(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.)
Bloodlines is roughly divided into four acts, with each one taking place in a different L.A. setting. As I moved into the second one, Downtown, I traded the more run-down streets of Santa Monica for a more posh — but no less seedy — upscale district.
As you can see, Downtown is roughly laid out on a single street that winds its way from east to west. I like it less than Santa Monica, mostly because of the amount of back-and-forth running that takes place. Oh! It’s also a place where I’m able to trade up my clothes, and here I breathed a sigh of relief to finally get rid of the somewhat embarrassing faux-cheerleader outfit that my Malkavian was wearing. The heavy clothes, I discovered, ended up being a leather outfit with chaps that I can’t actually show you because I have some decency standards here on this blog. At least the game lets me play in first-person mode and I can ignore what my character looks like for the most part.
Roaming around the streets, I kept on seeing these CDC hazmat people standing all about. You’d think that would disturb people, but no, everyone else is like “business as usual!” and ignores them. Me, on the other hand, gets another jolt of Secret World vibe from this game and gets intrigued at the notion that there’s this supernatural plague that’s ripping through the area.
Turns out that some vamp is doing all of this intentionally, and my new contacts make it very clear that it’d be a good thing if I put an end to it for everyone’s sake.
Bloodlines really does have a great design in terms of plunging players into this (probably) unfamiliar setting that’s brimming with all sorts of lore. Santa Monica was mostly about getting used to being a vampire and what that means, while Downtown then transitions into explaining (and showing) the different vampire clans and factions. By the way, clan is like a “race” that confers different approaches and styles, while the three factions (the rule-following Camilla, the anarchist Anarchs, and the savage Sabbat) take in any who share their viewpoint.
The above picture was from a Tremene mansion that had a cool effect — you could only get to the heart of the mansion if you took right turns at every intersection. Otherwise, you’d just end up at the start over and over again.
Me? I just started chewing into the various side quests and worked on establishing myself in this region while gathering up all of those precious, precious experience points. Plus, I keep getting a kick out of choosing the (red) Malkavian crazy dialogue option when I want to convince an NPC by way of madness. It’s very unique for RPGs.
Eventually I do find — and kill — the plaguebearer who’s been infecting everyone, but the bad news is that she’s only one of at least two (maybe more?) that are doing this for some unknown reason.
The Camilla Prince sends me on his own quest, which is to sneak onto a container ship and investigate a sarcophagus that has the entire supernatural community in an uproar. I only confirm that it’s there, which feels like a letdown after spending a lot of effort trying to get through this level without hurting any cops or being seen.
Oh hey, it’s Heather! You know, Heather, the girl from the clinic that I turned into a ghoul in order to save her life. She’s now completely in my thrall without understanding why and following me around like a puppy dog. There are a lot of moral options to pick when dealing with her, from shooing her away to taking advantage of her to using her as a spare blood pack. Personally, I found it quite creepy how entranced she was with me, because it kind of reminded me of Overly Attached Girlfriend.
At least all of my sneaking and kow-towing to the various leaders paid off handsomely in an upgraded apartment! I love the huge aquarium. Kind of wish there was more to do in this place, but it’s still nice to have a “home” in an RPG like this.