(This is part of my journey going playing through 2004’s Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
Every good RPG has at least one area that helps to establish the game’s legacy, and for Bloodlines, it has to be the Ocean Hotel. While slightly hokey and crude by today’s standards, back when this game released it was a genuinely terrifying level that was right up there with your Silent Hills and Resident Evils of the day. It had me pretty freaked out playing through it when I was younger, and even now I can appreciate it as a second cousin to The Secret World.
Anyway, what we have here is a mission to enter a haunted hotel that is definitely, certainly, most assuredly not trying to be the Overlook Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining. Except it totally is, and that is OK.
There are no enemies to fight anywhere in this place, although you don’t know that the first time going in. No, what this level is about is trying to unsettle you through jump scares and excellent sound design. The hotel seems hellbent on keeping you away from the pendant you’re tasked with retrieving, and it’s not above flinging furniture, slamming doors, and playing with light switches to accomplish this.
Every once in a while, you get a flash of a ghost running through the place. This is not a very welcome scene, as it typically happens when you’re navigating the dark shadows of the basement. I had to reload a couple of times to be fast enough on the screenshot key to get her. Looks like she’s being chased, doesn’t it?
Through a handful of newspaper clippings littered around this burned-out hotel, a backstory starts to emerge. Looks like a whole family died here, and they did not die well.
Even as the hotel works against you — and it really does, from floors opening up under you to elevator cars crashing down on your head — this female ghost gradually makes it clear that she’s kind of on your side. She wants you to make it, and as such, she appears to point out places for you to go and things to see.
Hey! It’s the Happy Grinny Family!
So yeah, this being the Shining and all, apparently this locket ended up corrupting the mind of the dad over the course of a vacation and turned him all murdery. He went after his wife and kids and… well, there was an axe involved. Plus fire. The moral of this story is, don’t ever trust jewelry with cursed stats.
The dad — now an evil poltergeist — isn’t too pleased that I keep making progress. While the things he flings at me hurt, my ever-regenerating health bar (thanks, vampire blood!) keeps it from being an actual threat. It’s more psychological than anything else.
Probably the coolest part of this entire level is when I got to the kitchen and the poltergeist goes NUTS, flinging everything all around the place while playing with the gas jets on the stove. It’s pretty crazy to see in action, and it goes on for a long time. Guess that’s what happens when you have a hissy fit.
Eventually I get to the penthouse, where I’m thrown back in time (?) for a brief moment before the murders and am able to grab the pendant. Does this mean that I changed the course of history? From returning to the present to see the hotel — now empty — as much in shambles as it ever was, I guess not. Hopefully I put some spirits to rest, though.
Here’s a fun Bloodlines fact: This room is the ONLY place in the entire game that shows sunlight/daylight. Drink it up, you creatures of the night!