Vampire Swansong Review: a thriller between blood and vampires

In the imagination of World of Darkness a lifeblood animated by a dark and irresistible charm flows, which even years later leads the public to regret with nostalgia Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. And while the development of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 trudges postponement after postponement, the world of darkness has returned to life in a series of spin-offs. Recently, in particular, fans have been able to climb the roofs of Prague in the battle royale of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodhunt (find ours on Everyeye Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodhunt review).

The developers of Big Bad Wolf instead they preferred to turn towards a graphic adventure to be lived through three different points of view. With Vampire the Masquerade: Swansong now available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S and PC (Epic Games Store exclusive), let’s go back to sharpening the canines, to find out what intrigues lie among the ranks of the Boston Camarilla.

The song of the Swan

The Boston Camarilla has a new ruler. Hazel Iversen, better known as the Swan, was made a prince by the main representatives of the city’s vampire clans. Some – a few – supported her out of sincere confidence in her abilities, others – most – convinced that once in her power they could control her. Unfortunately for the latter, Hazel turned out to be a far more determined prince than she had anticipated, able in a short time to squeeze the Camarilla in her iron fist.

Since he came to power, in particular, the Swan has woven a dense network of relationships with the Hartford sorcerers, with whom it is preparing to sign a historic alliance. After colossal efforts by vampire diplomacy, the time has finally come to celebrate the reaching of an agreement between the parties. Darkness falls and the members of the Camarilla adorn themselves with sparkling clothes, ready for a long night of excess between goblets full of blood and promises of ever more widespread control of US society. But these are broken dreams: suddenly, a Red Code alerts the entire community of creatures of the night. The Masquerade is in danger, and the Boston vampires are under attack.

In an attempt to understand if the threat comes from the outside or from the inside

of the Camarilla, Hazel Iversen decides to rely on three allies. Emem, a seductive Toreador at the head of a network of clubs appreciated by every Clan, is the first personality we meet. The vampire is joined in a short time by the mysterious one Leysha and the shady Galeb. The first is undoubtedly the most intriguing character of the trio: with a past shrouded in mystery, she is accompanied by a vampire girl and is able to welcome visions relating to future events. The second is instead a cynical, centennial vampire, loyal to the Prince – whoever he is – and willing to place the security of the Camarilla in front of his every personal desire, even if deeply rooted in his impious soul.

Vampires who do not seduce

From these premises, an articulated path of intrigue and conspiracy branches out, which the player sees alternate driving each of the three characters. The transition between Emem, Leysha and Galeb is not free, but strictly regulated by Big Bad Wolves, who divided the title into a series of acts consisting of three chapters, one for each protagonist. As we investigate the origins of the Red Code that hit Boston, we will obviously find ourselves progressively discovering the past of our alter-egos as well.

Unfortunately, all this proceeds with a somewhat fluctuating pace. Especially in the first third of Vampire the Masquerade: Swansong, the narrative struggles to take off, with exploratory and narrative sequences that fail to really engage the player. A shame, given that in the second half the general plot becomes much more stimulating, taking on the nuances of a more gripping dark fantasy thriller.

As for the personal vicissitudes of Emem and Galeb, it is painful to see how their dilemmas do not really manage to generate doubts or uncertainties in the player, with our run that has advanced without us really being able to empathize with their destiny. As already mentioned, a lot more intriguing is the storyline of Leyshawhich moves along tracks that are certainly darker and more fascinating, between betrayals and continuous games of mirrors.

As with any self-respecting graphic adventure, the core of Vampire the Masquerade: Swansong rests upon a constant succession of multiple choice dialogues, between small and big decisions that manage to perceptibly influence the fate of the three characters – who could also lose their lives during their missions – and of the Boston Camarilla as a whole. Just in a good representation of the so-called butterfly Effect in fact lies the main merit of Vampire the Masquerade: Swansongwhich proposes accordingly an extensive review of very different epilogues between them.

An uncertain realization

However, a considerable amount of shortcomings counterbalances this value, among which a GDR component stands out. it fails to assume a truly coherent structure.

In the course of our investigations, we will be able to collect a series of experience points, which can then be spent to customize the profile of Emem, Galeb and Leysha. We are talking about parameters such as intimidation, rhetoric, wisdom or the ability to interact with technological tools, but also more supernatural abilities, which allow for example to have visions connected to specific objects or to assume the appearance of a particular NPC. On paper, this is an intriguing idea, which evidently finds its origin in the paper version of Vampire the Masquerade. All this however loses its charm the moment he realizes that the opportunities to use the special abilities independently are not so numerousor when a vicious circle between lack of experience points and difficulty in optimizing a character ends up blocking many of the dialogue options theoretically available to the player.

To prevent an effective identification of the players in the three protagonists we think then a sub-standard graphics sector proposed in recent years by the gender they belong to. The faces of our three vampires, but also of the NPCs, in fact remain inexpressive for most of the time, with little incisive, if not non-existent, facial animations. Even the animations in general do not shine for quality, with the movements of Emem, Galeb and Leysha that are placed far from the lethal dark sinuosity that should distinguish a vampire of the Camarilla.

The setting of Vampire the Masquerade: Swansong for its part, overall manages to return the gloomy mood of World of Darkness. Exploring the various areas of Boston in which the vampire thriller unfolds, you can in fact come across a couple of locations with a rather inspired concept, all without forgetting an appreciable inclusion of macabre and at times violent details.

In a particular sequence, for example, the massacre that we will find ourselves in front of will put a strain on the self-control of our vampire: if we can not calm his mind, the latter will be assailed by a growing hunger for fresh blood, which we will be forced to meet with one of the humans present on the scene. The hunger parameter it is in fact one of the few circumstances that remind you that you are driving a lethal creature of the night, which if not adequately fed will not be in a position to use its powers to the maximum, resulting in the impossibility of having the upper hand in verbal confrontations.

Concluding note for an element that has severely tested our tolerance during the experience with Vampire the Masquerade: Swansongthat is to say the size of the subtitles. Dubbed in English, the title has a very well done localization in Italian, but if you play on a medium-sized TV be prepared to have to struggle a lot to be able to read it. The subtitles – as well as all the in-game texts – are in fact very small and, at least at the moment, there is no patch available that allows you to customize the size.

Vampire Swansong Review: a thriller between blood and vampires