Hello again my wild gaming friends on the net, today your resident furball has a matter rather near and dear to his arguably cold and possibly dead heart (depending on who’s writing the werewolf story, am I right?) Anyhow, I just want to say Vampire The Masquerade is one of my favorite vampire-based lore systems. So I have a very clear bias here, and I admit it. Let’s sink our teeth into the meat of this thing then, shall we? I’ll spare you the creatures of the night insert, I swear…
Since this is based off an established property I will say the hinting is very well done. The Nos is obvious, though I don’t know what the snake eyes mean. There are a couple of clans that could be from, though one is decidedly less human-looking. As far as the dreams I allude to in the title, I will say the author could play with this a bit. Just a bit mind, it was already starting to get annoying that I had no imput about it, and the ‘mysterious goddess girl’ gives you no answers about a damned thing. I get why creators do this, but the tease can only last so long. Give her set purpose or let him accept what he is and move the fuck on.
For example; you can use her as means to prove he’s fighting what he knows to be true – a vampire will never be human again in the lore you’re using. So it could go either way. Slow acceptance of the beast he’s become and learning to be the lesser one to avoid greater problems. Or hinting that he is descended from perhaps the second generation; which makes him third in the lore. That would arguably give him in time both the raw power and the tactical ability with the game’s obvious relationship-building to become the prince of a city.
I don’t like that you start beholden to everyone, but it works in the established lore. Even for the sake of a sexual satire, so I can deal with it for now. As long as the MC does eventually gain more outright power. Or means by “connections” based on the ability path chosen – Charm isn’t going to be the obvious fighter any more than a stealth build. Nor should they be.
Powers – The Blood Is The Life
I never said I’d spare you the I never drink wine reference. It’s played with in the established lore being satirized. So, we have a vampire newb who never actually gets to drink more than once. We have a branch of only three paths as yet, and only one of them gets far enough based on correctly choosing to enhance the combat line ALL times you can, to gain a “power.” There are three variants of one scene so far that allow you to feel like you are building a different character with each path. The charm build is most frustrating. It is clear the dev wants that to be the one that brings you closest to your mentor. It’s the one that impresses her most of all the power paths to take.
It also has almost no options as yet to gain points with, and you get the obligatory ribbing when she as a decades older vampire – in a game that knows the lore well enough to satire it, and should understand that of course she’s more powerful right now – can do her trick better than you. If she is that under-confident about her place in power rank, she isn’t gaining friendly points by pulling this. It’s just the ‘toxic feminist’ that really does not need to be in this game. At all. She is a vampire of older rank, and she should know that is why she is more powerful.
There’s also the fact she’ll grip your throat just about the first few seconds within meeting you, and you as the MC have no way to fight her off. Tell her off, or otherwise react besides submission. She flies off the handle like a toxic feminist would, but she should have A LOT more patience.
So far in the power scale, you don’t have a lot to work with yet. That will come in future updates I have no doubt. You start out as an idiot with women – you have the obligatory semi interested but far too subtle ‘tomboy’ best friend who is a girl. Who is probably into your thing to try to get close to you. If your dense ass could get the clue. I’ve been over how much I hate that, so I’ll spare you. It’s just, Jesus. People on the spectrum will often have more eventual ability in this lore-based length of knowing someone, to pick up signals that far thrown. It’d be one thing if he straight up said in mind I don’t find her attractive, but some guys might… fuck. Speaking as one mid-level, it’s insulting. To all involved, in story or playing the game.
You start with no clue what the hell happened, but you get turned by a random. It’s almost ripped straight out of Masquerade:Bloodlines, and I am very much okay with that. It’s just in time for the eventual – and much anticipated on my end – release of both the Werewolf: The Apocalypse game and Bloodlines 2 that are coming out soon. Ish. Damn it. I digress… the story is good for what it has so far. There’s room to grow, and build your character’s strengths differently. I like it so far. You are still a mostly useless errand boy/bitch at this point in development and I hope that does eventually scale to something a lot more. I also hope they don’t fuck me over for wanting to chase the best friend as well as wanting deeper connection to the ‘mentor.’
You are potentially important enough that someone high ranking is assigned to look after you. No one tells you jack all you need to know. Because of this you don’t listen when said mentor tells you to distance from friends/loved ones. Very pointedly neither does your one seen friend. Who again is basically that only because dense, so no sexual relation layer yet. Gah. She wouldn’t be chasing you that hard if she didn’t want you to get into her pants. Again, it could be made clearer that she is JUST a best friend/sister type. One who does not see you that way, and you do not see that way.
Or just have it said that a bond like you’ll get (I’m not going to spoil things if I can help it) is different than an actual vampiric marriage/mating. There are ways to give the player power fantasy a semi-harem but have it be real with the girls’ feelings taken into account. Frankly if those two are the only ones I got to actively pursue to a full end, I’d call it good enough.
If you can pursue the darker path in updates to come by going with the obligatory “we are superior” females that appear, that might be a way to make a better branching path that could lead to other power avenues as well.
I do think that the combat line could add intimidation or outright fear as a factor for conversation. Variability and build viability as far as necessity to completed tasks. To that end, Charm could dominate outright in a lead to fight situation, and stealth could gain an offensive offshoot. You’ve already shown one scene on that path it applies against a human. Just because I like playing the type that can break necks, doesn’t mean I want to be thrown at a brick wall for not choosing to up points in stealth or charm when I wanted to gain a “power” down a certain path. I also think the bars for that are a little high overall. I can see people going full fighter, and failing, but I think you could even work with that smartly.
Make it so that if you do want to lock paths, the bruiser would fail at an interrogation that needed charm, but that would push the MC to a more direct confrontation with the Archon. Who would not necessarily win, if enough points – mid bar only please, it doesn’t need to be dark souls – were pumped into the combat path. If you want to do one of those stupid mini games with the block, dodge, attack it would work too. I don’t like them myself, but I could deal with that. Meanwhile a charmer could just get the info in that quest. But if it came to a beat down, eventually even Nos connections aren’t going to save your ass. I would caution against making stealth branch a god mode story wise. I can see that happening far too easily.
Conclusion – Long Winded With Bonus Points
Honestly I didn’t know what this game was going to be when I downloaded it. When I started playing I just about rolled my eyes, but then I saw what it was trying to do and boy damn… am I glad as a Vampire: World of Darkness old-school fan that I gave this one a chance. One thing I want to point out in the dream sequence; you can use it as means to give the player a chance to choose their clan. If you’re intending to add them as deeper hint to the established lore. Rename them, or just nod, it doesn’t matter. You also don’t have to go there, but in his acceptance of what he’s become he could allow the goddess to help him seek the answer of what his sire really was.
It might give you a better backbone for what powers you want the character to have, if you as the dev are well enough read about the major clans. Nods to the minor or lesser known ones are fine, but no pressure. At all. There are a lot of off-shoots no one but the eclectic play. For good reason. If you are going to keep on with the dream sequence stuff on-going; you could also use it to cement player’s choice. About relationships and ‘true’ feelings, about their decision to stay ‘human/light’ or ‘alpha/dark’ and as a hint system for any given task that the brutish Archon might make as a Sisyphean test. I can see a prick like him doing that as he realizes you are a viable challenge to his power. One he probably never thought possible.
All in all, the art is very well done. There is no real sex yet, but the setting and world-building is enough to forgive that. There will likely be sex at some point. I will say that one advantage of satire and the fact MC is new is you can go in another direction if you want. The Dhampyr. Your friend is still technically a human woman, just a bit age enhanced from now on. You are a male new vampire, so if things progress as I’d have them do, you could even make a nod to those who like breeding. It’s not classical Masquerade, but it also doesn’t have to be. Some fans would forgive it. Besides, it would differentiate all the more, which helps against permissions and law suits. Yes that was mostly a joke, but in this day and age…
Anyway, it’s been a blast my wild gaming friends. Think it’s about time I signed off for today, there’s a bad moon rising, and it’s calling my name.