Vampire: The Masquerade is a really old title that hasn’t shown itself in the gaming sphere for years now. However, there’s new hope for it as the reveal of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 set the game in motion quite a bit from this title. Today, though, we wouldn’t be talking about Bloodlines 2.
Instead, we’re here to talk about Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong.
What Is Vampire: The Masquerade?
For those not in the know, Vampire: The Masquerade is a tabletop role-playing game (RPG) released in 1991 by Mark Rein-Hagen of White Wolf Publishing. Those in the know would also say that Vampire: The Masquerade is the first of several tabletop RPGs from White Wolf Publishing set in the World of Darkness.
The Tabletop game is set in a “goth-punk” fiction version of our current world, with the players being vampires. The vampires in the game are known as the Kindred, and the game has players deal with their vampiric nature, other vampires, and various vampire hunters.
Vampire: The Masquerade’s main premise is the fact that the Kindred are beholden to a thirst inside of them called the Beast. The Beast is an all-consuming predatory drive inside all Kindred that drives them to do whatever it takes to survive. This means that when it rises, the Beast beholden Kindred will do things that they normally wouldn’t do.
After all, survival is the one thing paramount to all things. Depending on the situation, anger, bloodlust, thirst for blood, and dangerous threats can cause the Beast to rise. Thus, it’s up to the players to not only control this predatory drive but also deal with other things that the Kindred need to deal with. These can range from other vampires, vampire hunters, to threats to their masquerade.
In addition to Vampire: The Masquerade, the World of Darkness setting has four other tabletop games as well:
- Mage: The Ascension
- Changeling: The Dreaming
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse
- Wraith: The Oblivion
What Is Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong?
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is an upcoming narrative role-playing game (RPG) published by Nacon and created by Big Bad Wolf. The game is slated for release on PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS 4 and 5, and the Nintendo Switch in May 2022.
The game is part of the Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop RPG created by White Wolf Publishing.
‘Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong’ Game Preview
Gameplay, Controls, and Game Modes
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is designed as a narrative RPG. This means that a player’s various choices throughout the game will have massive implications on the game’s story. The various characters each have their motivations and plans throughout the game, their desires competing and fighting with each other. After all, they’re vampires and are thus beholden only to themselves and their sects. If their competing interests were to be aligned, then they’ll work together. If not, well, that’s where their abilities as vampires come in.
Swansong has three characters that players can use throughout the game: Emem, a vampire from clan Toreador; Galeb of clan Ventrue; and lastly, Leysha of clan Malkavian. Each of these three vampires has its unique abilities both natural and supernatural, and it’s up to the player to use them to great effect. For now, we have no idea what these abilities would be since Big Bad Wolf only showed brief character trailers of the three of them. However, looking at their clans might offer some insights on how they’ll play in the game.
Controls-wise, we don’t know much about how we’ll be controlling our three Kindred protagonists. We also don’t know of any other game modes other than the single-player campaign. We’ll just have to wait and see how these things pan out when the game’s released this year.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is set in the World of Darkness, as we’ve already mentioned. What we haven’t said is when and where on the setting this takes place.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong takes place a few years after London, and one of the biggest centers of Vampire life has fallen. In addition to this, a lot of the Vampire Elders have either died or disappeared, leaving a really big power vacuum. All in all, the 21st century is not a good time to be a vampire.
Luckily for all of them, they have a bit of hope. Boston still stands as a bastion for the Vampires to gather around. In addition to the new leadership of the Boston Camarilla with Hazel Iversen, they now stand to usher in a new age. The new Prince (yes, she’s called a prince) wants to strengthen the Camarilla by bringing Hartford, another vampire hotspot, and Boston together. This will allow the Camarilla to ensure the safety of Vampires in the Northeastern US as well as ensure their survival.
We already know of the three Vampires that the players will follow throughout the game. However, we don’t know what their motivations are. To know this, we have to look at the clans they belong to, and how they interact with the Camarilla.
The first Kindred clan we need to talk about is the Toreador, a vampire clan known for being the most sensual and seductive of all the vampires. They’re responsible for the legends of vampires being creatures of seduction and beauty. They’re artists, actors and actresses, graceful dancers, devoted sculptors, and masterful painters. They appreciate beauty in all forms and guises and above all else, pursue it endlessly.
The Toreador are, above all else, incredibly concerned with the pursuit of beauty and consider it their main purview. They, however, have differing opinions about what “real art” really is and the age of cinema, the internet, and the TV just made it even worse. Their gatherings always tend to devolve into bickering and shouting matches about various art styles and heated words can lead to bloody fights.
Still, they are a cornerstone of the Camarilla and will do their part in keeping the Masquerade whole. Emem, their agent, is stated to be supernaturally beautiful even against other Toreador Kindred, calling her their “Amazon.” This means that Emem would be a seductive vampire that will beguile her targets with her charms.
The Ventrue is a clan of Vampires with the proudest ancestry of them all. Honor is their one goal and above all else, they don’t break their word. Noblesse Oblige is pretty much tantamount to them, as they believe, genuinely, that they know what’s best for all Vampires and Humans in the world.
As you can probably tell, the Ventrue usually embrace (which means turn into vampires) Nobles and other blue-blooded individuals. Back then, if you were a royal from a blue-blooded family, chances are you’re Kindred of the Ventrue clan. Above all else, the Ventrue are leaders of men, knowingly and wholeheartedly living by their duties and chivalry — at least back then. Now, they’re CEOs, politicians, and other powerful men of influence.
Still, they, along with the Toreador, support the Camarilla but for different reasons. The Toreador depends on the Camarilla because they ensure that the facades of grace and civility that the Masquerade keeps remain. They do, after all, value beauty above all else.
The Ventrue, on the other hand, have a vested interest in keeping the Masquerade, and thus the Camarilla in effect. After all, their power depends on ensuring their control of not only other Kindred but on Humanity. Thus, they work for the Camarilla as somewhat like hitmen, ensuring that the Masquerade is kept by any means necessary. This usually means intimidation, bribery, and maybe the occasional assassinations to make the problems go away.
With just those things, you can probably guess what Galeb can do in this game. He’s already a pretty intimidating man to look at. Combine this with his Vampirism and his skills as one of the Ventrue’s many “Cleaners,” and you have a very potent asset.
Last but not least are the Malkavians, who are insane. Why this is the case is unknown, but this insanity allows them to gain particular and uncanny insight into the world itself. This manifests as prophecies, visions, and portents that can sometimes be very dangerous for the Masquerade as a whole.
Thus, they’re mostly tolerated as necessary existence, but a lot of the other vampire clans keep a wary eye on them. After all, you don’t know what goes on in the mind of the insane, and you don’t know what they’ll do or who they’ll tell. Combine this with the secret of the Masquerade and the whole Vampire society, this can lead to some pretty disastrous results. These usually manifest as “pranks,” and they can range from a silly joke to oftentimes sadistic and disturbing nightmare fuel.
As of right now, the Malkavians have split into two very distinct sects, each with its agenda. The first are those that were affected by the so-called “Great Prank” — their initial insanity isn’t as apparent, but they’re there. This usually manifests as hallucinations, OCD, and the like. The second isn’t affected in any way like the Great Prank and is crazier than their “saner” siblings. They rip entrails off humans to see the future and physically and psychologically abuse their victims.
With these words, you can probably tell what Leysha can do with her vampiric abilities. A Vampire with the sight, but coupled with deep insanity.
Graphics-wise, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong looks gorgeous. The various areas are visually stunning, the characters look great, and overall, we can fully expect a good experience when it comes to visuals. Given that Big Bad Wolf studios are using Unreal Engine, it’s pretty much a given.
Swansong has a pretty bopping soundtrack based on what was shown in the game’s various trailers. For now, though, those trailers are our only examples of Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong’s soundtrack. We don’t even know who’s in charge of the sound design yet.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong vs Similar Games
Now that we’ve talked about what to expect from Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, let’s talk about other games like it.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal is the enhanced release of the original Persona 5 with new characters, storylines, and a lot more Persona for the players to use. The usual Persona gameplay loop remains, though, as the player will constantly go towards the Metaverse to change the hearts of people.
In addition to the usual dungeon crawling, the player will also do the usual things a high-school student will do. This means studying, getting a part-time job, hanging out with friends, et cetera. Each of these things can lead to some really good benefits; for example, getting a part-time job gives money that can be used to buy new items. Hanging out with friends can increase their confidante level and unlock a new Persona for the main character to use.
Mass Effect Series
Next on the list is the Mass Effect series, where the consequences of your choices can lead to big disasters. Above all else, if you don’t do your best in your interactions with the other characters, your ship, your friends, and the player character will die. The games will always have several choices that will correspond to either Paragon or Renegade actions. These actions can then lead to either good or bad things depending on the situation.
This part of the game is what made it great for the fans — the choices leading to either joy or despair, and the fact that your interactions with your companions matter. And above all else, your choices mean something. Sadly, they didn’t plan that out on the third game in the series, but it still applies on Mass Effect 1 and 2.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Last but not least is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This entry made its way to this list because it has the Illuminati in it. That’s it. The premise of the game’s plot is almost similar to Swansong that it’s criminal to not include the game into this list.
Gameplay-wise, there are going to be some similarities between Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong. This is because Deus Ex: Human Revolution also has skills and abilities that the player can use to improve Adam Jensen’s skills. This, alongside the overall premise between the two games, is kind of interesting, to say the least.
Should You Be Excited for Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong?
The short answer is yes. If you’re someone who wants to see how stories unfold from the perspectives of the people with stakes in the plot, then you should be excited for Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong.