20| Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines

Released: November 16th, 2004

Available On: PC

Most RPGs only focus on two settings. Either they are from a medieval era or they are science fiction. Whether they are of the Western or Japanese variety, it's almost always either going to involve dragons or space cruisers. It is very uncommon to have a role playing game take place in the modern era. For this alone, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines turns heads. But add on the fact that it was made by Black Isle veterans and it used the, then uncommon, theme of vampires, and on top of all that using the then hot Steam engine, it made role playing gamers stop in their tracks. Those who dared to test the jungles of digital distribution found a role playing title rich with core role playing elements. A true three dimensional successor to Black Isle's role playing behemoths of yesteryears. Unfortunately, the game didn't sell too hot. In the long run the studio went bankrupt after a string of underperforming titles. However, it was not without all of their games becoming cult classics. The most well known one being Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.

Even today the game seems just as popular as ever. With the title being talked about on a regular basis whenever WRPGs, or even just RPGs in general are brought up. But what exactly makes Troika's outing stand out so much even today? In an age of Witchers and Deus Exes, titles that are far more modern it doesn't really make sense that this title is still so yearned on. However, once one plays the game it becomes pretty obvious. The simplest way to explain it is that the game is arguably the best representation of a core WRPG in the three dimensional sphere. Sure games like Fallout 4 and Skyrim are certainly ambitious when it comes to map size and the number of quests they offer. However, when it comes to making choices or altering world around the player in a personal manner the games truly lack. In contrast, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is a very personal game. The choices the player makes throughout the title not only has rippling effects to change the overall arc and story, but also alliances they can form and even the lives of acquaintances and strangers.

The game begins as the player selects which race of vampire they want to be. Depending on which they chose, they have different strengths and weaknesses, and can partake in only specific quests or even storylines. Once the player is finished setting things up, they are left to embark in the stunning metropolis of Santa Monica, California. The game is set up in a free roaming map that the main character explores to discover unique locations, events, and characters. The characters players come across results in interwoven quests with connected storylines. It is up to the choice of the player of how the story will play out depending on their decisions.

Now in text, there really much that sets this game apart from most other well done RPGs. But when playing the game everything just fits so well. Most RPGs can't seem to figure out in having a open world that truly feels alive and full of discovery. Quests that truly feel that the player is making an impact in real events around them. However, this game nails these things perfectly. On top of that, the game has very unique gothic type theme to it. Today, the vampire craze that begin in the late 2000s has recently ended. But before vampires turned into a guilty sex pleasure for girls in their teens and twenties, they were seen as very clliche horror monsters. Troika's title mixed things up by bringing the vampires into a much more modern, urban, and hip atmosphere. To simplify things, most JRPGs clearly focus too much on targeting teenagers. In contrast, most WRPGs focus too much on targeting adults well into their thirties and beyond. This leaves many people who are in their twenties and early thirties without anything that focuses on them. JRPGs seem too child-like and angst, while WRPGs are too dry and pretentious. Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines finds itself targeting those in young adulthood very well with its focus on stumbling upon social themes, but divorcing itself from child-like drama or life long regrets. It isn't the fact that the actual gameplay allows a lot of freedom, but the setting the player finds themselves in. You are twenty-something year old without parents to answer to or children to take care of. The world is your playground with the city as your playpen. I feel that is an accurate deduction of why the game is so beloved.

Of course this isn't to say the game doesn't have a dark and creepy atmosphere. The game has a wonderful gloomy artstyle with dark tones and saturated colors. The environment is dirty and depraved. And the soundtrack is top notch. However, at the end of the day I feel that the two things that make this game so beloved is the focus on appealing to the lifestyle of twenty-something year olds (as well as a good share of those in their thirties), but the fact that it showed an alternate route of where 3D WRPGs could have gone. It seems that most 3D WRPGs today focus on having a large environment with lots of quests at the expense of consequential choice based gameplay. Sure there are some titles like The Witcher that show developers that they can have their cake and eat it too, but they are incredibly rare. Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines went against the tide in many aspects, and as a result it stands out today in many many ways, and will continue to do so in the future.

Posted by Punk Rebel Ecks Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:44:15 (comments: 7)
 
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:50:32
Aren't they doing a sequel? I think I read it somewhere.
 
Tue, 25 Oct 2016 02:27:49
gamingeek said:
Aren't they doing a sequel? I think I read it somewhere.

They were working on it. The director of the original posted how they planned to make an entire trilogy or something simlar. Unfortuantely, the game didn't do too well and the studio went bankrupt a few years after its release.

 
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 16:27:44
I still remember this Graphic adventure with vampires I played in the 90s.
 
Thu, 27 Oct 2016 22:42:59
I think this was one of the first games I ever bought on Steam....and I'm still yet to play it. I couldn't get it to run on my old PC for some reason but I think it works on my current one.
One of these days...
 
Thu, 27 Oct 2016 22:55:19
Back in college when I was in my brief goth phase I knew a couple people who did Masquerade LARPing. They were pretty fucking nuts.
 
Fri, 28 Oct 2016 02:14:14
edgecrusher said:
I think this was one of the first games I ever bought on Steam....and I'm still yet to play it. I couldn't get it to run on my old PC for some reason but I think it works on my current one.

One of these days...

What are you waiting for!?

 
Fri, 28 Oct 2016 03:18:14
Punk Rebel Ecks said:

What are you waiting for!?

A year off. Lol

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