Despite the captivating first game, the second game doesn’t seem to interest me somehow. Useless inner monologues fill most of the dialogues to shape the main character’s personality.
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Draw Distance
Publisher: Draw Distance
Release date: 10 Sep, 2020
Vampire: The Masquerade – Shadows of New York is a sequel of Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York (our review), telling the story of what happened one year after the first game. It’s still a visual novel in the Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition universe, with a new main character and improved features from the previous game. However, despite the improvements, some features in the first game are neglected in the second one. More on the review.
The game reuses a lot of assets from the first game with the addition of some new ones. Backgrounds still have the realistic look with slight animation on some people or objects to make it more alive while portraits are retaining the painting-like style with a more polished look. Some recurring characters from the first game also have their portrait redone, giving a different vibe from how they used to be.
Some improvements are also noticeable if you played the first game. Detailed scenes are added at certain points of the game, allowing you to see what was told in the narration instead of imagining it with the usual backgrounds and portraits. Some characters also have more than one portrait compared to the static, single portrait in the first game. While it’s not needed most of the time, sometimes they prove to be useful, especially when you see someone opening his/her mask.
A certain degree of understanding the Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition universe is needed to understand the story, unless if you want to refer to the dictionary section often. A lot of vampire-exclusive terms will be introduced as you play the game without explaining what they mean, forcing you to visit the dictionary section to learn about it – there was even a point where the game mentioned a new name out of nowhere without context. People who have played the first game will recognize the person, but those who aren’t will be left in the dark until the game introduced the person, vaguely. Some characters and events from the first game will also be connected to this game that you won’t be able to enjoy the game to its fullest if you didn’t play the first one beforehand.
For a story-driven game, filler monologues fill 80% of the story. Julia, the main character, seems to talk a lot in her head, to the point that she kept on bringing topics that have nothing to do with the story. Not only that it unnecessarily makes the game longer, but they also tend to be hard to understand, especially with the heavy use of exquisite words. Most dialogues also tend to be long that I had to re-read the full paragraph just to understand the context.
Side stories act as a filler to make the game last longer, nothing else. There are no chain side stories, meaning that everything will become of no value once you finished them. There is also nothing interesting unless if you want to know more about Julia’s friends and what’s happening to the world, which doesn’t do much in the first place.
There are 2 endings excluding one where the game ends its story abruptly if you choose the wrong choice. The game seems to note the lack of decision making in the first game and introduces two different endings based on your previous decision. Trait is introduced as a component that will affect Julia’s inner monologues, and with it, changing her decision that will lead to two different endings. Both endings are completely different from each other, with one revealing a twist.
Despite the unique endings, the conclusion feels like a joke. The game starts with a murder in place, making murder mystery to be the theme of the game. You’ll gather some clues from the crime scene and interrogate every suspect at first although everything doesn’t seem to matter in the end since all clues that you gathered won’t be used for solving the case. The main character will state some facts that were never mentioned throughout the game out of nowhere, making it impossible to deduce the perpetrator. There is some kind of twist in it, but the ridiculous conclusion to the murder mystery gave a bitter taste to my experience.
Different dialogue choices are available throughout the game, although not necessary. The game allows you to answer from a series of options sometimes, which don’t seem to affect anything. Most choices only affect the next few dialogues in the game and unlike the first game, you won’t get any extra info out of it – all choices will lead you to a slightly different answer from each other. There are only several dialogue choices that matters, which are related to the Trait mechanic that I had mentioned previously.
Length and Replayability
I finished the game in 6.2h and spent the rest of my playtime obtaining the other endings. The game can be finished faster if not for the useless monologue and side quests, which doesn’t affect the main story. It’s still worth playing the game for a second time though to unlock the other ending, or maybe a third time if you want to unlock all endings.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
The lack of relationships in this game makes the story feels empty. I enjoyed the relationships between all characters in the first game, despite what happened in the ending. However, most conversations in this game come from your inner monologue with a lot of fillers in it. There’s another person that the main character interacted with, and although I enjoyed their private time together, it feels too short, especially with their conversations being redundant at first.
This game doesn’t interest me as much as the first game, somehow. Sometimes, the wording feels alien to me, especially with the use of exquisite words and references that I didn’t get. Additionally, some people are talking too much that it took a lot of dialogue boxes just to explain something – I had to reread the whole paragraph after losing focus most of the time due to the wording. It makes me feel that the story was written by someone else because of it. That being said, I can’t seem to recommend the game to anyone unless if they want to experience more of the Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition universe and/or okay with reading a lot of monologues that have nothing to do with the story.