Alrighty! So I recently had the pleasant surprise to turn on Facebook and be informed that Whitewolf Publishing has released not one but two new games based on existing licenses within the World of Darkness. Now I am not sure you are aware, but I happen to be a big fan of World of Darkness. The games in question are based on Mage: The Ascension and Vampire: The Masquarade. I took the liberty of buying the game “Vampire: Prelude” and have played through it to one of its MANY endings. All for the purposes of being able to provide this review for you.
The basic premise of the game is that you learn and interact in the story through a virtual cell phone your character interacts with in the game. Through texts (SMS) and media messages, you get to pick your actions by choosing your responses to various texts. Pay close attention, though, because what you say is what happens, as you are both storyteller and player in this game. The actions you choose unfold the story in very different ways, similar to the old “Choose your own adventure” books, Zork series, or the Crossroads series. Time passes with each text, and the action you choose modifies how much time goes by. Why is this important, you may ask? Well, the clock is ticking based on your actions, and more so it comes into play as you must deal with the sun to some degree.
In this game you play as a clanless (though it does show major Toreador traits) thin-blooded vampire by the name of Case. The story is written in such a way as to leave Case’s gender and sexual orientation semi-ambiguous, but it does appear to me, though I may be wrong due to my choices in game, canonically to be a male. Poor Case is a shovel head, a vampire who was turned but kinda left to figure things out on his own. Worse yet, he is for the majority of the time stricken with babyteeth, or a fangless vampire. If this is from his turning coming on slowly or due to his thin blooded nature is unclear, but it adds to his confusion at his current state. Your choices will lead him from L.A. to Seattle or New York and back again. I assume there would be more options, and am personally delighted to try and find them.
Here is part of what I like about this game. First off, the typing reflects Case’s current mental state. When Case is exceedingly excited or angry, he makes typos and shortens his sentences but lengthens the paragraphs, something people tend to do when in such a state. Furthermore, as someone who spends more time in Seattle than I wish to, I can state that the game really does bring the town to life. The street names, the places and sights are all described from an outsider’s point of view. Not only this, but it touches on Seattle’s presence in the World of Darkness, something I have seen very little of in the past. Beyond this, the game makes mention of various well-known entities in World of Darkness, such as Velvet Velour. The art style, music that plays, and even the way things are described, draw you deeper and deeper into the World of Darkness.
One thing I wanted to mention that is different is that this game really brings to light the struggles of the thin-blooded, the clanless, and the shovelhead. This trifecta affects Case and everything he does. In fact, Case does not know what is going on right off the bat, or even what he is. He has to learn the hard way that nothing is as it seems and that the world is very different than it once was. Betrayal, heart break, and holding on with all you have to the last bits of humanity within you, become a nightly struggle. Hell, I died four times before I even got the basics of being a vampire drilled into Case’s head. This is not a bad thing because it should show the player how brutal the World of Darkness truly is.
Side note, my name pops up in the game. How awesome is that? And in the Seattle area, no less!
Here is where I have to say what I don’t like … Actually, I would be better served by stating what could have been done better, as I have little in ways of complaints. The first thing that stood out with me was the try-hard kind of flamboyant language and metaphor use the story occasionally takes. Though a bit of verbosity is a wonderful thing, this game takes it to such a degree I almost felt like I was playing a babbling Malkavian at times. I get that the character is supposed to be a bohemian art type, but this can get borderline distracting at times. Beyond this, I noticed little in the way of what makes a vampire a vampire in this. There is small mention of Thaumaturgy, Celerity, and Obfuscate, but I never ran into an option to blatantly use any power. That bothered me, but I can understand why they did this in an effort to keep the main character ambiguous. Though this leads to a small complaint. I would love to have been able to choose my clan. If nothing else, this is something I would like to see if they make a sequel. Beyond these minor things, I gotta give it up to Zak Sabbath and Sarah Horrocks for writing an amazing experience.
If you are looking to get into the Vampire mindset, this game will expose you and immerse you on multiple levels. If you are expecting flashy graphics and what not, you will be sorely disappointed as it simply is not that kind of game. I think if you enjoy a good story and don’t mind reading, you can get more than the $4.99 price tag’s worth out of this game. If you are looking to try something new, give it a whirl. I don’t think you will be disappointed. This game delivers in entertainment, and I think you can count on 5 to 10 hours each playthrough for entertainment.
Stay tuned next week when I go and review clans of Vampires again. I recall I am doing Followers of Set next. That should be fun!
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Nubz hails from the American Pacific Northwest where he has spent the last 24 years living the gamer life and running campaigns of all kinds. Through this he has managed to sate his acting bug and entertain many. Now a father, he wishes to pursue writing to leave a legacy in Nerd culture for his offspring to enjoy.