Last time out, we were treated to the point-and-clink adventure title Deponia, but this time Rebecca in Games You May Never Have Heard Of delves into the dark world of vampires, but not in a Twilight teen-angsty kind of way:
This game isn’t filled with the modern vampires you see in movies, like Twilight, nowadays (thank God). Instead, it’s an example of how vampires should be portrayed, reflecting the type of vampire described in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Now, there are a lot of people I know that have heard of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, but few who have heard of its predecessor, Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, a story of vampires, damnation and love, released in 2000 by Nihilistic Software (wow, I feel so old).
Let’s go back in time – way back – to the time of the Crusades, 1141 A.D. to be precise. You are Cristof Romulad, a man of God and a soldier of Heaven’s cause, until you take an arrow to the stomach. After being injured you wake up and find yourself in a monastery in Prague under the care of a nun named Anezka, the love interest, who has tended to your wounds. That same night, the monastery is attacked by ghouls from a nearby silver mine. You are then tasked by the Archbishop with entering the mine, disposing of the ghouls and killing the Tzimisce vampire residing there.
However, your victory does not go unnoticed by the leaders of the other vampire clans who subsequently want to turn you into one of their own. But they are beaten to it by Ecaterina the Wise, the leader of the Brujah, who corners you and “embraces” you into her clan. From this point on you are a vampire with special abilities, a weakness to the sun and a craving for blood whose journey as a vampire spans almost nine centuries, from the time of the Crusades in Prague to the modern era, waking up in London in 1999.
As a vampire you have two meters, health and blood level. Your blood level is drained both by being injured and casting spells which range from abilities such as heightening your senses to turning into a wolf. To replenish your blood level, the characters must drink blood from containers, other vampires or humans.
There are four characters you can control, both during the Crusades and modern day, each of them vampires. You need to monitor the blood level of each of your companions carefully because if it becomes too low ‘the beast’ will emerge and they’ll begin to frenzy, feeding on anyone around you, including the rest of your party. Although draining other vampires of their blood will not affect your humanity, killing humans does and will affect the ending of the game, for which there are multiple choices.
However, low humanity can sometimes be beneficial since it gives you the ability to buy and use unholy armour and weapons which are often either incredibly powerful or have very useful abilities. Another aspect of being a vampire is, of course, that you need to stay out of the sun unless you want to burn. However, there are not a lot of levels that utilise this aspect of being a vampire which is pretty disappointing and a bit of missed opportunity.
Despite this, the vampire abilities (otherwise known as disciplines) are used extremely well and there are a range of disciplines you can learn and improve, but you have to choose wisely. You only have a certain number of skill points you can obtain and spend on skills and disciplines so spend them wisely.
Of course, being a game published back in 2000, the graphics aren’t the best, but it’s pretty good quality for the time period, especially since there weren’t that many games that were fully 3D.
AI has progressed a lot too and this can definitely be seen in aspects of this game. There were quite a few glitches with the AI, with some characters glitching straight through walls or getting stuck behind posts. However, one of the most annoying things I found with the AI was the fact that they would often run off after an enemy if it came into their field of view, even if you had just switched them to defensive stance.
At this point you have to make a decision: do you leave them to die and get your other party members ready to wipe out the room full of vampires and creatures or do you just go ‘oh well’ and charge in with the rest of your party? When the AI controls the companions they also cast far too many spells which uses up a hell of a lot of blood, frustrating if you have a limited supply of blood bags. You can change the settings so that the AI doesn’t use any disciplines without your command, but it would be better if they would use their disciplines in a smart way rather than not at all.
Despite its age, Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption is still a lot of fun to play. Okay it does have its issues, from glitches to the frustrating AI, but it also has its shining moments, from the plot to the disciplines, even to the graphics, which at the time were pretty good. And – need I say it? – you’re a friggin’ vampire! I kind of wish it was either remastered or completely remade for next gen consoles so that I could experience it’s epicness all over again.
Rebecca Jones, Games and Tech Columnist
If you’ve played Redemption or Bloodlines, what are your opinions of them? What games would you like to see get the remastering treatment? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on everything else games and tech, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.