Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption (PC) Review

By Athanasios 25.07.2019

Review for Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption  on PC

Created by Mark Rein-Hagen, and published by White Wolf for its World of Darkness universe, the gothic-punk Vampire: The Masquerade had been one of the most successful tabletop role-playing games of the '90s - especially when it comes to those passionate for everything related to vampires. The main reason was how intricately-woven the setting was, complete with competing vampire factions that had their own rules and customs, an overall strong connection to biblical tradition, and, generally, tons upon tons of lore (this is where Warhammer probably says: "hold my beer"). What better way to use all that than an RPG... unless that RPG is Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption. Cubed3 will soon pay a visit to its 15-year-old, younger kinred, but it's probably a good time to take a look at the black sheep of this small family.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption follows a knight named Christof, who unwillingly becomes a vampire, something that, diet change put aside, is excruciatingly hard for him to cope with, mainly due to the religious ramifications of it all. After all, Christof is not just a soldier, but a deeply religious crusader, who sees his new form as a ticket to hell. His only hope seems to be a, too-sexy-to-be-true, pure-hearted nun (and forbidden love), Anezka, who has recently been captured by some of his own (new) kin.

Anyone who has ever played the tabletop RPG knows what to expect: vampires who influence human civilization from the shadows, all sorts of different bloodsucking clans, with their own unique customs and agendas, and a history that has its roots in the biblical Cain. It's an awesome universe, which also shares a bit of Bram Stoker's Dracula's DNA, as this is a damned love story of sorts. Sadly, while ripe with potential, all of it was thrown out of the window for a story that rarely strays away from the generic "evil lord is coming, kill him" trope.

Despite the stereotypical plot, however, this definitely has its moments, especially when it deals with how Christof is handling the whole un-life thingy, or the secretive, vampiric power struggle. The full of 'my lady' and 'Milord' dialogue can feel corny at times due to its forced "Shakespearean" delivery, but as a whole, it certainly isn't badly written. The audiovisual aspect is also very good, with a relatively realistic (for the time) character and level design, a decent sound quality, and, generally, a great atmosphere - just make sure to turn that brightness dial to a high number.

Screenshot for Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption  on PC

Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption's focus, however, was never its narrative, and that's unfortunate, first, because this is, after all, an RPG, and, second, because, the biggest strength of the original tabletop game has always been character interaction and storytelling, not dungeon crawling. That becomes evident in the general structure, which is basically: go fetch key-item 'A' in this three-level dungeon, and repeat that for about 20+ hours. Problem is that, while the plot and presentation bits had a couple of flaws, the actual gameplay is nigh unbearable.

At its core, this is your run of the mill hack 'n' slasher, but one with a couple of very interesting mechanics. Being a vampire, you need blood to do your vampire magic, whether that's the ability to temporally become stronger, summon a spectral friend, control the minds of your enemies, or resurrect your teammates. Blood isn't just a fancy word for Mana, though. This also acts as a secondary health bar, which, leave it near zero for too long, and the 'Beast' will take over, leaving you in a frenzied state where you can't even control your actions.

The 'Beast,' in other words, your animalistic side, is one of the most crucial aspects of the franchise. Imagine it as a gauge that fills up when you get hit and are low on blood. When it's full the Beast is unleashed, and your character attacks everything on sight, until its thirst for blood is satiated. Apart from class differences and so on, you generally go faster towards your bestial nature if you are low on 'Humanity;' essentially a morality meter that increases when doing good deeds, and decreases when doing bad things, like, for example, sucking a human dry to quench your thirst.

Screenshot for Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption  on PC

Long story short, even with the lack of emphasis on the plot, the mechanics on offer could potentially provide a pretty unique experience - if the actual gameplay was any good, that is. Before getting into the bigger problems, the first thing that should be mentioned is that even going from A to B is more annoying than fun, because, apart from the slow character movement and need for plenty of backtracking, the perspective is such that is hard to take a good look around, and manipulating the camera feels more like a chore, as it requires touching the edges of the screen.

Moving on, everything is terribly unbalanced. Spells are either under or overpowered; merchants charge way too much for their items; ranged weapons are mostly useless despite being more expensive to use due to their need for ammunition; the difficulty can many times spike sky-high, like for example with the second boss; and, finally, your characters will constantly miss hitting or biting their foes, no matter how high their skills are, which will lead to battles feeling more slow than hard, as enemies don't really become stronger skill-wise, but just increase their HP.

If this was written back in the day of its release, it would mention the gazillion of game-breaking bugs and glitches, but, luckily, this has actually been vastly improved, at least in the GOG version that was experienced for the sake of this review, with the only "big" problem being that the camera zooms way too much in cut-scenes when choosing a 16:9 aspect ratio. The most crucial change comes from the fact that you can now save anywhere you want, instead of having to do a 30-minute walk to your distant haven, or risk losing an hour of progress from dying.

Screenshot for Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption  on PC

The thing is that, even with all the aforementioned flaws (some of which have actually been fixed by the community), this remains a fine game that definitely has something good to offer to vampire or just old-school RPG aficionados. Moreover, true to its Pen & Paper roots, it even includes a multiplayer mode where one can create custom stories like a Dungeon Master. Sure, like everything else in here, this isn't without its fair share of issues, but it's nice that it's there. So, this is a good role-playing game, that's just very rough around the edges, correct? Sadly, no...

The thing that completely ruins everything is none other than the existence of one of the worst AI imaginable. You see, Christof begins his quest alone, but will soon find some blood-sucking compadres to have fun with. They don't contribute much to the story, and their dialogue sequences can be safely skipped, yet you have great freedom over their skills and attributes (can't manually select their classes or appearances, though), thus they are probably great to have around, as this is a pretty tough ordeal. Too bad they are all a bunch of morons!!!

You have control over one character at a time, while the rest do whatever they want to - including them getting in your way, but that's ok. What's not is that everyone keeps on wasting precious blood, spamming powers that should be reserved for stronger foes, frequently leaving them thirsty for blood, which they don't even try to drink all that often. In other words, you'd better leave them dead. In other words, they ruin an otherwise serviceable hack 'n' slasher. In other words, it's the main reason why you should, regrettably, avoid Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption.

Screenshot for Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption  on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption is an action-RPG that's hard being hard towards. The few bits of story and lore in it are decent-to-good and the gothic atmosphere is spot on. Problem is that all these are tied to a game that's simply not fun, and for plenty of reasons, with the main one being how bad the AI of the player party is. Just skip this, and go straight for the highly respected cult classic known as Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines.

Developer

Nihilistic Software

Publisher

Activision

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Insanoflex, Ofisil

There are 2 members online at the moment.