for a game called Vampire: The Masquerade – Swan Songit’s deceptively easy to forget that you’re playing as a 300-year-old vampire. swan song‘s slow-burn detective thriller feels far from blood hunt‘s Wild Battle Royale or bloodlines‘ bloody action RPG. After a violent attack decimates Boston’s ruling Vampire Council, your boss – Hazel Iversen, the Prince of Boston – tasks you with bringing in Jason Moore, the council’s mortal accountant, to find out what he knows.
Combing through the rooms of Moore’s opulent skyscraper apartment, sifting through financial records and sifting through emails, you might almost think you’ve started the wrong game… almost. There are a few subtle clues that are thrown through Vampire: The Masquerade – Swan Songpreview of . Like the decapitated body that is the centerpiece of this apartment. Or an ever-present hunger for human blood.
That decapitated corpse — and the swarm of cops swarming the apartment — are the first signs someone hit Galeb, one of them swan songthe three playable characters in a nutshell. Thanks to a borrowed FBI badge, your task revolves around retrieving some of Moore’s more sensitive reports to the Council and finding out exactly what happened here. It doesn’t take long before you’re combing every inch of the crime scene: interviewing cops, digging through diaries, and piecing together answers from the fragments of a broken life.
There is no quest log in the game, so it’s up to the player to connect the dots scattered throughout the level. For example, perceptive players might notice Moore’s daughter’s birthday scrawled on a harmless Polaroid and use that knowledge to open a safe elsewhere in the apartment. A police officer’s casual comment can be used to discover gaps in another officer’s story, and a discarded safety manual lying among stacks of books reveals the existence of a hidden panic room. For just one level, the amount of detail is fantastic – by the end of the preview there were still so many threads unsolved and much more time could have been spent gathering evidence and putting the full picture of the murder together.
Although the game revolves around a secret society of vampires, swan song more reminiscent of Rockstar’s detective game of the 40s LA Noire than everyone else Vampire: The Masquerade Title. The arduous task of pieced together seemingly unrelated facts to achieve a breakthrough is immensely satisfying, and the game’s UI doesn’t show every clue into your vision – you have to actually approach something before you can tell if it can be interacted with, making it all the more fulfilling to properly investigate something that looked relevant.
One of the most important tools in Galeb’s arsenal is his character sheet, an interface where you spend experience on a variety of different skills and talents. There are several different areas — like psychology, persuasion, deduction, and intimidation — that make Galeb more effective at extracting useful knowledge from people, but you’ll need every bit of Galeb’s social toolkit to get the answers that you need. Not everyone will be prone to intimidation, while others may come up with much smarter answers – meaning a higher deduction is required to correctly call their slip-ups.
Besides that, swan song isn’t always content to just let you roam around: even within the time span of this preview, the choices made by the player can have a major impact on the outcome of the level. Towards the end of the level, the preview morphed from a careful investigation into a heart-wrenching sequence that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Telltale title, with the player forced to make a series of dramatic decisions given only seconds to to decide In the final minutes of the preview, this included deciding to drain a cop’s blood or trying to talk past him, using supernatural powers or brute force to resolve a confrontation, and many other gory decisions.
Like the flick of a switch, these moments snap swan song back in masquerade Territory: Galeb’s carefully cultivated image of courtesy plummets, and the player is reminded that beneath his expensive suit lies a cold-blooded predator. In this particular playthrough, the vampire feeds on a cop while his back is turned to him, and then immediately slaughters a suspect cop. When Galeb is surprised by two more officers coming up the elevator, he gets his will to have an officer point his gun at his partner and eventually himself. It’s a gory punch of hyper violence that’s loaded with palpable tension, as it rightly feels like one wrong move could end the game.
It was somewhat frustrating, however, that this part of the preview was triggered at what felt like too soon – after the big twist was spotted, this sequence of fast-paced slaughter ended the level with no chance to activate it at a later time . It’s the only real gripe in this preview, but it was annoying because, despite the excitement, several things – including the main quest objectives – were abandoned simply because one line of inquiry had proven particularly successful before others had been explored.
As mentioned, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swan Song‘s preview session left an impression of the supernatural LA Noir. Is that the rest? swan song how it will play out remains to be seen – Galeb is only one of three playable protagonists in the game – but even if the other two storylines follow very different paths, the writing, world-building, and RPG mechanics remain swan song All feel solid enough to inspire confidence in the game’s overall flow. swan song won’t release until May, but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on for anyone wanting to delve into a good narrative RPG.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swan Song launches May 15th for PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. We checked out the game on PC.