Vampire: The Masquerade - Justice proves that I am an idiot | GAME3A

Vampire: The Masquerade - Justice proves that I am an idiot

I consider myself to be quite an intelligent individual. I am aware of the capital city of Slovakia. I know the number of faces a dodecahedron has. I ...

David K Sept 05, 2023
Vampire: The Masquerade - Justice proves that I am an idiot

I consider myself to be quite an intelligent individual. I am aware of the capital city of Slovakia. I know the number of faces a dodecahedron has. I am capable of spelling "onomatopoeia." All the important matters. Typically, this is reflected in video games. I thoroughly enjoy a well-crafted puzzle. I make careful decisions in TRPGs. I solve cryptic riddles. However, Vampire: The Masquerade - Justice proves unequivocally and irrevocably that I am nothing short of a fool.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Justice is a VR game, and like all VR games at Gamescom, the demo begins with the question of what I know about VR. The general public is still slow to embrace VR - given the scarcity of games and the high prices, I can't blame them - and many people who ultimately test VR games at Gamescom must also learn how to handle the VR headset. Fear not, I told them. I own a PS VR2 and have been playing Vampire: The Masquerade since it was a board game. I've got this. Dear reader, not a single part of me had it under control.

Justice is a stealth game that fits well within the series but is a rarity in the VR world. Throughout the demo, this aspect worked quite well - I climbed up pipes and stealthily maneuvered along ledges, fully embracing the VR style, accompanied by the atmospheric sounds of the VtM games that one could perfectly immerse themselves in through VR. Even the disappointing Blood Hunt received praise primarily for its visual effects and world-building, making the ability to wander around in virtual reality a significant selling point. However, as a stealth game (not to mention the general limitations that come with VR), a substantial portion of these explorations must take place in alleyways and enclosed corridors, and one can sense the game struggling a bit against this constraint.

Vampire The Masquerade - Justice Proves I Am An Idiot

The most intriguing mechanic is the healing, where one must grab an unsuspecting victim and then lean the body forward to drink from their neck. It's a captivating design choice, but it can be a bit excessive. Justice demands that you keep track of many things, and healing is not just healing, which brings us to my foolishness.

You can craft two different crossbow bolts by flipping your hands upside down and reaching for the air. This feels both tactile and excessively fiddly for a stealth game. Upon learning about it, I crafted a few bolts only to realize that I was too hungry to do anything else. That meant I was restricted in what I could do for most of the demo's duration. To be fair, I skipped some levels, so there would have been a learning curve, but I felt hindered during my time in the game because I hastily rushed to use the tools at my disposal. Stealth games involve a give and take, but the inability to craft the things one might need felt constraining.

Vampire The Masquerade - Justice Proves I Am An

I entered the level, and directly across from me was a guard. Aside from the general difficulties with depth perception in VR, it was easy to put him to sleep with a crossbow bolt and jump over to him. However, I then had to drink his blood, which forced me to lean forward significantly – not a pleasant task when wearing a quest headset over my own glasses. I had satisfied my hunger, but not enough to do any of the things I was too hungry for – another hurdle that feels unnecessarily punishing for players who want to explore the available systems. The mentioned guard then stumbled forward and fell off the stage, drawing everyone's attention to my presence. I could still hide, but a smooth run was impossible, and once again, it felt a bit like a punishment for engaging with the game's systems, especially since this guard had been so clearly presented to me as a snack.

From then on, the majority of the level was hectic, with little room for being discovered, and exploring the map proved challenging in VR. Moving low and taking out enemies resulted in them dying too slowly if I could only bite them from behind. Moving high often meant being spotted by snipers, and there was no option to throw caution to the wind - this is a stealth game, and one must play in stealth mode.

Vampire The Masquerade - Justice Proves I Am

It's a shame that my eagerness to test the crafting system and my general foolishness in handling traditional stealth mechanics turned the demo into an experience of repetitive frustration (while the notoriously uncomfortable Quest headset for glasses wearers attempted to break my nose). Apart from combat, the ability to use Vampire Eagle Vision to search for clues and interact with objects in the game world drew me much more deeply into the world. Stealth is all about avoiding combat, but I'll try to avoid the fight and simply roam through the city.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Justice will be released on November 2nd for Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest 3, and PlayStation VR2, and is best suited for people who are less foolish than I am. It captures the tone of the game but is more geared towards stealth purists, which is already a niche within the VR niche. A world awaits to be explored, but I'm not sure if I have it in me to venture into it.