameplay or as a consequence of a quest decision. So if you explore thoroughly and pick the right dialogue you can remain a decent vampire, but sometimes it's not a bad idea to fall into beasthood a little bit. Maybe a guard is in the way and you don't want to engage with the terrible stealth mechanics, for instance. Flipside is you will lose out on certain dialogue options if you become more of a monster (have not seen what so far). The other thing is masquerade violations. Betraying the existence of vampires is one, feeding in plain sight can trigger that. Apparently they send vampire hunters after you and if you get 5 violations the game completely ends, or something like that, which sounds pretty hardcore to me. I don't know how you would trigger it outside of doing something incredibly stupid tho. Then obviously blood is a resource as well, used for 'casting spells' or buffing yourself. You can also feed it to other people


Its story is about vampire politics and stuff, trying to take control of LA. There's some branching story decisions it looks like depending on which of the main story factions you align with but not sure how far it goes. I picked my clan by just picking answers from a questionnaire and was assigned Tremere, not cause it seemed the most interesting but I figure it's better to sort of role play it and pick whatever suboptimal class the game throws at you. They're physically weak and good at shooting guns, hacking and blood magic which causes everyone in the vicinity to vomit blood and stuff, so you'll know me by the trail of bloody vomit and hacked emails. There's another clan called Malkavian which sees the future which apparently means their dialogue choices spoil future events in the story, which sounds like a really funny and novel idea but definitely not how I wanted to start off.


I'm way into it, I think. The technical quality of it is a mixed bag but it's pretty immersive. Anyway hopefully they pull that sequel into shape at some point.

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I read about that, as well as the clause that it could not release ahead of Half Life II, which led them to rush its release... for some reason? Then they lost a publisher, people went unpaid. You talk about games being unfinished these days but that sounds more like the game developer exploded and the disc flew out the building landed in store shelves somehow


and now the sequel is in dev hell and being handed off to a different developer, huh






I convinced a girl to give me her student loan and go around dragging random guys back to my flat for food, which is nice. The story is pretty fun and interesting, but the gameplay feels pretty straightforward. As soon as I go into a more combat oriented section I just run down hallways, turn people's brains off with mind control powers and drink their blood. Or use the skill which boosts wits and perception to shoot stuff, and do blood vomit aoes for crowd control. Then again, the real gameplay there is putting the points in things which let you do that, at the same time its cousin Deus Ex has a lot more going on in those areas and as that's the game this resembles it doesn't really hit that standard. It's possible these sections could be more fun with a slow, thoughtful creep through the environment looking for environmental solutions (keys in hidden rooms and stuff), but you don't seem to have very many interesting stealth abilities compared with combat. I've also been told that the game is impossible to beat without a combat build, so as I want to put points in social skills also I can't waste time with the up close stealth options


I prefer the world and setting to Deus Ex tho so there's that at least I'm probably curious enough to check out if there's any significant gameplay changes in other clans. Nosferatu can't even walk around freely apparently without violating the masquerade*, cause I mean look at them




So they live down in the sewers and you spend most of the whole game down there and have to learn the layout of the city from down there eating rats all day. That sounds shit! But really interesting, but also really shit! But I want to see a little bit of what it's like (to live down in the shit)


* betraying the existence of vampires

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Well, there is this mod which puts in a bunch of content and makes the game a bit more deep mechanics wise, apparently humanity has a bigger impact and more in line with the tabletop version and your vampire clan has more unique content associated with it




I don't have it installed, cause I like to keep things vanilla at least for a first playthrough (same with Morrowind and Gothic). Not sure what the recommended mods are really.


edit some of the dialogue in this is waaaaay too edgy, lol





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Struggling with this now. I may be near the end, or not, I'm not sure. But I'm finding now that the game doesn't really introduce a ton of new and exciting ideas after the Santa Monica hub (the first hub, which is excellent). I've just arrived at Chinatown


There's this big sewers gauntlet they have you do where it's like you're going down to Blighttown or something. It has that thing that some games from this era had where you can tell some of it isn't QA-ed very well. Not cause of bugs but cause of how poor quality some of it is. There's a huge maze with lots of monsters at the end and at the bottom is a door in the floor you need to go through. The key is 'somewhere' in the maze full of these monsters, but every room looks the same and there is no way to tell where you are unless you memorise the number on the signs on the wall. Which would take hours. I opened the console and entered noclip and just flew through the level to get the key.


I'd say it starts off a janky but interesting 8/10 but drifts down into feeling a bit mediocre. I wonder if that clan quest mod adds enough to improve that feeling. I think what it really needs is more interaction between its immersive sim mechanics and world/quest design. It also needs better level design cause there isn't really a single level that challenges something from Deus Ex. It has one sort of cool horror level but it's kind of a gimmick. The level design is a problem because it doesn't feel like the game is adequately rewarding how you built your character and some of the non combat skills feel underutilized as well (I'm fairly sure seduction is only good for free drinks in nightclubs)


Some of the storylines in the quests are cool though, and take unexpected directions. Would not have expected


a huge detour to track down a snuff film and then travelling under the crust of the earth to meet with a bunch of former Hollywood celebrity Nosferatu, forced to live out of sight cause of how uggo they now are

The game is weird and dark in a way that fairly regularly falls into being a bit too edgy, but it can also be pretty funny at times.


I'm still interested in the gameplay differences with Malkavian and Nosferatu, so I might do a one hub playthrough of both just to get the flavour when I'm done. I doubt the endgame would be all that different with either of them tho

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