STAFF REVIEW of Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong (Xbox One)

Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
by Heather Webster

Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong Box art I'm sure that everyone at some point in time has thought 'what if Vampires were actually living among us?'. Are they really what we have been led to believe? Well now is a chance to find out as you take over and play as these monsters in high society where the lines between real and supernatural are blurred. Enter the dark world of Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, a narrative based role-playing video game developed by Big Bad Wolf and published by Nacon. Based on White Wolf Publishing's tabletop role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade, and part of the larger World of Darkness series, Swansong is all about the choices you make to determine the fate of three main vampires and the secret society known as the Boston Camarilla.

The narrative brings you into the secret society to play as three different vampires all 100+ years old, each from different clans, and don't share the views of the Camarilla. The “heroes” of the story are Galeb, an intimidating man of clan Ventrue; Emem, a "seductive Amazon" of clan Toreador; and Leysha of clan Malkavian who relies on spreading madness and supernatural insight. All three of our heroes are tasked with the job of investigating a shootout that happened at a party.

Each hero has their own abilities that are upgradable to suit your approach to uncovering the truth. Use their powers to find the happy balance between the human and animal sides where every decision you make determines how the story progresses, so make sure you choose wisely. You also choose whether you are intimidating, stealthy or seductive, no matter which you choose the important thing is satiating your hunger for blood.

Meet Hazel Iverson, known as the prince of the Boston Camarilla, who leads with an iron fist and is insistent on asserting her power and gaining the respect of the Masquerade, also known as the vampiric law, whose purpose is to ensure the human population never discovers the existence of the creatures of the night. Hazel is the one who sends you to your missions, not including side quests from others.

As I mentioned above. you get to choose the direction of the story, the downside of this is you must pay for the consequences of what you choose during the investigation and also during social interactions with other characters. Make sure you keep your wits about you when choosing your responses, as some of the consequences select the fate of your hero and the Boston Camarilla, some of which might not be apparent until later.

When I first saw the trailer for Swansong I was pretty impressed with the graphics, but upon spending more time within its dark world and playing it, the graphics for Swansong revealed to me that they were not the main focus of the game. There are some positives when it comes to its aesthetics though, like how well the environments are detailed with lighting that gives the world a bit of life. There's also many points of interest to look at relative to the investigation which helps keep you interested in what you're doing. While playing I did suffer from a handful of graphical glitches where textures just failed and all I saw was blues and greens pixelated on some character's faces for a large portion of dialogue.

These glitches combined with various other misses in the game made the whole experience fall short for me. The long story dialogue was also a bit of a problem for me as it felt they went on forever and overstaying its welcome, so I often found myself not paying attention and just pressing the button to continue until there was a choice to make. The sound design is about on the same level as the graphics for me, as I enjoyed the mix of jazz, hip hop and rock, but there was a distinct lack of environmental sound design.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong is sure to be enjoyed by fans of the genre who will enjoy their time with a narrative heavy experience. At the same time, seasoned RPG players might have higher expectations than they will receive from Swansong. To be more specific, if you're a fan of tabletop RPGs or have pre-existing knowledge of the predecessors then I'm not sure Swansong will be for you. I have overall enjoyed Swansong despite all my complaints as it has a well thought-out storyline and great mystery to it, which ultimately is what truly kept me interested in continuing the journey but it is quite expensive when not on sale.

**Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series S**

Overall: 5.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.5 / 10
Sound: 5.5 / 10


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