Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York kind of hit by surprise. With sequel coming out to platforms soon of the cult favorite classic, Vampire: The Masquerade, it is nice to have an appetizer while we await the main course. This visual novel of sorts brings the atmosphere and world fans will remember, and looks to set the stage for the grand ball. Does Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries Of New York hit the Switch with style, or does it leave us pining for more? Let’s find out.
If you are looking for a narrative, there is definitely a lot here to take in. Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York has players take the role of a newly sired vampire who is quickly thrown into a world of clans, scandal, and mystery in the dimly-lit New York streets. Who can you trust? Who will be your ticket to your next meal? What next? All of those decisions are mostly yours to make as you follow dialogue trees to progress forward.
Decisions feel meaningful, and the nuance in the storytelling keeps this vehicle moving forward at a swift pace. I sat down with this game for the first time late into the night, with plans to just play Coteries of New York for a bit and found myself resting the Switch over three hours later. The story is immersive and well written, and the characters and world are genuinely interesting and multi-dimensional. I have always loved vampire lore and was not too familiar with the original Masquerade, and I found this tale to be gripping. That said, I can see how some may not be able to connect with it, as it does feel as if it built for a specific audience, and not something the mainstream public are going to want to plunge into with possibly doing some research.
There is not a whole lot to say on the whole gameplay aspect of Coteries of New York. I mean, this is a visual novel so it basically takes you through the story with mild animations and character cuts displayed on the screen. The only thing the player really needs to do is make a decision from time to time, read, and take in everything in-between. There are times the writing and choices make you feel like you should be able to interact more or somehow find more involvement than what is given, but unlike the main franchise, this title is story driven and deviates little into any other genre.
There are some decent features that add a layer or two to Coteries of New York. Players have access to a dictionary that help them learn this world as they play, detailing terms that will be more kin to the franchise – rather than expecting the player to learn everything by context alone. Trying to build a faction can be a lot of fun and decisions again do feel necessary, but I do still think that players looking for more weight will be slightly disappointed as there is not a lot of extra features for the game overall. No ways to revisit moments in the story to an audit, no way to really experience the game in a new or meaningful way overall once it is finished. That doesn’t mean it will waste your time, it just is likely to leave you wanting a lot more by the time the credits roll and the blood has run dry.
I really dug the art style within Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York. Every character has a dark, if not gritty charm to them and expressions and personality are still present, despite animation. There are subtle places for animation, but most is visual novel fare, such as blood squirting or doors opening and closing. If you understand the concept you should be fine with this, but do realize that presentation can be a bit limited- even with the genre in mind and an imagination is going to be needed to get the most out of this experience.
The audio is fine. The sound effects and voice work help the story come forward, well placed and setting the mood for each chapter. The soundtrack is also on point, with atmospheric tunes that bellow in the background without being a large distraction. Again, not too much to say on the subject, but the gears here moving accordingly so know to crank up that volume while playing to get the full package.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York is a nice, if not limited offering for the Switch. The story is amazing, and since this is a visual novel, that should be enough to sell the game for anyone looking for a good story with vampires told in a rich setting. I do think the title may attract some who may be looking for something more profound mechanically, but most will find a filling and deep package at the core here that will get them ready for The Masquerade’s IP to expand even further.
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