LifeisXbox’s Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong review | Developer Big Bad Wolf, who you may know from the game The Council, has released Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, a game that is perfect for those who love Life is Strange. It has the same level of storytelling and engaging characters! For this videogame Big Bad Wolf works together with publisher NACON to release a new interactive story in the World of Darkness series. By now most LifeisXbox readers know, I have a huge weakness for games with a good storyline. And let this really be one where the story is as explosive as New Year’s Eve fireworks! Unfortunately, there are also some downsides, but thanks to the many positive elements, I give this game the LifeisXbox recommended label! Your interest is now as great as blood for vampires?
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- You really bite into the story | Once a vampire gets its teeth into you, you are under its complete control. In fact, it’s the same with the story of this game, it gets its teeth into you and you can’t possibly stop wondering what’s coming next. I must say right away that you will have to read a lot of text to be fully immersed in the story. The story does not take novice players into account at all, but fortunately, the developer has sufficiently explained every possible unknown word in a codex. This means that you will have to pause the game regularly to look up an unknown word. Things such as Primogen, society, conflicts between groups or characters’ biography. I actually loved how the storytelling works, you are expected to be aware of the world or educate yourself on how things work by use of the massive codex. If you take the time for that you will be awarded a story that is simply industry-leading. Vampire: the Masquerade continues to surprise the player and introduce new elements and characters at a steady pace. Each chapter has so many outcomes and paths to follow that you have this great sense of accomplishment and freedom. Depending on your choices plot characters and new secret conspiracies can be found, or not. I have rarely seen such a game that can play out entirely different depending on your playable character relationships, dialogue choices or secrets you find while exploring environments. A crazy amount of things can be figured out by reading documents, emails or books and in many cases intelligent exploration moves forward the story in interesting ways. As a player, it really pays off to take hand-written notes, something I haven’t done in years.
- Different playable characters | You get to work with three highly developed vampires with their own background stories, personalities and desires. In terms of gameplay, there are a few differences, but it’s the way a character interacts with others that makes it so interesting. You’ll soon have a favourite, but all three are equally worthy when it comes to depth and entertainment. Also how the storylines flow together and how your decisions as a certain character have a huge influence on the other two characters is really impressive. You yourself have a lot of influence on decisions, but you also have to take into account the status and motives of the vampires. You will not always agree with what will happen but the most important thing is that it completely fits into the picture of the personalities. Outside of Life is Strange, I have rarely seen such smooth and beautifully crafted character development. Truly a masterpiece in terms of story and character development.
- Dracula Sherlock | There are some pretty good Sherlock Holmes games on the Xbox market. For Sherlockians, however, I recommend this game. Unleashing your inner detective in this vampire experience will make you feel good. There are often many secrets and solutions that the player will have to discover by thinking logically or connecting disconnected facts. The environments are full of hints that the average player will not even understand or connect to anything that happens on screen. Searching birthdates on photos, and sifting through emails to understand events, and all of this is largely optional. However, there are some tough mandatory puzzles in the game that will keep you as a player stuck for a few minutes.
- No conversation is the same, even after playing the same chapter several times | There are two reasons why. The first is that all three main characters have characteristics that you can choose at the beginning of your adventure. These traits determine whether you can select certain dialogues or whether you are better on a social level than your conversation partner. The second reason is that depending on decisions you make in the storyline, new dialogues or completely new topics of conversation also emerge. For replayability, this is therefore an added value.
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is an okapi | Ever seen an okapi in real life? What a strange creature! Beautiful appearance but really absurd. That’s the case with the visuals. If you played Hitman you’ll know what to expect in terms of details and realistic environments, there are some crazy visuals on the show but with a bit of jankyness. Facial expressions, more on that soon are completely out of sync with the other graphics and some parts are less well visually finished. But overall I was very surprised at how beautiful the game can be if you manage to see past the extremely bad facial animations and average animations in general. That’s why a completely unrelated okapi started to pop up in my head while playing this game. It is so beautiful but you see some weird parts on it that don’t seem to add up.
- We need water, vampires need blood | Obviously, in a vampire game we’re going to suck blood from humans… and rats. This hunger for warm human blood lowers a vampire ability bar so you can continue to do some badass moves like teleporting, changing your appearance or tracking smells. It is as simple as eating ice cream on a hot summer day to suck people dry. A tad disappointing, a slightly more difficult gameplay action would have been welcome. People around never know the vampire act, you have to find a safe point to lead a victim too. That last part you don’t do yourself but is made clear with a short cutscene. Once your teeth are in the body, you must hold down R2 to control the amount of blood. If you suck too much blood the person dies and you want to avoid that because it has negative consequences for a suspicion meter if it gets too high it is more difficult to win in conversations.
What we Disliked
Terrible facial animations | In general, you expect decent facial expressions during cutscenes. Especially when it comes to this type of game where dialogues are extremely important for gameplay. It regularly proved to be a laughable element that something emotional was happening but the characters’ faces were depicting something completely different. It may be that vampires are emotionless monsters but that is no excuse. There is actually no excuse, the developers should have paid much more attention to this! When two people are in a heated argument or they are terrified, it is not logical for the face to linger with an expression that they are sunbathing in Hawaii with a cocktail in their hand.
Not everything is polished | Another less pleasant comparison with Life is Strange, it features some polishing issues. Dialogue lines without voice happened frequently with the character Emem, animations aren’t always working properly and there are some very noticeable texture loading issues during cutscenes.
How long to beat the story | 20 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Unsure as some Achievements are still hidden
Please consider supporting us!
Founder | Editor-in-chief | Social Media Manager
Gaming is a passion and I wanted to share my Xbox enthusiasm. That’s why I started LifeisXbox, to make sure gamers all around the world know what games they should buy or avoid. I would like to thank you for visiting my website. Your support is very welcome and I hope you stick around!