Vampire: The Bloodlines masquerade is an exciting offer, because you have to dig under a huge pile of bugs and crashes in the game. But if you persevere, you’ll find one of the most exciting and useful role-playing games ever made.
This game, which is played in four districts of Los Angeles in the 21st century, is very popular. The events of the early 20th century – Santa Monica, Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and Chinatown – show a world where vampires, werewolves, ghosts and other creatures have shaped human history and business throughout the centuries.
Bloodlines places the player in the role of Chick, a man who was killed and turned into a vampire. From the beginning you have the possibility to choose your gender and vampire class. If you are not sure, the game will ask you different questions, and depending on the answers, you will be offered the class.
There are seven different classes: the mighty Bruja, the aristocratic Ventra, the beastly Gangra, the monstrous Nosferatu, the decadent Toreador, the mad Malcavian and the bloody magical owner Treme. Each of these activities will somehow determine the plot and flow of the game.
The Toreador, for example, the most human of the vampire classes, is characterized by his temptation and charisma, but is a weak fighter. The Bruja are energetic warriors who have a deep contempt for power. Nosferatu has to spend his life in the sewers because of his monstrous appearance, because simply showing himself to a man is considered a violation of the masquerade. And the Malcovites are, well, crazy.
Vampires follow a strict code of conduct (called the Maskade) to protect the secret of their existence. It forbids vampires to use their vampire powers for mankind and kill unnecessarily in order to preserve the last remaining humanity.
These two elements translate into gameplay – get five points out of the Maskade and you’ll be gently targeted by vampire hunters. If too many innocent people are killed, the character gradually loses his humanity and becomes an ill-considered beast.
In Bloodlines, public vampires (i.e. those who adhere to the Codex of Maskades) are subordinate to the Camarilla, the organisation that controls all vampire affairs. But their credibility is being questioned by several organizations seeking to reverse Camarilla’s almost authoritarian grip on vampire cases.
It’s up to you to decide whether you want to follow the Camarilla rule or join the dissident factions, as this will determine the whole story for the rest of the game.
Vampire: Masquerade: A family tree is not just about sucking the blood of unwilling people and parading through the shady streets of Los Angeles in Gothic street clothes. It’s about shaping your story according to your beliefs and decisions. Almost every choice a player makes has some influence on the world of the game. And thanks to a detailed class system and a generous skill tree, the game allows for multiple passes.
Few media works have managed to capture the vampire environment so well, and the beautiful writing (the best the industry has ever seen, according to this author) makes the universe even more exciting. It is in every way an imperfect masterpiece and the best fantasy role-playing game that ever caught our attention.
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