Vampire: The Masquerade is the one universe from White Wolf Publishing’s World of Darkness that has efficiently expanded from tabletop to video video games. However the 16 years for the reason that 2004 cult traditional Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines have seen just one different launch – 2017’s Vampire The Masquerade: We Eat Blood – amidst a sea of cancelled initiatives (We Eat Blood was discontinued final 12 months). After years of ready, Vampire: The Masquerade followers lastly have one thing to stay up for: Bloodlines 2 releases later this 12 months and Coteries of New York is the brand new visible novel that hopes to tide you over till then.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York suits neatly between the collection’ tabletop roots and Bloodlines’ large-scale RPG. Extra importantly, it effortlessly captures the darkish and seductive setting of The Masquerade: an alternate model of Earth the place vampires maintain their existence a secret. As a standalone story, nevertheless, it feels too inflexible to go away an affect, failing to make you’re feeling like your actions have penalties.
You start Coteries of New York as a human that falls prey to a mysterious vampire. You get up feeling undead and really a lot not sure of what is occurring, earlier than being found and brought to the Camarilla (the first group that maintains The Masquerade) for trial. Sadly, the Camarilla is steeped in custom and its legal guidelines state that a fledgling vampire and not using a sire (the one chargeable for turning you right into a vampire) have to be sentenced to ‘closing loss of life’ (I assume, as a result of vampires are form of already lifeless). The high-ranking vampire Sophie saves you out of your destiny, however expects you to behave as her servant in return.
After Sophie helps you modify to the lifetime of a vampire, you might be tasked with constructing a coterie – a bunch of ally vamps that may assist you in a time of want. That is the meat and bones of the sport, going to totally different places in New York assembly vampires and attempting to get them to affix you.
Coteries of New York impresses frequently within the first hour, with every character and setting fantastically illustrated and enhanced with delicate animations. Rain droplets splash on the streets of downtown New York; Sophie’s home mild sparkles, accentuating her alluring half smile. The writing is tight all through and at instances stellar, giving every character distinct and genuine personalities. The sport’s design suits The Masquerade’s gothic-punk aesthetic completely… there simply is not fairly sufficient of it. Characters and places are restricted to a single illustration which generally contradicts the phrases onscreen – offering no visible cue when a personality’s expression adjustments otherwise you briefly transfer to a brand new space. As the sport wears on, you begin to ignore the identical handful of photographs and Coteries of New York turns into extra of a regular novel than a visible one.
Very like the design, the sport impresses in a number of areas early on solely to fade over time. The story is at its most gripping as you might be thrust into the lifetime of a vampire, understanding your new powers and wrestling with ‘the Beast’: your unquenchable thirst for human blood. A number of characters are initially fascinating – from the vampire camgirl Hope who performs ugly vampirish acts to her on-line fanbase, to the Camarilla Sheriff Qadir’s plight of upholding The Masquerade. However the promise of every character arc by no means quantities to a lot, no matter whether or not you efficiently recruit them to your coterie or not.
Coteries of New York’s largest flaw as a visible novel is its linear plot. Additional playthroughs will solely change issues on the floor stage, resembling a number of traces of dialogue. There are not any substantial narrative branches, regardless of a number of being arrange within the sport’s opening – which characters will be part of your coterie, how successfully you keep The Masquerade, even which sort of human blood you’ll like probably the most. The decision of the Beast is the very best try at character development, displaying flashes of the battle between your bodily want for blood and your final sense of humanity. However feeding alternatives are seldom, even when the story locations them in plain sight. One scene had my companions consuming the blood of victims after a shootout whereas I stood idly by. For those who refuse to feed, ultimately the Beast will take over and hunt for you… however there isn’t any actual consequence.
The sport’s lack of development causes it to hurry to its conclusion, its villain virtually showing out of skinny air. The finale feels complicated and abrupt, failing to clarify itself or its themes earlier than the credit roll.
Coteries of New York suits the model of the Vampire: The Masquerade universe with ease, however finally feels too quick and underdeveloped to operate as its personal story. Due to this, Draw Distance might have missed out on an opportunity to attract in new followers of the collection.
Hand-drawn illustrations are lovely and macabre, but scarce, leaving loads of time to admire the design however left wanting extra.
Missing in any of the narrative branching that give visible novels their complexity and substance. Dialogue choices change little or no past some traces of dialogue.
A welcome return to the setting of Vampire: The Masquerade for followers, however the story leans extra on the collection’ historical past than its personal benefit.
Efficiency (Present PC Specs)
CPU: Ryzen 5 2600
GPU: GTX 1070 Ti
RAM: 16GB DDR4
OS: Home windows 10 Professional 64-bit
No efficiency points to talk of.
Coteries of New York is a return to the world of Vampire: The Masquerade that followers will get pleasure from. These unfamiliar with the collection is likely to be left feeling underwhelmed, nevertheless.