A (Late) Love Letter to Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption
This video is sponsored and approved by Honey. I'm always somewhat baffled (and this has happened to me far more than once) when I meet someone who is familiar and super fond of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, - [News Anchor] "Hey, have you seen any vampires around here? - but completely unaware that it was not the first video game adaptation of the nocturnal bloodsucker tabletop RPG. Around the turn of the Millennium, Nihilistic Software released Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption, the first-ever computer RPG set in the World of Darkness. It’s a janky, rough-around-the-nose but beautifully story-rich and epic action RPG that tells the bittersweet life-story of crusader-turned-vampire Christof Romuald spanning from the Dark Ages all the way to Modern Times. His tale is a dark and poignant love story that was, for the maturity stage of video games when it came out, surprisingly well-told, gripping and full of gut-wrenching narrative twists, delivered with an unmistakable flavor of hammy, over-dramatic voice-and character-acting.
- [Anezka] What power could daunt the man who hath faced demons from hell? - [Christof] The face of an angel from heaven! - [Anezka] Oh my lord! - This game has always been a special case to me. As the socially awkward TTRPG playing mall-goth that I was in my teenage years, I had already been actively playing the Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop a few years prior to Redemption’s release. While D&D fans had been spoiled and pampered with dozens of video game adaptations for decades, finally getting one based on our favorite vampire RPG was a dream come true! I’ll always remember the day our entire coterie at the time dressed up for the occasion and rode down to the department store together to snag five copies the day it hit the shelves.
It was.. an event! - [Gun vendor] (NJ-accent) Hey, I don't give a damn what you are. Believe me, I've seen worse in my day! - We all genuinely loved it! But the game, fitting for a Vampire: The Masquerade adaptation, also had a lot of flaws. - [Pink] Ohhh, terribly sorry 'yer lordship! - Since it doesn’t have the active modding community of a Bloodlines, it was and still is janky and poorly balanced in many places, with opaque and cumbersome systems that can be hard to approach, especially for modern audiences. I must admit that it took me many years and multiple failed attempts until I was finally able to bring it to heel.
- [Christof] Back to the abyss, hell spawn! - This video is my (late) love letter to Christof’s Story through the ages, because once I had untangled it, understood it, and overcame the unwitting adversity it can put new players through, it became a title that I adore playing and replaying start to finish without hesitation or reservation. Not just the platonic idea of it, or the story beats isolated from gameplay, but the entire work as a whole. - [Josef] Ohhh yesss! - Hopefully it might inspire some of you who've either never heard of it or who've also found getting into it troublesome, to give it a shot with newfound vigor.
While those who've always adored it wholeheartedly might find a new acolyte to welcome into their ranks. - [Anezka] I pray that the light of the lord fill thy body with strength and vigor! (Monsters of the Week intro music playing) Alright, before we go on, a thank you to Honey for sponsoring the making of this video! Have you had that before? You're shopping online and find a discount-code in the checkout field and start skimming through sites that collect promo-codes and stuff, try out a couple but end up just giving up after you find that most of them are deprecated and it’s just meh. Happened to me so often that I eventually stopped bothering at all. And this is where Honey has been a total game changer for me. Honey is a super simple, completely free Online Shopping Tool that scours the internet for promo codes for you in seconds! While shopping online, even on many of the websites you’ve already been using in the past, all you have to do is click the little button at the top of your browser and Honey searches for the best available discounts for you from a vast library of promo codes in the blink of an eye.
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You can also find this link in the description by the way. So, thanks a lot again, and now, I hope you enjoy the rest of the video! (spooky music playing) It is the year of the Lord 1141. This was the time when the Ecclesia Latina proclaimed to wealthy, pious feudal lords that if they burned and pillaged their way across Europe towards Jerusalem, they’d receive blanket penance and salvation in reward. And so for centuries they sent knights and armies marching for the conquest of the Holy Land. In the name of the church, they slaughtered as many wrong-believers as their coin could afford. (which could be anyone who interpreted a mere word of the Holy Scripture differently) Lovely times.
One of those ideologically instrumentalized avengers of the Glory of Christ is Christof Romuald, knight of the cross, who’s crusading away somewhere in Bohemia -in one of the many opening squences in that era that was strongly and openly inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula from 1992- when he’s gravely wounded in battle and shipped to a convent in Prague to recover from his wounds. Christof is an incredibly fun, joyfully flawed protagonist. On the D&D Matrix I'd place him somewhere in the lawful good spectrum. He's pure at heart, devoutly god-fearing, pious and fiercely convinced of his Holy quest He's pure at heart, devoutly god-fearing, pious and fiercely convinced of his Holy quest being the one pure and noble cause of true righteousness. (woman screaming) This stubborn conviction turns his initial predicament, he stumbles into, into an incredibly juicy morsel to start his tragic tale with. While recuperating in the hospital of the convent, it takes just one look for him to immediately fall head over heels in undying love with one of the nuns caring for him, Sister Anezka.
And his feelings, thank the lord, are anything but unrequited. - [Anezka] It was the lord that saw fit to spare thy life! We humble sisters simply attended thee.. - [Bishop] Hoho, Sister Anezka is too modest! She ministered to thy shattered body, day and night! Long after all others had given up hope. She did indeeed restore thy life! - Anezka finds herself gripped by the same fiery passion for her patient and the two struggle to come to grips with their all-consuming feelings for each other; which threaten to betray their holy vows of chastity.
To this day, I think this is such a unique and enthralling setup for a narrative RPG that, despite the game's signature layers of ham in its overdramatized acting, still holds up excellently. The lovers' predicament is real; an excruciating Gordian knot for the two and the beginning of the forbidden love story that convincingly forms the central motivation behind Christof's actions for the rest of the story. But before things escalate for them, it seems right on cue that things escalate in Prague. The townspeople come rushing to ask for help with a sinister witch that has occupied the silver mines outside the town walls.
So since Christof is real hero material and also welcomes a task to cool off from matters of the heart, he puts on his big red cross Crusader garments, draws his trusty broadsword and ventures into the mines to protect the people of Prague from the demonic abominations that have taken hold of it. This is when we take control for the first time. Christophe steps out into the city of Prague where we interact with various townsfolk, visit the tavern to receive support for our mission - [Tavern owner] Hail, good sir knight, and welcome! - and check out the local blacksmith’s wares and the curiosity shoppe of the elder wise- woman in Prague's Famous Golden Lane to spend our still meagre coin on some additional armament before we make our way outside of the town walls into the silver mines, where we face cRPG typical rats as - [Christof] Wild dogs?? Nayyy... RATS!
- as the first low- level video game enemies as well as Szlachta, a deformed type of ghoul that hints to the savvy World of Darkness players that the ghastly clan Tzimisce might be at work here. (squeaking and slashing) We control Christof from a free- rotating 3rd person perspective and like in contemporary action RPGs like Diablo or Baldur's Gate, we click on the floor to move and click on enemies to attack them. It is pretty obvious in many different parts how heavily Nihilistic Software was influenced by the at-the-time super popular Diablo: the tile-based inventory layout, the weapon sizes and healing potions on the quick bar, the control scheme and even the system of magic weapons you find in dungeons having to be identified before you can use them, as well as Town Portals spells to transport you out of the hot zone into your hideout, down to little details that shout the inspiration from the rooftops.
- [Warrior] The smell of death surrounds me! - [Christof] The odor of freshly mined earth is laden with the stench of death! - Now, if you've never played this game, I wanna share some useful tips to keep in mind, that can help you avoid a good bit of frustration with the early game. See, as liberally as Redemption borrows jigsaw pieces from Diablo, many of them are not as neatly and seamlessly assembled as they are in the blueprint. So buckle up for some nitpicking: In Diablo, the core gameplay loop is optimized for efficiency to perfection, you fight until your inventory is full or your supplies have ran out, quickly teleport back to town, sell your loot at the local vendors, re-equip, potentially improve your loadout and jump back in the fray in a minute or two. In Redemption, when you reach the point of your inventory being full for the first time, you don't have any town portals or any other magic available yet, because you're still human. So in order to dance the Diablo-loot- tango your only option is to walk all the way back through the mines, back to the town wall, through the streets -I've timed it: it took me a whopping 3.5 minutes to get to the blacksmith, and the magic shoppe and the convent are all a good extra distance apart from each other to boot.
This structure for the opening chapter strongly suggests that the game is telling players that it doesn't expect them to go back, quite the opposite. It signposts that you’re not supposed to bother with character and inventory management, just venture on for now. But if you're not lucky enough to get exactly the right random weapon drops, you might just hit a proverbial wall, at the latest when you meet the war ghouls or Mines’ boss encounter. So selling loot, improving soak values by getting armor, selecting and buying the right weapons and putting your gathered XP into the right stats for the early phase of the game is exactly what it wants you to do, what it's balanced for. At the same time the abundance of character stats you're met with is quite opaque and overwhelming in the beginning about what’s useful to you now or how it will come into play later, and how the physical attributes affect your combat prowess here. Since Strength, Dexterity and Stamina work slightly differently than you'd expect from other RPGs.
But the game never tells nor teaches that to you, ever. Vampire: the Masquerade - Redemption is a classic case of an RTFM game, carrying its design principles over from an era where video games were still made with the printed handbook as a mandatory part of it. In olden days this was often even used as a form of copy-protection, barring pirates from information that makes the game accessible. Redemption has no tutorial, because it expects you to read the handbook to grasp how stats, weapons, attack and defense work, as well as the controls, spells and strategies you need to master it and a good bit of the necessary background lore too, to know what’s going on. This approach was totally commonplace for the longest time. And being aware of this is incredibly helpful for not getting brick-walled in the early hours of the game.
But you really can't blame anyone who didn’t grow up in the Dark Ages of video game history for not knowing that. Diablo’s Scroll of Town Portal is instantly recognizable when you play the game but it took me until I bothered to Read the Fucking Manual to learn that Redemption even had town portal scrolls and spells, only they’re called "Walk the Abyss" here and that the Identify spell to make unknown magic items usable is called "Spirit's Touch." It's.... really not very obvious and the game never tutorializes, teaches, or prompts this on screen at any time for new players.
If you should own Redemption on GOG or Steam, these digital versions come with the game manual in PDF form, downloadable in the additional content sections. I highly recommend taking some time to read it and even actually printing it out and having it on your desk when you play it for the first time. - [Christof] To the abyss with thee! - I personally think this old way of playing games with a physical booklet by your side, games that that are *designed* to be played like that, can be a really cozy-immersive endeavor, like you're a librarian deciphering a tome of ancient wisdom to decode this digital artifact in front of you.
But just in case, here's what threw me off multiple times during my first attempts at playing it and a few tips to avoid these pitfalls: Coming from Diablo, I expected that Strength is tied to melee and Dexterity to distance weapons. So since Christof is very close to the Fighter Archetype in looks and equipment, I always intuitively went for more strength for the broadsword. But it turns out that Dexterity is a far more important attribute in the early phase for any build you play, because Dexterity always, no matter if for melee or distance combat, determines your chance to hit with a die-roll that's subtracted from your opponents' Dexterity value. This is also quite different from the Vampire: the Masquerade 2nd Edition that this adaptation was based off.
And since even early opponents have a relatively high dexterity value, you end up with the typical early-level DnD kerfuffle: Standing in front of a 5-foot-tall opponent with a broad sword and missing 9 times out of 10. It can be incredibly frustrating and just not feel fun to play. But once you understand that in the early game you should focus on a) boosting your own Dexterity and b) preferring weapons with "Accuracy" stats because this value is added to your character's dexterity, temporarily, while wielding it.
This little bit of intel turns everything around. You actually stop slicing air and start hitting your opponents, strokes start smacking reliably and giblets start flying around. It gets really satisfying, truly feeling like the Dungeon Crawl hack and slay the game wants to be.
(cracking, Szlachta grunting in pain) Once I saw through this, Vampire: the Masquerade - Redemption turned from an initially opaque and punishing, half-baked Diablo- clone into a vengeful, engaging power fantasy. So, with that, once you meet Azra in the unholy cathedral at the bottom of the mines, Christof's hot-headed fulminations toward her start sounding thoroughly intimidating because now he really can slay her with the fervor of a Soldier of God. - [Christof] Die, thou damned beast! God hath spath the out of heaven in ancient times and now I scourge thee from the earth! Die... and burn far from the sight of god! (fighting sounds) - Christof makes short work of Ahzra the Unliving, who -unbeknownst to him- was a somewhat highly regarded Tzimisce leader. So his intervention doesn't go unnoticed in the World of Darkness.
In Vampire circles, this feat to single- handedly slay a powerful kindred, attracts the notoriety of the ruling clans who conspire to recruit him into their ranks, while the acolytes of the Tzimisce are out for his blood and send assassins after him. - [Tzimisce Assassin] This is thy paiment for bringing Final Death to Ahzra the Unliving! (fighting and spell casting) - And so it comes that Ekaterina the Wise of Clan Brujah is the first to act and embraces Christof on a nightly patrol, making him her kin. There is so much drama leading up to this; Christof confesses his undying love to Anezka right before they’re caught by the Bishop himself. - [Bishop] ...damnest thy soul and doomed Anezka!
- He is banished from the convent for his affront, only to be turned into the very thing he wanted to purge from God's earth. - [Christof] What are thou? A demon, sent from hell? - [Ekaterina] I am here to save thee, Christof. To deliver thee from thy mortal shackles.
- [Christof] By the power of the Lord, I banish thee from my presence! - [Ekaterina] Poor child. Thy faith died long ago! - It's such a wonderfully tragic turn of events. The scene of Ekaterina turning him into a Brujah neonate still gives me the chills to this day. - [Christof] Nah! Oooh Nayyy! - This is the stuff of Greek Tragedies. - [Christof] ooooooooooaaaaaa--- - Christof takes his new unlife with the self-loathing and despair you'd expect. Already stricken with a guilty conscience for his impure thoughts of Anezka, his un-demise now firmly convinces him that his soul is damned and god has abandoned him.
- [Christof] (grunts) Am I now a miserable demon? Stealing blood to live? There is nothing left for salvation! Or damnation! (metallic clink) - It is of little consolation to him at first that his new nocturnal family is actually quite welcoming. He learns about a whole new world hidden from the knowledge of mortals. The intricate society of immortals weaves the threads of fate in the shadows while waging a holy war since the dawn of man against each other.
Not that different to daylight society if we’re completely honest. Christof’s been sired into Clan Brujah, who, back in the Dark Ages, were not yet the anarcho-rebellious revolutionaries they're known for in modern days, but a caste of warrior-poets. Once again I have to point out what a fantastic and interesting character Christof is for this tale.
A lot of his quest is about overcoming the rigid-minded bigotry and prejudice that his cult-like religious conviction for the Latin Church evoked in him in his previous life, and he gradually learns how good and evil is not as black and white as he had always assumed. And in the end, it is his tragic love for Sister Anezka that soon calls him to action. Christof decides to pay her a last visit to say say his goodbyes, but Anezka, despite sensing the un- life in him, does not give up on him. She starts investigating the vampiric society in the hopes of finding a cure for his affliction, on her own. Until she suddenly disappears from the face of the earth in a wave of sudden disappearances of mortals and kindred alike. - [Christof] Noooo! - So Christof, with the reluctant blessing of his new masters Ekaterina and Cosmo, conducts an investigation and scavenger- hunt through the night-time streets of Prague.
And he doesn't have to do it alone: He’s partnered up with Wilhelm Streicher, our first coterie member and he's just about the perfect first companion and mentor figure for Christof in his time of apathy. Wilhelm is a Brujah of Germanic descent and there’s not an awful lot of backstory about him, but all in all, he's just a nice friend, calm and patient. He empathizes with Christof's predicament and gives him the right things to ponder about when he needs it. - [Wilhelm] Come now. Before thy embrace, did thou not slay evil creatures?
Behold! Thy mission survives even thy death! - [Christof] That is scant solace for the loss of my soul... - [Wilhelm] Thou doth brood too much upon events thou cannot change, Christof. - And no matter what, he always has his back.
Whilhelm’s a good egg. Aside from now being allergic to sunlight, which shifts the action into (almost) exclusively nighttime scenarios, Christof also gains a host of new vampiric abilities. Next to his life energy, he now has to maintain his blood levels by feeding on humans or kindred; it's basically a mana pool to cast disciplines.
But if we feed too greedily and end up killing innocents we lose humanity, which can affect the outcome of the game as well as make the character more prone to frenzy. When this bar fills up, any vampire will unleash "the beast" and you lose control over the characters, who go berserk and attack anything and anyone in sight. The coterie grows up to four party members over the course of the story.
We recruit the Cappadocian sorceress Serena and the Gangrel Viking Erik during our mission in Prague. And they're all just *good people.* They stand by Christof’s side and help him understand humanity; that it is not an attribute exclusive to mortals and pious, baptized Christan folk, and that Christof used to judge a lot of things far too prematurely in his previous life. One of my favorite aspects about this game and especially its Dark Ages setting is the amazing locations we visit along the way.
On our trail of the slave- trade-abductions conspiracy we come across some of the coolest historic set- pieces I’ve encountered in video games so far: We descend into the catacombs beneath a Cappadocian monastery. We subdue an unhinged golem in Prague's Jewish quarter to protect the local community from mayhem. We traverse through the maze- like Canals beneath Prague via a secret entrance of Clan Nosferatu, located in the city's legendary cemetery. We explore the origin of the Kindred following the path of Kain in an ancient subterranean labyrinth - [Narrator] In the beginning, there was only Caine. Caine who sacrificed his brother out of love.
- to gain access to the Cathedral and steal from the Bishop, on order from the Ruling Vampire, Prince Vallium of Prague. - [Prince Brandl] We do bestow our princely dispensation upon thee... - And we infiltrate a Tremere Chantry operating behind a false storefront in the famous Golden Lane. The game and its locations are one-of-a-kind, and they consistiently bleed so much atmosphere.
And it doesn't stop at Prague. Our pursuit eventually makes us travel to Vienna, where we walk the snow-covered cobblestones of the Ringstrasse, take refuge beneath a desecrated church, and meet Vienna's prince Orsi and his tragic cainite daughters at one of his lavish banquets, where he invites us to a questionable hors d'oeuvre. (slashing, painful gasping, blood pouring) - [Cunt Orsi] Hnnmm... not to my liking, I'm afraid.. I prefer blood of a nobler sort.. - At his behest, we also break into the Stephansdom through a secret entrance in the clocktower, where we hide until the sun rises.
On our path through the Cathedral we fight Lasombra Ghouls while evading deadly sun rays piercing into the hallways that burn us to a crisp if we’re not careful. - [Christof] To the abyss with thee! (slashing, cracking) - Just writing these lines and summarizing the amazing places you get to visit (despite having just recently played through the game to record footage for this video) makes me want to start a new playthrough all over again. And despite many of the open spaces, like the city of Prague and the Ringstrasse of Vienna, which serve as central hubs between stores, story locations and "Dungeons" being relatively expansive and largely empty because there's really not much to do here, they've become video game comfort places for me over the years. I could just stroll across the Judith Bridge and soak up the atmosphere in the Golden Lane and the Ringstrasse, walk the somber streets and alleyways for hours and never get tired of it.
I just love how melancholy-wholesome these places make me feel. Now, you might think that with additional coterie members, the game gets significantly easier because we have more muscle at our side, right? But there’s one issue with this game that can thoroughly get in the way of this and that is it's, there’s no way to sugarcoat this, horrendous party A.I. Your teammates are granted a degree of algorithmic autonomy that can oftentimes, if you don’t know how to keep them on a leash, make their assistance more frustrating than helpful. Now, initially, I had an entire chapter planned here that talked about the issues of the party A.I. and the difficulties with too much complexity in a realtime combat system, but I ultimately decided to “outhouse” this, since it felt more fitting for this video to focus on what I love about Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption.
- [Serena] I offer thee any comfort I can give in thy grief! - But you can watch this chapter, which is about some of the most frustrating gameplay parts that repeatedly threw me off the game in the past, and my best tips on how to circumvent and permanently avoid them when you play it yourself. There should be a YouTube card that leads to it, and I’ve also put a direct link in the description of the video if you’re interested! So instead, let’s continue on our crusade through 11th century Europe, because the coterie’s path through Vienna is riddled with more plot twists, betrayal and... bitter loss. Yeah, Redemption was one of the first video games that astonished me with a character's death, so much so, I had to look it up to see if it was indeed permanent or if I was missing something. When it’s at it’s best, it's a dramatic stage- play that pulls the rug under the audience's feet at the most unexpected moments. And we haven’t even gotten to the best part, yet.
Because the game does not just borrow the aesthetic of the opening sequence from Dracula. Eventually, when we return to Prague on the trail of Anezka and the lost slave shipment, we find the city engulfed in flames. The streets have been overrun by the same Tzimisce hornets nest Christof poked into when he slayed Ahzra in the Silver Mine. This splinter group of Tzimisce were engaging in preparations to resurrect an ancient Voivode, a clan methuselah who's powerful enough to diablerize the eldest antediluvians of vampires and thereby rob them of the power to dominate the Cainite world. So we take on the castle of the still dormant Vukodlak during a siege which is set in, yes, the Carpathian mountains.
Vampire The Masquerade lore actually features Vlad Tepes aka the real Count Dracula, who’s also a powerful Tzimisce elder, but his time is over 400 years after the events of this game. So, I assume the developers went for the next closest thing in order to not mess with The Lore too much. On the elder’s trail we discover in his vassals’ scattered journal entries, that the slaves were employed by the Tzimisce through their powers of Vicissitude to shape their flesh and bones into an army of Szlachta. The very army that’s been burning Prague to ashes.
On top of that, it turns out that the ancient vampire lord has taken a specific liking in Anezka, feeding on the strength and purity of her soul, and so in the final showdown of the Dark Ages segment of the game, we discover that he turned her into a Tzimisce ghoul, defiling her into a (seemingly) vengeful creature of the night. God... - [Christof] Forgive me, Anezka. I never meant harm to come to thee. - [Anezka] But thou harmed me all the same! I will enjoy the taste of thy Brujah-blood! It is so clean compared to the sweet corruption of Tzimisce blood. Bid the devil greetings from me for I send thee to hell! - But Christof is not swayed, no.
He’d never harm a hair on her head. At the height of the siege, when the castle starts to collapse, Christof throws himself in front of Anezka to shield her from a tumbling pillar, and is struck down and engulfed with darkness. It's a darkness that lasts for nearly a thousand years... Christof eventually awakes from his torpor in a warehouse surrounded by clerks and scientists in clothing he can't make sense of pointing strange, stone-slinging devices at him. - [Scientist] Bloodsucker! I'm sending you to hell! - [Christof] A metal sling that hurls deadly stones.
It is simple to use, yet murderous beyond measure. I see that man has not rested in his quest to create ever more powerful weapons. - There was a lot to admire already, but the moment we wake up at the turn of the millennium is when the game really starts to shine and fire off some of its strongest moments. Christof slashes and shoots his way through confusing corridors, storage closets and laboratories, still dressed in his thousand-year-old tattered and torn crusader garments. Combining modern firearms with ancient armor is such a badass OOTD. I’ll never get tired of it.
And being confronted with the marvels of a miraculous, futuristic world after his 1000 year hibernation is such a genuinely enjoyable clash of worlds. - [Christof] Now is all my reason thrown down. Surely my sleep hath made me mad, for if I'm yet sane, the world has become a lunatic asylum! - I really have to bow down deep in respect for the developers going to the length of making Christof's Dark Ages origin not just a prologue to set up his backstory, but the full first half of the game. It anchors his character and his quest so firmly in the story. A lot of the systems subtly change too: the UI gets a new look, new weaponry functions in different ways and armor types behave slightly differently, no longer strength scaling for instance.
Everything makes us feel like we're a foreign body; an ancient relic in a hectic, glimmering world where we have no place. Until we start gearing up and begin to blend in. We still have to maintain the Masquerade after all. - [Burglar] (stammering) Oww, please don't hurt me... take my gym bag! Please, you need clothes, right, uh huh? I got clothes, uh yuh take em! Just don't hurt me! - We visit the local stores and make new acquaintances, discover the joy of London’s nightclubs and the pleasure of...
feeding on Goth Girls, recruit fun new coterie members like Pink the Punk who's never short of a snarky socio-political comment while mentoring us on the way things work in the modern age, - [Christof] Oh... for I have lost her. - [Pink] Yeah, not so fast, squire! There's two ways your bird might be around! Ghouls can live as long as us licks. Of course she'll need a constant supply of Tzimisce blood or she'll fall apart faster than Thatcher's reforms! (air horns) - and we rescue Lily from servitude in a brothel. She’s a neonate who proves in a heartbeat that she’s a Tory through and through.
...Clan Toreador that is, not... Tories. - [Pink] Prove it! Who are Cry Cry Cry? - [Lily] Uhh, you mean the American band Cry Cry Cry? Aren't they that acoustic trio that even though are all songwriters only does covers of songs by other groups and performs most depressing - [Pink] Enough!! She's a Tory alright... - And once we gear up, Matrix-style, with leather jackets and start wielding Chainsaws and shotguns, not even Christof can deny the appeal of modernity any longer. I mean come on, we get to fight werewolves in the Tower of London, what’s not to love? (snarl) As much as I missed the historically rich backdrop of Prague and Vienna, there's something about the game’s writing that kicks into gear after the time-skip, as if the entire first half was an incredibly elaborate setup to unleash the game's true potential.
Luckily, Christof doesn't stay aimless for long, because it turns out we awoke just in time. The Tzimisce elder we pursued before the time skip has also been in torpor the whole time. His acolytes are in the process of shipping his Transylvanian home soil via London to New York, and Anezka has been kept alive the whole time by the Voivode's elder blood. So we continue right where we left off, always hot on the trail of the grand conspiracy to awaken the methuselah. We track the shipment to New York and cross the Atlantic as stowaways on a cargo ship. Over at the big apple, we rescue and team up with Samuel, a recently sired Nosferatu, - [Samuel] I owe you all a life boon! I'll gladly join you and fight your enemies.
- [Pink] Oy, oyyy hold on! Who said we'd take you?! - gain access to the FBI "Mainframe" - [Christof] What manner of BEAST is this central computer, that it can besiege fortresses? - [Lily] Wow. But you've got a lot to learn.. - with the help of Dev/Null, a pretty funny Malkavian hacker - [Dev/Null] Hi Chris! Or is it Maliqui? Hi Pink! Assamite stupid name! - and eventually complete our coterie when we reunite with our old friend, Wilhelm Streicher. This is one of my favorite moments in the entire game, where the developers’ patience pays off big time.
We spent half the game with Wilhelm at our side until we got separated, and it takes another good one and a half chapters -so a good 6-8 hours I’d say- with Christof being the only fossil in the new world until our old friend reenters the scene, and conveniently unmasks Pink as an Assamite assassin. - [Pink] Abdul Al'Hassim, master disciple of the Assamites at your service. - It's really good stuff, and I remember that I was smiling ear to ear when I was reunited with Wilhelm for the first time I played through the game. - [Wilhelm] A lot can happen in 800 years.
- These are the moments that make this game super strong, narratively. Like, even though Pink turns out to bicker a lot with the rest of the coterie towards the reveal and ends up being a “traitor” in the end, every sidekick in this game grows on me in their own ways, it’s lovely. I enjoy having ideologically opposed characters in RPGs to create friction and all that. But despite the character dialogue interaction not being nearly as deep as in a Planescape: Torment for instance, I love that, at the end of the day, I’m just fond of everyone I’ve fought side by side with in this game. They’re all, as I said it before, good eggs in my book.
And this joy of reunion even carries over to when I encountered not-so-beloved characters again, that Christophe hasn’t seen in a millennium. Like Count Orsi, the former prince of Vienna that backstabbed us after we did his deeds and imprisoned our coterie in the Dungeons of the Teutonic Knights. We encounter him close to the end in his warehouse, finding that he played a vital part in the plot for the resurrection of Vukodlak. And although he was an insufferable cunt towards us, even meeting him again made me weirdly elated and happy. - [Orsi] You are so judgmental! - Maybe because it’s followed up by the even more satisfying honor to put him to eternal rest. (glass breaking, Orsi screaming) Revenge is a dish best served