Vampire: The Masquerade — Parliament of Knives

by Jeffrey Dean

Horror
2021

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Fighting, politics, romance, mystery solving as a vampire, November 7, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

I've enjoyed all of the Vampire the Masquerade titles from Choice of Games.

The first game in the (loosely-connected) series, Night Road, won an XYZZY Best Game award and a had a very out-of-this-world style with cray labs, magicians, ancient vampires, and a CRPG-style quest structure you could pursue in multiple orders.

The next game, Out for Blood, featured a human protagonist in a small town and focused on running a shop, developing abilities like intuition or gaining weapons, and handling a small-town vampire clash. It was lower-powered and a smaller focus.

This game sits nicely between the two. You play as a powerful but out-of-shape vampire in Ottawa whose Prince has gone missing at the same time that Anarchs are raiding the city. You have to rediscover your old strength while solving multiple mysteries.

The number of stats is heavily decreased in this game compared to the other VtM games (and Choice of the Vampire). Now there are only 9 or so main stats. Disciplines can be used, which is my favorite part of VtM games, but you either have access to a discipline or not, no growing it. The disciplines basically operate like a 'be awesome' button that is later penalized by high hunger, which can take away your freedom to choose as your are forced to feed. I played as Toreador, and enjoyed using Auspex and Celerity the most.

Focusing on a big mystery is a bit of a gamble in a big Choicescript game, since the player always knows the truth after one playthrough. This game deals with the issue by having many endings depending on what you do with that information and how you resolve the issue. In the end, there are several factions you can unite with. Also, there are many sub-mysteries to solve.

There are two romances for now, but each is fairly well-developed. The one I went with seemed much better integrated into the game than most romances, probably because the author was able to focus more deeply on each romance rather than fitting in a ton of different ones.

On an individual line-by-line basis, the writing is entertaining and flows well, and the pacing in scenes is well-done, with few slow spots, making this a page-turner.

I've written for CoG before and previously received a lot of review copies of CoG games for free, but this is one I bought myself for fun.