(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.)
And welcome back to the freakshow that is Bloodlines! I really like how this game excels in starting you at the very bottom of the ladder in this new-to-you and mysterious society and then encourages you to work your way up. So while the opening area isn’t as high stakes nor too difficult, the quests and characters still manage to be pretty interesting. Honestly, it reminds me a LOT of The Secret World’s approach.
The centerpiece of Santa Monica is the Asylum, a club for vampires and their lackeys. It’s a nice safe zone with a couple of “blood dolls” who don’t mind being fed upon and filling up your blood meter, which takes a lot of the pressure off of having to maintain this. Plus, I met Jeanette, one of the twin sister owner/operators of the establishment. She’s easily the most recognizable character from the game, having been featured on the box and promotional art. My character calls her a “two-faced daughter of Janus,” which is a lot more shrewd than you’d think for a crazy Malkavian.
Among my humble origin quests include working for a local bounty hunter to track down a few people, which is well and fine with me. I also help out E, a “thin blood” vampire who wants to find his sire, who turns out to be captured my the local blood bank for forceable extraction. She gets hers, though, by going totally feral on a nurse when you release her from the chair.
Going back to the bounty hunter, one of his quests sends me looking for a guy who vanished — right into the basement of a very suspicious prosthetics dealer. So yeah, the guy not only sells prosthetic limbs, but he kidnaps and amputates from others for some reason. Maybe to drive up sales? You’d think that people would be a little reluctant to return. Anyway, he’s dead now, so don’t worry on that front.
There are a lot of side quests to do (which I attempt, because I need the XP to level up my skills), as well as a main storyline to follow. This begins with a beat-up ghoul named Mercurio, who asks me to recover some stolen explosives from a local drug den.
Much like Deus Ex, Bloodlines offers many approaches to level objectives based on your play type and skills. For example, the drug den level can be cleared out by force (the obvious choice) or by social skills (seduction/intimidation) or by stealth. I was going to stealth, but I got spotted and decided to see how many I could take out with just a knife.
All of them, it turns out.
Next on the main storyline is a quest to make peace between a local Nosferatu (super ugly vampires) and Theresa, the other owner of the Asylum. She’s willing to forgive and forget if I’m able to help her secure a spoooooooooky haunted house that she wants to renovate and flip on the market.
OK, so spoilers in this last paragraph, but this whole series is spoilers so oh well. The big reveal that will happen later is that Jeanette and Theresa are, in fact, the same person. I forgot this until I got to this room and heard the arguing through the door, then saw the one room split into two for each personality. Then recall happened, and I have to say that when you know this fact, talking with either one or listening to them “argue” takes on a whole different subtext.