I’m a vampire. I swear. I’m 41, and feel like I’ve done so much and lived forever. Where I have lived on, my friends have gone, so I keep making new young friends in life, but eventually they all go too (“Going” in this case probably means getting married and having kids and moving on with their lives rather than dying, but you get my analogy?!).
Something that many might not know about me is that I am a huge vampire fan. I grew up on Anne Rice novels, and loved everything she wrote (later on I read her erotic novels which she published under a fake name, they were super fucked up!!!). Her novel “Interview with the Vampire” ended up becoming a pretty successful movie, one which I’ve watched a few times, and enjoyed (but ultimately I love Bram Stroker’s 1992 Dracula starring Garry Oldman as the Nosferatu the most).
I was more punk than goth when I was younger, but I hung out with goths all day long as my long term girlfriend Caryn at the time (we dated for 7 years) was sister to Sydney’s King Goth Charles Gillespie, who ran and owned Club 77 for years, had Marylin Manson hang out at his house, which has so many dead animals hanging on the walls you’d think you were hanging out at an abattoir!
I collected and read the entire Sandman series of graphic novels by Neil Gaiman too, love his artwork, love the fantasy world he has created, love Dave McKeon’s heavy layered photoshop work (a huge inspiration to me back in high school). I’m still hopeful they will one day make a movie on The Sandman, the lore is there for the taking!
Somewhere along the lines Twilight happened, and maybe Twilight killed the vampire for me just like Fast & Furious killed car culture. Either way I’ve not really felt attached to any kind of vampiric love for a while, until now!
Enter Vampire Bloodlines. I stumbled upon this title when searching for the best Role Playing Game (RPG) of all time. It came up time and time again. Made in 2004 (it’s old!), it was a rushed release and on release it was so broken that people could not play it. The game never sold, but over time a community of fans fixed the game to the point where they’ve released an unofficial patch which realises much of what the games developers wanted to do with the game in the first place.
Isn’t that just amazing?! I’ve seen it with Fallout 4 and the community of modders who not only fix bugs in the game, but make everything about the game better, from textures through to gameplay mechanics. What you have to realise is that it’s not the developers who are shit here, it’s the fact that there are a shitload more amazing ‘developers’ in the world than in one studio, so when a game developer releases a game which the community can mod, it’s only fair that there will be better coders/designers/artists out in the world (in comparison to the smaller pool of talent in one dev team).
So, back onto vampires, goths, and games. I decided to download Bloodlines off Steam (it was $25AUD), I downloaded the official patch, installed it without issues and the game is running fine so far. There’s no way of using a controller as there are a LOT of keyboard commands you can use, it’s going to take a while for me to be completely fluent with them all, but Bloodlines isn’t exactly an action first person shooter so I’m sure I’ll feel more comfortable with the controls over time as it’s a slower paced game.
When you launch the game you’re thrown into character creation, definitely one of my favourite parts of starting any new game (and I love that dark Massive Attack like track on the home screen! Sets the mood right!).
Like Fallout New Vegas’ start with the Doc. Bloodlines starts with a psych test to help figure out what class of vampire suits you best. I loved the psych questions right away and I answered them as honest as I could, this gave me the class of “Malkavian”, the crazy ones, which I’ve read over and over again as one of the most fun play though characters in the game as their dialogue is totally whack and almost nonsensical (which then makes for some fun unexpected results when you’re forced to make a choice). The Malkavian character is one that a lot of Bloodlines players suggest as a 2nd play though just for the sheer fun of it. It’s probably not the best character for a first play though due to the fucked up dialogue, but hey it’s what I got so I’m sticking with it.
If you answered in other ways you could have gotten Nosferatu for example, these guys are so ugly that gameplay would force you to always be lurking in the shadows and underground tunnels for the entire game. Talking to other NPC’s to gather info from them becomes impossible as you’re so not human looking that most of them will scream and run away from you. Unlike Skyrim where it almost doesn’t really matter what class you choose as in the end you can get any class to work once you’re levelled up enough, with Bloodlines classes it really seems to matter which class you choose and that’s an awesome thing (especially for game re-playability).
After the character creation screen you’re thrown into a cut scene which really shows how dated the graphics are, but you know what? Despite a low polygon count the expressions on the characters are better than this year’s 2017 Mass Effect Andromeda. Far from realistic, but the expressions are there and the voice acting is bang on. The tutorial at the start throws you into the basics, yup there’s a lot you can do in this game and surprisingly it’s not just a point and click RPG but much more dynamic than I originally thought.
It turns out you can play first person and 3rd person, and you have all the controls of a FPS, and that’s because this game has been built on an early Unreal engine (blew my mind and makes so much sense as to why I’m loving it right now). Bloodlines worked originally as a turn based Dungeons and Dragons style board game of sorts, but when it went digital it didn’t do the RPG point and click Fallout 1 style game, but went right into open world FPS, much more like modern Fallout games. Really impressive.
What I’m sincerely loving the most is the general goth vibe of the game. It’s so bang on I can’t believe it, and it’s surely the real reason as to why so many people out there think the writing in this game is so good. I don’t think it’s the writing. I think it’s the fact that the guys who made this game had to be goths, or at least were mates with goths, because some bits in this game are just SO goth it brings me back, hard!
Just seeing goth guys dance on the dance floor, IT’S BANG ON! If you’ve ever seen goths dance, it looks like they’re invisible sword fencing, or they look like gorillas going through the mist.. the game nails it, and seeing other NPC’s randomly joining in on the dace floor was cool, then when I randomly decided to have a closer look at the dancers a prompt appeared for me to start dancing too, BANG ON! This is just the kind of explorative mechanic that gets me in a good game.
SO I’m barely out of the tutorial, but I’m somehow I’m already hooked. This is amaze as most games usually start out super slow and boring, especially tutorial bits. I’ve only met a couple of NPC’s so far but the ones I’ve met have been fucking amazing. One vampire by the beach I stumbled into had an Aussie accent, and a great bit of dialogue to go through. Pretty sure he wasn’t anyone special in the game, just filler, but fucking good filler at that as he was super engaging.
Really looking forward to more Bloodlines, mainly because the culture of it all feels so bang on, respectful and legit. I literally feel like I am hanging out with my old goth mates again, for real! Will post up a final review at some point I’m sure.