Remember when the world was crazy for vampires? Shortly after the initial zombie craze, amidst Twilight-laden parody and ridiculousness, vampires had their time in the spotlight. There's still a very large following, as evidenced by the upcoming "Vampire - The Masquerade: Swansong", but the story here runs much deeper than most realize.
I could spend days diving into the lore, but World of Darkness can be summed up pretty easily: If you've seen an Underworld movie, you pretty much know what the setting is: Vampires, Werewolves, a modern setting, a world that is perpetually a little depressing and seriously edgy. In fact, it's so similar that the publisher of WoD, White Wolf, has in the past sued the creators of Underworld several times over for alleged copyright infringement. Vampire The Masquerade is one of the subsets of this world, allowing players to play the titular vampires, while attempting to stay concealed from human eyes (hence, the “Masquerade”).
I have a personal interest in this; I have long played the tabletop World of Darkness games (Including Vampire) with a dedicated group for years on and off. Getting to build these characters that are both extensions of myself and allowing me to roleplay my personality in ways I wouldn't have otherwise provides a freedom and learning experience that is hard to replicate. For someone like myself who is naturally pretty introverted and was skeptical to even open up to a tabletop gaming experience, it really blew my mind how effective and fun it could be.
Does the sound of Vampires (or "Kindred" as they're called here) having internal political conflicts with one another and scheming to take the most power sound appealing? How about learning the difference between the Brujah, a clan of vicious, aggressive almost beast-like vampires who will take what they want without anyone's permission, and the Ventrue, a clan who has established an impressive amount of order and society to really elevate their pride in being vampires? (This is a massive oversimplification, please don't @ me).
Swansong takes this concept and plants it in modern-day Boston, showing you the perspective of 3 different Vampires from different clans (Ventrue, Toreador, and Malkavian for those curious), while promising to tackle the age-old video game pastime of difficult choices that affect the outcome. It promises to also give you some in-depth investigative sleuthing gameplay that can hopefully give us the Batman detective experience we always wanted, or maybe something more akin to "Return of the Obra Dinn"'s puzzled solving.
While video games by nature are generally going to be a little less open-ended than traditional tabletop games, Swansong is attempting to pull much of that in, going so far as to include a character sheet for statting out your vampires, while focusing on the unique gameplay offered by video games as a medium. The recent developer demo released looks promising, as a good balance of source material and innovative gameplay. I’m hoping for Life Is Strange/Detroit: Become Human style storytelling with a bit more active and action-oriented gameplay.
For anyone looking for a different take on the same setting, another game recently released in the Vampire The Masquerade universe, Blood Hunt. Released for PS5 and PC, it is a free-to-play Battle Royale. I’ve been having fun with that and its unique take on the BR formula, including needing to feed on humans for stat boosts, maintaining the Masquerade and not using your powers directly in front of humans, while regretting that I just am not good at BRs.
Swansong will be released on May 19th 2022, Check out the trailer below for some gameplay.