Vampire Masquerade: Coteries of New York
Developer: Draw Distance
Publisher: Draw Distance
Genre: RPG, Adventure, Horror
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 24/03/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Who doesn’t love a good vampire game? Ok, well, maybe they are not for everybody, but if you’re reading this you must at least have an interest in the subject matter.
Me, I love vampires, so when I saw Coteries of New York up for grabs, I just knew it was a game for me. I knew that Vampire Masquerade was a tabletop game series, but I have never played them. Eager to avoid spoilers ahead of my review, I write this essentially blind. I did, however, check out the Wikipedia page for the series as a whole and know that there is a rich and quite expansive lore around the world. I only checked his once I was done with my original playthrough and knowing this does somewhat change my experience and thoughts on the game, but not substantially.
Meaning, prior experience of the series or the games may be advantageous, but certainly not necessary.
So, did Coteries of New York suck like a hungry fledgeling or did it reign supreme over the genre like a true prince of darkness? I guess you will have to keep reading to find out. Or scroll to the bottom, but you wouldn’t do that.
The game is essentially a visual novel. This means you have a read—a LOT. For me, that’s perfect. I love reading, but for those looking for a vampire game with deep and immersive gameplay, this just isn’t for you. Maybe you would be better to look at Vampyr or some other title.
I really liked the layout of the game. There was a dark and gritty art style to it, and while I’m no expert and couldn’t name the font, there was suitable thought put into it to make it all mesh together well. The rich colour and attention to detail made each screen, and each location come to life. While the scenes were mostly static, there were small flickers of movement that added to the detail. A shadow moving out of the corner of your eye, or a flickering lightbulb right at the back.
Yet, despite the games lovely look, I cannot say it is a great game. One of the biggest things behind this statement Is the audio. I get it, the game is a book, you have lots of reading to do, and you don’t want to be distracted by a soundtrack, but something other than a bit of ambient noise would have been nice.
The great work done by the art style and the graphics team was let down by a completely un-atmospheric audio experience. It wasn’t merely that it was forgettable; there was simply nothing there to start with. That may sound a bit vicious, but I genuinely struggled to pay attention sometimes because my mind grew bored.
When it comes to the game itself, as I alluded to earlier, it is a text-driven decision-based game. This means the gameplay is reading a few scenes of text and then making a choice. While these were always varied, let’s simplify for the reasons of being concise and say the options were variations of:
- Use Vampire Power
This is where I am going to have to make a few assumptions, because, as I said, I didn’t want my review to be influenced by external sources. Each decision you make would seem to have an impact on the story. I get the impression that there are several endings possible within the boundaries of the game and depending on the choices you make, so the direction of your character is steered. Yet, I also believe some scenes are pre-determined and no matter what choice you make, attack, or stand down, kill or merely scare, the end result is the same.
At least, I hope that to be the case, for if not, and the end I received was the one true ending, then there is something deeply broken with the game. For me, the game just ended, and really, just as I thought the story was beginning to unfold. There was no closure, no answers given, and plenty of new questions implied.
I will most likely try another playthrough at some point just to see, making random rather than what I felt were careful choices, just to see what happens. However, it won’t be any time soon, mainly because of the lack of atmosphere the game creates, and the immense lack of closure I got cannot possibly be rectified, in my mind, with a single replay of the game.
There were entire side quests/character routes that I never even get the chance to explore before the game so suddenly ended, and that I feel is a flaw in the game. Maybe I’m approaching it with the wrong mindset, and the concept of replays is where I should be, but then a better effort was needed in making the game more engrossing.
It came close. Some elements of the story were very good and very well written, but other times I was left feeling lost in a world of overt cliché and unoriginality.
Overall, I found the concept of the game to be the best part, and it was sadly downhill once I started playing it. The descent was not fast, and it was not extreme, but sadly it fell short of being good or memorable. Yet, I cannot help but feel; a few small adjustments could easily make this game a lot better.
Who knows, maybe a second playthrough will be more engrossing.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can grab your copy of Vampire Masquerade: Cotteries of New York on the eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.