Have You Played Vampire The Masquerade Redemption?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Everyone – including me – bangs on about semi-sequel Bloodlines, but you don’t hear much about the first digital adaptation of White Wolf’s modern vampires roleplaying game.

I’m probably going to disappoint you, if you’ve come here looking for meaningfully insight about Redemption. All I’m going to give you is deprecated memories instead. I was hugely excited for Masquerade at the time; never an enormous fan, thematically-speaking, of dungeons and dragons (lower case intentional), so on paper an RPG about vampires and werewolves instantly seemed edgier and stranger. Especially when coupled with then-unusual modern day setting, a dramatic departure from the Christopher Lee in facepaint stereotypes I was accustomed to.

The dismal truth is that I never even saw the modern-day setting. My enthusiasm died in the Dark Ages-set prologue chapter, which was a dry, soulless schlepped with weird controls and a save system the necessitated replaying large sections time and again. I remember some too-hard (at least for me then – I was a cackhanded young gamer) boss getting itself stuck on a gate, allowing me to safely hack it to death, which left me so disappointed in both myself and the game that I walked away from it entirely. I traded it in for Aliens versus Predator, for which I had no regrets.

Yet now I do feel some regret. I wish I could have known what it really was.

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19 Comments

  1. BathroomCitizen says:

    I just remember modding it up and playing a Neverwinter-y Nights DM mode online. There was a player-driven Narrator, and then there were the players. It was pretty cool!

  2. WJonathan says:

    Your memory is correct. Terrible, game-breaking pathing problems. And because so much of the game was isometric combat, I found it unplayable.

  3. Turkey says:

    If I remember right the second boss was the hardest enemy to beat in the entire game due to some absolutely awful difficulty balancing. I was stuck on that guy for ages.

    You didn’t miss much by not getting to the second half. Prague was pretty much the highpoint of Redemtion IMO.

    • ToomuchFluffy says:

      The Cappadocian Monk with that Plague Wind-spell or whatever it was? Also got me pretty frustrated with the game, but at the tenth try or so I just managed to hack him to death before he could do much. I eventually gave up after too much reloading during the Tremere-section. I liked the atmosphere. Music and general atmosphere were pretty good. Definitely better than in some games I have played. But the AI is really, really awful. Constantly using their abilities in situations where they didn’t need to and gobbling up my blood reserves like no tomorrow. My characters always ended up frenzying and completely ruining many fights. The fact that the Tremere-mages had pretty strong direct damage spells didn’t help. Stopped playing when I reached Vienna. Maybe after ten hours or so.

  4. Det. Bullock says:

    I got bored with it at the start of whatever modern city the protagonist wakes up in, I rarely abandon games so this is a badge of “honor”.
    Well, the game didn’t give me good vibes anyway, I have it only because it was bundled with the Gabriel Knight trilogy on GOG.com and taking it out lowered the discount to the point I would have paid more than with the whole bundle.

  5. The Petulant Platypus says:

    The Medieval portion dragged for a long time where as the “future” portion was way too short (at least it felt that way) and didn’t really take advantage of the modern setting.

    The story was highly enjoyable though and I enjoyed seeing people in modern times that I knew in medieval times. Cristof and Anezka were enjoyable characters and it was worth the play through. The game starts really strong and draws you in and then it peters out into mass dungeon crawls with repetitive combat. Couple that with AI issues, control issues and level design which made you shake your head (why was there so many big areas of nothing?? – it felt like the tail end of the game was rushed for resources and time).

    It’s not as good as Bloodlines, but it certainly does give the WoD vamp politics and so forth that many find enjoyable and far preferable to glitter vampires of modern media.

  6. Castorp115 says:

    I LOVED this game. Granted, I was in middle-school when I played it, but the narrative swept me away HARD. The whole love story that transcends time got me good. It was also my first introduction to White Wolf and the Vampire mythos, so I dove into the mythology of the world pretty deeply. My catholic-schooled, adolescent brain thought linking Vampirism to the mark of Cain was the height of genius.

    I also don’t seem to remember running into many difficulties, either technical or difficulty-wise, but that might be the INTENSELY rose-colored glasses I see this game through. I do remember maxing out the Ventrue skill Majesty and simply walking into rooms to find all the enemies simply standing still, basking in my glory.

    It probably doesn’t hold up, but MAN did I have a good time with it.

    • Stengah says:

      I loved it too. It had great characterization and amazing voicework (I’ll occasionally use one of pissed-off Cristof’s lines about the sun when it’s particularly bright), and I found the story to be very engaging, even if parts of it did drag. The multiplayer part had tons of potential, but was probably a few years too early to really catch on.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        It did have amazing voicework, amazingly hilaribad when it came to Christof, but very entertaining to listen to. It’s always funny to hear him shout a battlecry when smashing a barrel, which is just of the moments where it seems like a B-movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I enjoy bad movies much more than bad games, but voice acting is one area where something bad can still be very good.

        The party AI is one reason I stopped playing it after completing it several times. The game is very well-made and enjoyable most of the time, but it’s certainly not without flaws and combat is usually the weakest part of any RPG. The priorities are just fubar, the tank members activate super strength over any weak enemy and the magic wielders drain themselves without a second thought. I often had to either go solo or lure enemies to my party.

        The sudden super attacks by some larger enemies (almost) killing a character is another thing that made me stop playing it. The controls are such that it isn’t easy to dodge an enemy once your in melee range and most such enemies don’t attack from afar. The hit-and-run tactic isn’t feasible, so you either have to cheat, by using an overpowered freeze spell or have someone/something (a summoned minion) to tank it.

  7. Landrassa says:

    I recently did a full replay, after picking it up on GOG for next to nothing.

    The game had a lot of potential, but was plagued by quite a lot of problems:
    1. The save system mentioned in the article (later patched for save anywhere)
    2. The awful pathfinding

    But worst of all, and this cuts right to the core gameplay, the party system is rubbish. Your teammates will show up, burn all their blood on abilities, pull in a lot of extra baddies, and then die horribly. Which means that oddly one of the best ways to play the game is to set the entire party to stay behind, and draw in enemies one at a time, using Awe to drain them of all their blood so one is topped up all the time.

    I’m a little surprised at the comparisons between the Dark Ages and the Modern section. Both are about the same size and require roughly the same amount of time to play, although it is quite possible to become so ridiculously overpowered that the whole Modern section becomes a bit of a joke.

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    Thulsa Hex says:

    Ah, this is one of those games that endures in my mind because of the potential more than what it actually delivered. My memories of the game itself have also depreciated some, but here are the key recollections:

    -The first boss was a Sabbat that wore human skins like a cape.
    -The enemy AI only triggered when you entered a weirdly-close radius.
    -I loved the idea of the modern setting, but also never got to it in the single-player game (only experiencing it in the DM mode — offline due to 56k).

    Overall, I am grateful to have played it for it introduced me to VtM and the World of Darkness. Although I have yet to actually try the tabletop RPG, I did buy the core guidebook and it was a beautiful thing (to this day, it remains the only game instructions I’ve seen that used feminine pronouns as the default). “Gothic” can be hard to get right but Vampire the Masquerade’s world just does. It is politically complex, unabashedly romantic, surprisingly intuitive and genuinely melancholy. This is a setting that does Vampires justice. Oh how I yearn for the day that we get a truly well-made VtM computery game — something of Witcher 3 quality. Bloodlines was excellent in many ways, but devastatingly hamstrung. One day…

  9. Chaoslord AJ says:

    I actually liked it despite its flaws while being designed as a linear action RPG essentially and being unrelated to the beloved Bloodlines.
    But we got world of darkness here and vampires and goth stuff and every time I move my guys into the sunlight they scream fun stuff like “the sun burns me to ash” or something.
    Good old-school RPG with frustration, screwing up and the player not getting all the good stuff.

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    Lars Westergren says:

    The setting was good, the characters and writing was ok, the gameplay was a dreary Diablo-like clickfest where gameplay mechanics trampled all over the lore.

    Vampiric disciplines in the p&p system were often restricted to certain clans and gave every character a unique flavor, and demanded you played to your strengths. Some had significant drawbacks or tied into the meta-story, like the Tzimisce fleshcrafting. But here they were generally just offensive spells or gave you +1 in some stat, and they were handed out like candy by reading books, at least one in every level?

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, pretty much. The gameplay was shonky Diablo which was just a huge mismatch for the setting and themes of V:tM, let alone any pretense at adapting the tabletop mechanics. It wasn’t a complete trainwreck but there’s no question Bloodlines was the one that deserved to be remembered and celebrated.

  11. Muzman says:

    I don’t leave games unfinished, so I played it all the way dammit.

    As Walker’s favorite anecdotes involve Soldner, some of mine involve this game. Which seems mean as it’s trying very hard in certain respects. I think the writing and dungeon design people never actually met as it seems like two different games; slightly overwrought costume melodrama and a tedious grindy hack n slash loaded with bugs and the occasional stupid platformer-ish “puzzle”.

    It still had some classic moments. Like how no one really figured out what to do if your party members have died during a quest but still have lines to deliver, so they just pop back to life long enough to say something and then sink back down again.
    My personal favorite was when my party killed some big bad while he was locked in mid suck on me, but he still had some defeat speech to give. So the post fight cutscene played out with him sucking on me, lips animated and everything. My character talking back as well and party members, dead and otherwise, interjecting over the thickshake sound fx.
    It was a long cutscene though and eventually I ran out of blood and died. This was awkward as I had quite a lot more to say and had to do so as a limp corpse on the ground, head to one side.
    You do have to give some credit to the lip synch and camera system for keeping up with this though.

    Between these sorts of highlights it is a bit of a slog. Party management consists of the most dumb defensive posture available. Choose anything else and your team are Leroy Jenkins! at every encounter and you’ll be struggling to keep them alive longer than two minutes at a time. They will get themselves surrounded and murdered by the dopiest enemies. You have only one working tactic: advance, alert only a couple of enemies, fall back, kill them, goto 10.
    If you’re lucky you’ll be able to use the scenery to your advantage, including such hits as Open Doorways and Rugs. Features that made it to the box, I’m sure.

    • Razumen says:

      Lol, would’ve loved to see that in video form.

      I remember enjoying the game a lot when I played it, but that was long and and it did definitely have its own flaws. I think I managed to bear with them till the end because to me the game and setting was really novel for the time (and at least as far as vampire RPGs go, it still is).

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    cockpisspartridge says:

    LEEEEEEEEEROY JENKINS!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Quimby says:

    I very much enjoyed this at the time. The story sucked me in and let me forgive the weaker aspects of the game. I seem to remember a sword that was ridiculously over powered that you acquire quite early and then use for the remainder of the game. Hack and slash.

    • FroshKiller says:

      Swords overpowered guns in Redemption by design. In Vampire: The Masquerade, guns only do bashing damage to vampires since they don’t depend on their internal organs. But swords do lethal damage like normal since vampires are still vulnerable to dismemberment and decapitation. That bit from the tabletop game made its way into the computer game.