Whilst waiting for Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines 2, Big Bad Wolf released a Vampiric Detective RPG Titled Vampire the Masquerade Swansong.
A game filled with decisions, emotional moments, great storytelling, and alcoves filled with human vessels??
The game starts off with a setting in Boston, where a vampire massacre has occurred at a party hosted by the new Vampire Prince, Hazel Iverson.
Hazel then sends off three of her loyal subjects to find out what exactly has occurred at the party and delist all conspiracy theories created by this massacre.
This puts you in control of three characters you will be controlling throughout the game, Galeb the Mercenary type 300-Year-old Ventrue, Hazel’s Right-hand man, Emem the Century-old Toreador a former Jazz Diva who moonlights as an emissary, and finally Leysha a Malkavian seeress that has a reputation for being able to see the future through visions. Using these three protagonists it falls on you, the player to unravel the events that occurred that evening.
On your first control of each character, you get faced with a choice on what skillsets you’d like them to have or completely ignore them and decide after each chapter you complete on where best to allocate skill points.
These skill points will help you play the game and are vital, as the game works solely on dialogue and investigation. This means throughout the game you’ll be faced with choices that your skill points are set in, such as either being able to hack a door or a laptop, or being more versed in conversation and push more information out of a character you come across in the game.
In most other vampire-style games, they’re normally presented as monsters that rip humans to shreds, in Swansong it all comes down to Conversations and deductive reasoning. Their powers come to life only to manipulate dialogue. They will use intimidation, persuasion, and psychology to move the conversations in new directions. If both you and your dialogue partner use the same level of speech or intimidation the game then settles this with a dice roll, this happens surprisingly often and yes, each loss does feel bad.
When not presented with dialogue gameplay, the vampires instead study rooms or crime scenes such as by the party, this then brings the other half of your skill points into play, with needed information or clues being hidden behind locked doors, and laptop screens or even safes. Big Bad Wolf did a really impressive job here by forcing the players to think things through before making a choice or assumption, forcing the players to read through documents, consulting evidence multiple times, and following the narrative to find clues in an area.
It’s also worth mentioning that using skills such as dialogue options or detective work does drain your skill meter, this can only be replenished by draining human vessels in alcoves, a hidden room away from prying eyes that lets you drain a humans blood to refill your meter.
Final thoughts: Vampire the Masquerade Swansong forgoes your usual style of combat and replaces it with a dialogue/detective narrative that works really well. I’d personally say that this feels like a breath of fresh air for the series, and hope that Big Bad Wolf graces us with a sequel to Swansong in the future.