Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is a game with a very long name that was released a very long time ago in November of the year 2004. I was a senior in college. I was happy about baseball and sad about politics. I wore my hair pushed forewards instead of backwards and I really wanted my nickname to be Roxy Falcatraz, but Dufrau is what stuck. I did not care about video games. It was a bit of a dark age, baseball aside, during which I played Duck Hunt maybe three times and occasionally watched boys play Tiger Woods PGA Tour in dorm rooms while we waited for our friends to get ready for glamorous activities like drinking Boone’s Farm on a bench down by the river. As I am now old enough to buy my own Boone’s Farm and wise enough to drink it indoors, my hair is pointing the in the right direction, and I am married to at least two video game characters, by my calculations I ought to be ready to handle a game with Adult Content.
Well. It’s a good thing I’m so mature, because immediately after a character creation where you choose what kind of vampire you want to be based on what outfit you are least offended by, the game jumps right into that Adult Content. For some reason your character is banging a vampire dude apparently one million times based on the number of condom wrappers all over the room, and there’s handcuffs and chalices and drugs strewn about too because vampires are too edgy to clean their rooms, and then the dude bites you, and it’s all so embarrassing that the Vampire Police come and arrest you both, to my great relief. But alas, they are too late. You are now a vampire, which can mean only one thing: you must move to Santa Monica to assist in petty crimes. Also they behead your Sire for being a giant dork.
Santa Monica is run by vampire sisters Jeanette (who is Not Harley Quinn) and Therese (who loves margins and discipline). They operate the local Fangtasia, which in this case is called Asylum. A guy tells you to find a different guy, but that guy is in hiding because he did something to piss off the sisters, and the sisters won’t call off the dogs until you do a couple of video game things for them. To impress Therese you have to go to a haunted hotel to get a locket for probably spooky businesswoman reasons. Anybody who has ever met me will already have assumed that I would do whatever Therese asked me to, especially if she didn’t ask particularly nicely, and by golly those people are correct.
The hotel was honestly one of the most unsettling video game levels I’ve played in a long time. Apparitions and phantom footsteps and poltergeistery and my cat jumping halfway up onto my lap and scaring me and scratching me while I was otherwise alone in the house. I got lost a lot and died twice, but it was worth it to learn the value of quicksaving as often as possible, and to earn almost a glimmer of approval from my true love Therese after she finished yelling at me for the next thing I did, which was to destroy paintings and summon a blood demon for Jeanette. It turns out the paintings belonged to Therese and so did the blood demon. Incidentally, I also murdered the blood demon. She was a little angry, so I lied and said it wasn’t me, which I think is justifiable because we are all evil vampires. It really did seem to do the trick. She invited me to breakfast.
But it turns out Therese will never love me. Apparently Jeanette is the only character you can bang? I did not bang her, because she makes me uncomfortable in the way Miley Cyrus does whenever she isn’t singing and also because my heart immediately and obviously belonged to her sister. But in the end, it kind of doesn’t matter, because the breakfast Therese invited me to was a trick breakfast at a murder diner, after which it is revealed that Therese and Jeanette are actually just one vampire having a one-hundred-plus-years-long dissociative episode that I somehow went on to cure in one night using methods that didn’t seem very safe or therapeutic to me. When the dust settled, only Therese remained, but she remained as committed as ever to not banging me. (I think I did accidentally make a thrall though by feeding my blood to a person when I was skulking around the hospital stealing morphine? Maybe she will love me.)
My tireless research of one entire Google query led me to the startling fact that not only can you play as a woman in this game, it’s actually recommended. Not for cool reasons or anything though. One of the most useful skills in the game is Seduction, which girl characters seem to be able to use on basically anybody, whereas dudes can mostly only seduce women. So basically girl characters get twice the utility out of a major game mechanic just so gamers won’t have to be scandalized by a boy kissing another boy on the mouth in this game where boys regularly drink blood from each others’ necks. It’s not that surprising considering that even Bioware was pretty straight in 2004, but, like, it’s VAMPIRES. What is even the point of heterosexual vampires?
Another thing that I don’t love about it is the combat. Fighting in this game is horrible. It’s like Dark Souls except broken and random and nothing works right and damage makes no sense. Like, it looks like it’s telling me my bare fists do more damage than a baseball bat, and that doesn’t really make sense so either it’s dumb or I am too dumb to understand what the damage stat things are trying to tell me. But no matter how low my firearms skill is, if I shoot a dude in the face three times he should at least acknowledge it? Guns seem too slow and unreliable to even be worth using, so I just stab warehouses full of dudes with a knife like the vampires of old probably had to do. The ragdoll physics when they finally die is satisfyingly goofy.
For all the ways this game is super corny and dumb, it’s also actually pretty engaging and immersive. The seedy city environment reminds me of the SNES Shadowrun game, which is one of my all time favorites. Everything is dim and dirty and there are just enough people around that they all seem a little menacing, even knowing that I am the bad guy here. It feels like a place you shouldn’t be at night. (Except for the sewers, which are bright and almost pristine if not for the occasional rat.) And it plays like an old school RPG. It doesn’t hold your hand at all. There’s no map, there’s no quest markers, and the clues in your journal are vague as hell. Completing missions relies on a lot of trial and error and exploration, and on crazy stuff like actually listening to all of the dialogue and maybe even taking notes if you’re smarter than I am and/or too proud to consult the wiki.
The lore isn’t especially dense, but it’s consistent and it spirals outward into some legit intrigue. I’m only about a quarter of the way through the game, I think, but it already feels like a vibrant, soap opera-y society that I am excited to seduce and murder my way to the top of like some kind of undead Erica Kane.
Oh you played the SNES Shadowrun! Have you played the new ones?
I have them, but I’ve only tried Dragonfall so far. I was enjoying it but then i stuck in a decking fight and i got frustrated and went to bed and havent tried again yet. That was in 2015.
brb doing a quick search for undead Erica Kane fic
“What is even the point of heterosexual vampires ?”
Oh, no mention of Heather? Or are you not that far yet?
Also, if you haven’t gotten it, the unofficial patch helps tons. It fixes a lot of glitches, adds missing content back, and so forth and so on.
Heather is my thrall! Will she LOVE ME?
Sure, though as I recall, it isn’t the healthiest relationship in the world. It is pretty sapphic though.
Mind you, it’s been a while since I’ve played VTM:Bloodlines. Reading this article does make me want to play it again, so thanks for that! =)
If you play on compmod you can have other thralls. VV, Lily, Therese(I kept her in Jeanette outfit since I adore her), Yukie. They’ll follow you around, so you can possess them and use their special abilities or they stay at your haven in an assortment of animated poses. You can sire one of them if you wish.
BTW, Heather will tell you she’d been followed, you need to tell her to remain indoors or she will die at the end.
You have to tell her to stay indoors *and* let her go/tell her to leave or she dies. Which I rather liked – it was a nicely twisted little f/f relationship when I played it out but my character was decent enough to realize, in the end, it was effed up and let her go.
This is the most horrible game I’ve ever loved! To get out of the hunters’ cave (they’re all dudes so sadly no pun intended) you have to download a patch, at one point you have to use a cheat to get through a vital door, the fighting is clumsy af, oh, and if your pc isn’t really old there’s a risk that the game will crash your whole computer. But yet, here I am, loving it … a little pain with the pleasure never hurts I guess, haha :P
The haunted house is so scary! I usually pussy out and just turn off the sound and hum a jolly tune REALLY lound until it is all over, haha. Don’t get how you could die TWICE though since hardly anything deals any damage in there? Oo
At the end of the mission i couldnt figure out where to go in the hallways with the ghost steam vents or whatever? I died there twice. And the first time I hadnt saved since the beginning of the mission so i had to do the whole thing over again. What I’m trying to say here is that I am clearly a genius who is very good at video games.
Oh yeah, the steam (I always thought it was ghost flames), that deals alot of damage if you don’t rush through it right quick. Egh, I would have been terrified to do it over, that house creeps me the fuck out!
“the hunters’ cave (they’re all dudes so sadly no pun intended)”
Actually there is one female hunter model. Female hunters spawn as an encounter when your Masquerade counter is low. And why there are no femhunters in the den? Mostlikely because game had been released in unfinished state (thanks< Activision!).
Like Casey said you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO get the unofficial patch. It fixes, adds, and balances a TON of stuff. You can find the patch as well as tons of mods on ModDB. The shooting mechanic is still kinda crap tho, most effective thing to do in sneak up and back stab/drain people, especially once you get the katana. I know the schoolgirl outfit for the Malkavian can be a bit of a put off but that was by far the funnest class for me. I still break out in uncontrollable giggles whenever I of think of the time I got into an argument with a STOP sign heeheehee.
The Malkavians have such funny reply choices xD Sometimes they are so weird I don’t even understand them.
The Malkavian is the best. Still to this day, the haunted house as Malkavian is the scariest shit that I’ve ever played, even though you had pretty much no chance of dying (aside from scares irl, and flying pots and pans in game).
Glad to know I’m not the only one who argued with the stop sign!
I adore the Malkavian class in this game. My partner thinks it’s because I am a Gemini who routinely argues with myself. Of course, she also makes me play for bet “all the scary parts” -like the hotel.
Patching is definitely a necessity, as is having descent video card and monitor capabilities. My 2004 computer couldn’t truly handle the game, so no e of the characters had eyes (just eerie white patches), and I was forever lost in the pitch black of the warrens and Nosferatu areas. Seriously, I have an old piece of paper that says, “Run forward to a count of four, turn left. Crouch. Shuffle forward to a count of eleven, turn right.”. Years later when I played on a better computer I squeed, “Holy crap! They all have eyes! Wow, this game is so much easier now.”
Argh! Apologies for the typos. Fingers are too large for composing text on the phone keyboard.
What I really loved about Malkavian is how much you could just freak others out by knowing things about them that you shouldn’t have known. And also the news anchor saying funny things now and then: “Police say they have no suspects, but they’re fairly certain it was you.”
I loled at ‘loves margins and discipline’, good job.
There are tears in my eyes and it hurts to breathe because reading this cracked me up and brought up a memory.
I played Demon Souls, the thing that led to Dark Souls, Once upon a tim due to ragdoll physics my character jogged with about 6 bodies stuck to her like ribbons in the wind from one end of a hallway to another. When I exited the hall yeah some of them got free, but it took a flight of stairs to shake the last three off.
It was perfect storm of platform dimensions and too many ragdoll’d enemies.
Oh I will miss ragdoll physics when it gets phased out completely…
That’s hilarious. I think the only Souls game where I didn’t have something weird like that happen was 3.
In DS1, I got stuck in mid-air in the Great Hollow. I couldn’t move or do anything. Then I got hit with curse gas from the basilisks there. Grumble.
I love this game. It’s just a pity that the company who made EVE Online, and who holds the license (or did the last time I checked) for the WoD video games, put an end to the fan-made HD remake of Bloodlines that was in the works.
Actually, that company sold the license last October to Paradox Interactive. Maybe the people making the remake will be able to get back together? In any case it looks like they might be making a new game in this franchise.
Playing official release without the unofficial patch is the worst thing you could possibly have done – and more fucked up than a hotdog-styled buttplug.
You got it right about het vampires though. There is no point.
butt i love hot dogs.
As someone who played through the game about 5 times (1 time as male) I can say that there are not so many differences in using seduction between boys and girls. Yes, as a male character you can use seduction on male NPCs most of the times, and there are only a couple examples from a top of my head where females can use it and males can’t.
Another note from a long-time WoD fan: vampires have no libido and no sexual desires, if we wanna stay true to the WoD lore. Blood is not only life, but is your beef stake, your heroin, and your only fix in unlife. Frankly, I absolutely hate when vampires are used just as “sexual metaphor” of some sort (give us asexual vampire enthusiasts a break, please!). Or any sort of “just metaphor” in that matter. There is no more “sexual tension” when I drink your blood, mortal, than when you’re eating a chicken. >:)