In a brand new weekly feature, the team at the most awesome That’s Not Current will be drawing your attention to a classic video game of old that we shall be formally requisitioning to be reborn, revisited, rebooted, or remastered. We will explain what makes each game such a timeless classic still worthy of attention, pitch what it would be all about and get all realistic by discussing the possibilities of it actually ever happening.
“We, the most awesome and fabulous team at That Not Current, have decreed in all our wisdom and obsession with the wonders of retro gaming, that the following game should be brought back to life and herby submit this formal request to make it so:”
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004)
THE PLAYERS: Troika Games, Activision, Jason D. Anderson, Tim Cain, David Mullich
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines is based on White Wolf Publishing’s World of Darkness tabletop RPG series and is an indirect sequel to Nihilistic Software’s Vampire: The Masquerade: Redemption released in 2000. The game follows the trials of a fledgling vampire in present day Los Angeles, unwittingly being caught up in a power struggle and the appearance of the mysterious ancient Ankaran sarcophagus that threatens all vampires with their end of days.
Using the revolutionary Source engine that was being developed by Valve at the same time with Half Life, it was a hugely ambitious game for its time, folding together both first and third-person perspectives into a deep and immersive action RPG. Furthermore, it featured a cutting edge narrative with players actions and decisions alternating and directing the direction of the story, with the choice of the players starting clan also dramatically altering the script and story. With a very dark, edgy and slick design visual and some outstanding voice acting, the game was beautifully endowed with the vampire lore presented in a rich and engaging manner resulting in a truly unique and groundbreaking game.
However, that is only half the story.
Despite the involvement of many hugely respected video game designers — including Fallout design team Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky and Jason D. Anderson as well as David Mullich of Heroes and Might and Magic fame — the game was far to ambitious a project from a small, newly-established studio like Troika and found itself very much in development hell. The complication of the brand new Source engine, the fact the design team were used to turn based games, the scope of rendering everything in first and third person and just the sheer scale of the game lead to the game becoming bogged down over three years. Finally, Activision issued an ultimatum with a concrete deadline and as such the game was released without proper testing, and ultimately was horrifically broken. Both that and the fact it was released on the coat tails of the quite sublime Half Life meant the game bombed, despite receiving very strong reviews for what was essentially an incomplete game.
Shortly afterwards, Troika went bust, but many members of the design team worked unpaid to get the game patched to working order. Since then a vibrant fan driven community has spearheaded a steady release of patches and updates in the decade following its release.
WHY DOES IT NEEDS TO BE REBORN?
If you have ever played Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines then you know why. Not only is this game a multi-layered. engrossing treat, it is still so undeniably unique. No game has ever replicated the scale, depth or vibe of Bloodlines. Given it now claims a deep-rooted status as a true cult classic, the fact no one has tried to replicate it is beyond surprising.
While reflectively this game is praised for its freshness and boldness, especially now having long been patched to a full working version, no one has tried to emulate the style or feeling of it and to this day it quite easily remains the absolutely definitive vampire game.
And a game this rich and rewarding really needs to be resurrected to roam once again. Like the legendary vampires it portrays, it has truly untapped potential to come back to the dead as an immortal presence.
WHAT WOULD WE WANT TO SEE IN ANY REBIRTH?
Released long before the emergence of the truly open world video games, we can only drool at the thought of a Bloodlines game set in a world as big and beautiful as Grand Theft Auto V or Fallout 4. User driven narrative has also further evolved since 2004, thanks to Alpha Protocol, Mass Effect and the Telltale games and it would be mesmerising to see these much broader possibilities applied to a game that set an early benchmark for player choice having repercussions in the video game. Naturally the advancement in graphics would allow for a game that could be truly delicious to digest, with a blank canvas to create a world that could rival all, staking a claim as video games as true art.
Yet, what we want more than anything else is a game true to its origins. A game that transcends boundaries and is so inceptive that could it stand alone in a genre of its own creation.
IS IT LIKELY?
In May 2016, White Wolf Publishing — now owned by video game developer Paradox Interactive and makers of Crusader Kings II — filled a trademark for “Vampire Bloodlines” in the category of video game.
Now while that is a million miles away from any sort of formal announcement and is akin to adding two and two and getting 6743, it still perks up the blood lust for what it could mean. The fact this act has been carried out by the source authors of World of Darkness causes unbridled levels of intrigue and excitement. Especially when they have repeatedly stated that they believe there is quite simply not enough games set in the World of Darkness universe – here here!
And while it is not a new game in the series, the absolutely stellar work by the games fans, most notably a chap called Werner Spahl, in patching the game has been relentless. Spahl’s latest update was such a evolution, changing the game dramatically to the point it feels very much like a new game. Also, the online community continues to work away on some amazing and fascinating mods, such as improved graphics, ensuring that just like the vampires it portrays, Bloodlines isn’t truly dead.
Still we want more…and we simply refuse to accept that something this damn awesome will stay un-sired forever. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow…but one day Vampires: The Masquerade will rise from its crypt to claim dominion over human kind once more.
And we simply cannot wait.