Parents' Guide to

Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong

By Dwayne Jenkins, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Bloody vampire tale artfully shows thrilling detective work.

Swansong Cover

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What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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While this isn't the prettiest game around, with visuals that feel very outdated, this tale is unique, impactful, and has one of the most masterful gaming narratives of recent years. The story and characters of Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong are so heartfelt and contain so many layers that those strengths easily overpower its minor visual faults. Even though you follow three central characters through various mysteries and scenarios, there's never a mission that falls to the wayside or becomes bland or repetitive. The stakes are always sky high, with every answer you uncover bringing up even more questions. Few games nail the promise of becoming a detective while making the process fun and captivating on a minute-to-minute basis. There are many ways to meet the game's varied objectives, and as you try to uncover as much information as possible, your characters can even approach a conversation differently depending on your findings. On top of that, you have willpower and hunger stats to contend with, both of which are important to manage if you want to remain in control of your urges or maintain the high ground during a tense confrontation. You might choose to burn your willpower on hacking a safe or using a lockpick on a door, then come into contact with a person who's good at being manipulative and sneaky where your willpower would've been better used getting the best of that character in a verbal back and forth. Resources aren't exactly plentiful, so you must pick and choose your actions wisely. Additionally, expertly crafted puzzles are littered throughout the game, and players may have to bust out a notepad, really listen to what people say, and take stock of what they find. Failure doesn't mean that you get a redo. Failure follows you, changing the course of the narrative and characters' opinions of you.

Even though players will control powerful vampires that can make mortals -- or lesser vampires -- do their bidding, you'll always feel a sense of vulnerability. No two interactions with other characters are the same, and you'll never be able to predict which skills will be useful in any given scenario, making the gameplay thrilling, tense, and keeping you on your toes. But once you get an idea of what you're capable of, there's no better feeling than winning a verbal game of chess with a master manipulator, or putting all the clues you found together to solve a particularly challenging puzzle. The three central characters, despite the player's freedom to allocate certain social or technological skills and direct control over their responses, all maintain their own personalities, which greatly adds to every conversation they're a part of. Everyone has their own motivations, wants, needs, and desires, and there are very few games that do this level of legwork to make their characters feel like actual people rather than in-game avatars. Throughout the game, characters will grow, change, bond, separate, and have down-to-earth moments that feel as if you're a spectator in the lives of actual people rather than someone simply playing a video game. Oozing personality, deft detective work, and a phenomenal dialogue system, Swansong has set the stage to be 2022's understated smash hit that players will want to ravenously sink their teeth into.

Game Details

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