(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.)
Part of the reason that so many people have come to appreciate Bloodlines over the years is probably because this game actually does put the “roleplay” back in RPG. It’s a remarkably adaptive game in terms of choices, dialogue, and approaches, and I love getting into the mad humor of a Malkavian.
Still trying to appease Theresa after pulling off the hotel exorcism, I run over to the local art gallery and slash up paintings of the original vampire (the biblical Caine, if you wanted to know) before fighting off a blood-thing that comes out of it. By now I’m slashing so hard and fast with a knife that battles rarely last more than a few seconds. I’m a terror.
I do take a detour to off an Asian vampire that’s been harassing Knox, although I quickly learn that Knox is very manipulative and is trying to get me to play assassin for his master’s purposes. I guess I should’ve listened to the oracle on the beach who told me that I could pretty much trust no one.
As Theresa and Jeanette’s “relationship” continues to deteriorate, I’m given one final mission by them to go to a diner and basically be jumped by a swarm of thugs. Unfortunately, fighting them off summons the police, which introduced me to Bloodlines’ primitive GTA-like threat system. If you do something that earns a police presence, then you’ll start getting hunted by cops for a while until you find a place to hole up until the heat dies down. I… didn’t wait, and I paid the penalty for it.
Back at the Asylum, Jeanette and Theresa go into a full-fledged dual personality breakdown, showing off the half-and-half natures at play here. I didn’t have the stats needed to make them both happy, so this playthrough I ended up appeasing Theresa, which meant that Jeanette got killed by her sister. Somehow. Don’t ask me, the game wasn’t very clear on that part.
The final mission of Santa Monica is to blow up a Sabbat warehouse. By now, I’ve accrued so many character points that I was able to buy the Vision of Death skill. This is, as the name implies, an “I win” button. It kills any human with a single use and hurts supernatural critters something fierce. I had a lot of fun running into a pack of bad guys and alternating between slashing and visioning them to death.
At the end of the mission — warehouse successfully ka-blooeyed — a werewolf bumps into me and we have a chat. This is Beckett, supposedly some big figure in this game universe, but to me he’s just a guy with a penchant for history and some 90s-looking sunglasses.
With that, it’s off to the downtown area! There’s an unfortunate intermission in which I’m ambushed by a gang of Sabbat and nearly killed. Nines, an Anarch vampire, comes along to save me and start moving the game into a tri-faction direction. Three factions plus numerous vampire clans makes for a confusing narrative foundation.
As an aside, this fourth wall breaking line is pretty funny, although the Sabbat here might just be a little crazy.
The Prince summons me upon arrival and tasks me with another big mission — to investigate an abandoned ship that’s apparently carrying a very important sarcophagus that’s freaking everyone out for some reason. Guess it’s time to explore my new setting!