Developer / Publisher – Fast Travel Games
Price – US $29.99 / CAN 36.99 / EU €29.99 / UK £24.99
Release Date – November 02, 2023
Input – 2 x Motion Controllers
Play Area – Seated, Standing
Store Links – PlayStation, Meta
Reviewed on – PSVR 2
This is Vampire The Masquerade – Justice, the 2nd title from Fast Travel games that visit’s the World of Darkness with the 1st title, Wraith the Oblivion Afterlife placing you in the role of a ghoul and this casting you in the shoes of a much more deadly vampire out for revenge. For those that aren’t aware, the World of Darkness has been around since 1991 in the form of a tabletop card game but has seen many video game iterations with this being the 2nd to be in VR. You play as Justice, a vampire who has arrived in Venice Italy in search of answers surrounding your slain master and a stolen relic that was in his possession. It doesn’t take too long until you find yourself wrapped up in local Vampire politics and must navigate the living and undead to secure your own goals.
Justice is a stealth game 1st and foremost and anyone looking for something different should stay away from this one as while there are bouts of action in here, the emphasis of almost every stage is to remain unseen and kill as few humans as possible. This is of course quite a challenge and as of this review, I have yet to get through any stage without killing a foe or 2 or alerting guards to my presence, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Should you find yourself cornered or in need to kill someone, you have a few powers at your disposal that can kill from the shadows like a portal that summons tentacles that sucks the enemy into the void or use a dash attack that instantly kills most foes, and these are the way you should be killing enemies because getting up close and personal can be messy.
Your health and powers are attached to your hunger which can be satiated by sucking on some human necks or rats that scurry about each level. Using any of your powers, outside of teleportation and vampire vision, will increase your hunger so you’ll need to be very careful when you use your powers as I could rarely take on more than 2 enemies at a time without depleting my powers. Your vampire vision allows you to see heartbeat through walls (of humans and rats) as well as the direction humans are facing to make it easier to get around or kill them. Justice (whom you can choose to be male or female) can’t really take too many hits and with every guard armed with a firearm, taking even just a few shots can result in death and a restart at the last checkpoint. I know this is a game and that stealth is the way to play this, but sometimes Justice really felt like a pansy-ass vampire forced to lurk in the shadows lest he perish by nameless minion. Should you be spotted, you can knock these peons senseless and even kill them with a punch, but in almost every single encounter where fisticuffs were the answer, flailing my hands seemed to be the best option as hit detection was at best…random? Regardless, once I learned what to do and what not to did the I begin to enjoy the game and while that annoying hand to hand combat did turn up from time to time, I learned to avoid it and lean on my vampire abilities…or at least I did when I remembered too.
I actually really enjoy this game and just want to get my negatives out of the way 1st so bear with me on this one for another minute or so. Every stage has a main objective and usually 2 side objectives, don’t get spotted and don’t kill anyone. Completing any of these goals rewards you with points that can be spent on upgrading and unlocking new undead abilities. So, with the emphasis on just trying to avoid or distract foes (which you can do by tossing bricks and bottles) and realizing that using any powers really sapped the life out of Justice, I sort of forgot about my abilities and played this like a traditional stealth game, which it’s not. It wasn’t until the halfway point in the game, where I had to sneak through a mansion packed with guard and surveillance cameras did I rely on my powers once more, and when that happened, I really started to have a lot of fun.
I still never managed to get though a stage while completing those bonus objectives, but using my powers of invisibility to just walk past guards, tossing a brick so my prey would turn there backs to me for an easy meal, using my cross bow to stun or even kill humans and when required, just straight up wrecking fools with my various vampiric attacks was a blast, so much so that once I beat the game, I went back to those 1st few stages to play them “properly” as I had awkwardly fumbled through them the 1st time. This goes right along with upgrading those abilities, making me feel more and more like a badass and while I do still have some issue with how fast these powers deplete your hunger, I can’t deny just how much fun I had once I committed to the role of a sneaky, slightly cowardly vampire. Climbing along up the city-scapes, sneaking around in sewers, crawling though game sized vents and even solving a few environmental puzzles (there aren’t too many of them) along with the dynamic nature of each mission really never had me fatiguing on the game, which is great! It does feel like Dishonored in just how your stealth and abilities are handled and while it doesn’t have the depth of that title, it does have enough varying mechanics to keep things from never getting stale. Each stage gives you free reign to tackle it however you want and while some sections do seem to force a specific play style, if you can do it another way, you can try and I love that about this game.
Along with the main story are a few bonus chapters that become available as well-hidden collectibles tucked away in nearly every stage that will be added to your trophy room back at your hideout, but also give a little story surrounding you or some of the characters you’ll meet up with during the 6-hour campaign. Once you beat the game, you can revisit past stages to find any missed collectibles and once you get that crossbow, you can try and shoot down medallions scattered throughout the campaign, if you care about trophies.
In playing both versions of the game I did experience the exact same issues that I have already mentioned as well some glitches like Justice’s voice switching from male to female during a cut scene, a boss battle where said boss froze in place and wouldn’t take damage forcing a checkpoint reset, which subsequently had me load to the start of that battle, but had me look at a black screen while the boss got a free attack on me until I could see. I also had troubles grabbing notes and drawer handles causing some annoyances and on a few occasions, with my arms being visible ( you can toggle it so you just see your hands) they would go haywire while trying to grab at door handles. All these issues are minor but did impact my play in a negative way and I am hoping the developer addresses these issues if not just to make the overall experience a little smoother.
Now when it comes to presentation, it’s a mixed bag no matter which headset you play this on, but with that said, once I played the PSVR 2 version, I never went back thanks to the inclusion of dynamic lighting, additional particle effects and dramatically less pop-in. The Quest 3 version does look fairly good thanks in large part to the cartoonish art style that, and I hate to say it yet again but, looks like it could fit right in with the Saints & Sinners games. Venice is one the coolest locales to set a game in and adding the verticality that a vampire should have really makes it fun to explore every path available too not only see what stealthy option are available, but to find those secret rooms that contain those collectibles. It won’t just be the city streets you are stalking with some levels taking you though the sewers and a few have you navigating mansions and churches that change up how the game plays quite nicely. I found the texture quality to be high across either version though the additional details on the PSVR 2 just added a little more authenticity to the setting be it more dynamic water textures, rays of light through a curtained window and higher quality details on just about everything. Many of the foes you face are masked up, which does make them all pretty much look the same but it’s many of the speaking characters that add life to each scenario despite the fact that the mouth movement seems restricted when compared to the words they are speaking. This isn’t the best-looking VR game I’ve ever seen, but the Venice setting and the little details you’ll see throughout the game, minus the character models, make this something I would show off to company.
Fast Travel Games has yet to let me down when it comes to audio design and, minus 1 minor foible, Vampire delivers a top-quality audio experience. As I said, at the games onset you can choose to make Justice male or female and you are fully voiced. Much of the game is scripted but, on a few occasions, and with an ability, you can unlock additional conversation options that make Justice feel a little more like you as you can choose from a variety of responses. The voice acting is great and fits the somewhat ‘B’ movie nature of it all and as the plot unfolds, I appreciated how the story was all told. 3D audio is on point, which is fantastic as audio queues from patrolling soldiers may be your only sign that they are near if you aren’t using you life detection abilities. On that note, the roaming humans constantly spout dialogue that does make you aware of their presence, though they often repeat the same lines over and over and even engage in conversation even though they are alone making them feel like NPC’s from a bygone era and while humorous at times, did hamper immersion a bit. Music is also of the cinematic variety, typically matching the action though on more than a few occasions I did notice it’s absence, which only heightened the tension of staying out of sight. I did find the Quest version to be a bit dark with many alleyways and sewers bathed in pure black while the PSVR 2 version was much brighter, too a point where I could see some people complain but given that you play as a creature of the night, I actually liked how bright the PSVR 2 version appeared as it made sense to me that a vampire wouldn’t have trouble seeing in the dark.
As far as haptics go on the PSVR 2, they are in full effect with the headset rumbling when you take damage or sense a presence and sense controllers rumbling when your health is low, when powers are used or really when any actions are taken, which only add to the immersion. Oh, as far as reprojection on the PSVR 2, I didn’t notice it if it’s being utilized, and it performed near flawlessly.
I need to emphasize that the shortcomings that I mentioned don’t really detract from the overall package and as long as you play this as a stealth game, you are going to have a great time. I enjoyed the story, the presentation and once I started to embrace my powers, I felt like a vampire, stalking my prey, sneaking past them and feeling all the more powerful while I was doing that. If you aren’t into stealth games, thank look on as this isn’t for you, but if like or don’t mind stealth in VR, Justice is one of the better ones I have ever played.
Fast Travel Games provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!