A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Genuine moments of forgiveness, teamwork, and compassion are present, but the larger conflict forces situations to mostly always end in bloodshed and death.
Positive Role Models
Some characters have good reasons for doing the things that they do, but many of those actions come at the cost of bringing harm to others. Most characters are selfish and manipulative, and while that may be by necessity in some cases, it also leads to characters getting hurt when it isn't always necessary.
Many nationalities and ethnicities are represented within the game, and some characters even proudly celebrate their cultural nuances if players are willing to learn more about them. People of varying body types are highlighted in non-exploitative ways, and the game even manages to tap into certain real-life discrimination issues through the vampires' struggles against other malevolent factions.
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Ease of Play
While the game has controls that are easy to understand, there are in-depth dialogue upgrades and skills trees that may initially come off as intimidating. But players will quickly figure out the limits of their powers.
Violence & Scariness
It's encouraged to drink the blood of innocent bystanders to keep your vampiric hunger from taking control. The aftermath of a party gone wrong features quite a lot of bloodshed, decapitated bodies, and visible organs. You can savagely kill many unsuspecting humans to keep your true nature hidden, and there's a scene later in the game featuring the torture and interrogation of a character.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
At a certain point of the game, there are devices shown that are clearly being used for sexual gratification. There are many suggestive comments shared between certain characters. There's also a certain part where you're recalling a character's memories, and they remember a lewd encounter they had with another character, complete with sounds of sexual satisfaction and images of implied sexual acts. Despite all of that, there's no overt nudity.
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Every curse word you could possibly imagine is said within the game, including "damn," "hell," "bitch," "bastard," "f—k," "s—t," and even insults such as "slut" and "whore."
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Products & Purchases
Based on the World of Darkness/Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop games. There's an in-game codex containing lore and backstories that may also encourage players to get into the larger WoD/VTM universes.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There are many mentions of people becoming addicted to drugs and indulging in recreational drinking. Cocaine is visible on a corpse at one point in the game. A major objective later in the game involves giving a drug cocktail to a person in order to soothe their withdrawal symptoms.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is a single player narrative RPG (role-playing game) available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. The gameplay is based on the World of Darkness/Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop games. After a massive tragedy at a party meant to unify Boston's warring factions sends its secret sect of vampires into high alert, players will need to utilize their powers of deduction to figure out what's going on and prevent vampirekind from impending doom. Violence is at the game's core, featured in many of its various scenes and scenarios. This includes, but isn't limited to, visible decapitated bodies, the handling of harvested organs, bodies with injuries where organs are seen, and quite a lot of bloodshed throughout. References to drug use and recreational drinking also come up, with some characters being referred to as "junkies" and "crackheads." Cocaine is visible in a particularly gruesome, bloody scene. A major objective later in the game includes calming down a person going through aggressive withdrawal symptoms by giving them a drug cocktail. There are many references to and devices tailored toward sexual acts, and while helping restore a character's memory, players may encounter a memory of a sexual encounter the character had that includes sounds of sexual satisfaction and blurry depictions of certain sexual acts. Profanity is also prominent throughout the game, with almost every curse word imaginable featured. The game celebrates many forms of meaningful diversity, highlighting different body types, ethnicities, worthwhile gender dynamics, and even touching upon real-life issues of discrimination, both racial and gender-based.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.