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An enormous stat-driven Vampire game with great art, September 27, 2020
This game helps fulfill a childhood dream of mine. When I was younger, I always had access to and eventually bought a lot of guidebooks for RPGs. I focused on Dungeons and Dragons (I had over 20 AD&D 2E books as kid) but enjoyed White Wolf a lot. Sadly, although I really wanted it, I never found a group to run a campaign with and never tried playing Vampire: the Masquerade.
This game is exactly what I hoped for if I had played such a campaign. A clever story cooked up by a master DM (or the VtM equivalent), a large number of encounters with chances to grow my powers, and fun dives into lore and characters.
This game is designed to keep you on your toes. In an interview, the author said that his favorite concept in VtM is that just surviving is incredibly hard, and just dumping characters in a big city and seeing if they can live for a week. This is exactly the kind of scenario you have in the game.
You play as a vampire who is coming into Tucson after a long absence. The Prince there brings you into His service and asks you to complete several tasks. These tasks are each there own chapter, and there are 2 sets of 3.
You have many stats (over 30), with your initial stats determined by your clan (together with a clan weakness; mine was zoning out due to beauty). All stats are useful throughout the game, though mental stats are more useful early on.
Between mission you can spend your money (on housing, which is very useful, or cars, which the writer seems really really excited by and describes in incredible detail, with over a dozen options including exotic sports cars), upgrade your stats, or buy new equipment. You can turn NPCs into 'ghouls' who help you with everything. I got a ghoul early on and she factored into literally every mission from then on in an integral way.
True to the source, the game is heavily focused on stats and strategizing. The most important stat is hunger; high hunger makes you bad at everything, including finding more food to eat, so getting high hunger can cause a terrible spiral until you get back home and buy some cheap food. Moreover, using your coolest powers (i.e. 'disciplines') raises your hunger. You can use this to your advantage by using powers to hunt food, immediately wiping away your hunger boost.
I would describe this as a 'deluxe' Choice of Games title, if that descriptor existed. It has incredible graphics when you meet people, it has a great IP connection, and it is LONG.
I play a lot of IF games, and I can finish even very long material in an hour or two. But it took me an entire Saturday and much of the evening before to play this. It's like several shorter Choicescript games bundled together. To get a better idea of its length, I was thinking 'this game is huge' as I was getting close to its end. I was a little disappointed I had been able to raise my stats as high as I wanted, but it was okay. Then I realized that I was only halfway through the game.
There is some strong profanity in the game. I didn't run into any explicit sexual content. I received a review copy of this game. The violence level is about what you might expect from a game about superpowered vampires engaged in a war.