It’s not even close to Halloween and my last week has been full of two classic horror franchises taking up my gaming time. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it’s worth noting that I have many, many hours to go before I can give you the full goods on either Evil Dead: The Game or Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, but I wanted to at least share my initial impressions on both.
First up is the immediately engaging Evil Dead: The Game, which is now out for consoles and PCs. I’ve been playing it on PlayStation 5, where it looks staggeringly great. Here’s the logline on what the game is all about:
Inspired by the iconic horror, humor and action of the Evil Dead franchise, Evil Dead: The Game brings the series’ biggest characters together in a pulse-pounding battle with the forces of darkness. Work as a team of four survivors to kick Deadite butt and banish the vile Kandarian Demon. Or become the Demon yourself, using its powers of possession to stop the good guys dead and swallow their souls!
Evil Dead: The Game delivers the ultimate Evil Dead action experience. Choose your squad with fan-favorite characters from every era of the franchise, including Ash, Kelly Maxwell, Pablo Simon Bolivar, Annie Knowby, Scotty and Lord Arthur. Battle with more than 25 hard-hitting weapons, like the good ol’ chainsaw and boomstick, and level up a variety of character classes with their own unique abilities to survive the night in multiplayer and bonus single-player missions.
The title is officially licensed by Boss Team Games from Renaissance Pictures, leading European production and distribution company STUDIOCANAL, leading entertainment company Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), and global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) to develop the first multi-platform console and PC game based on “The Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn,” and “Army of Darkness” films and the STARZ “Ash vs Evil Dead” television series. The game is developed and published by Saber Interactive and Boss Team Games.
It’s worth noting that I am a casual Evil Dead fan, and even still, I was immediately drawn into this game. The dark vibe is right on, the graphics are solid, and having the quips from the one and only Bruce Campbell pop up make this game feel just right. There are a lot of horror games out there right that have licensed some notable horror icons; Dead By Daylight and Friday The 13th: The Game are the obvious ones I’m referring to, but having played them both I really haven’t felt the same level of engagement as I’ve had with Evil Dead: The Game. The controls are super intuitive, which can often be troublesome in horror games, and I feel there’s just enough handholding without the game losing the element of surprise (or scares).
Evil Dead: The Game can be challenging, mind you; I’ve restarted the first mission multiple times and have felt pretty frustrated getting ”this” close to beating the level and then having to restart. But overall, this is a loving title that longtime fans of Ash should absolutely love, but that should also appeal to newcomers to the world of Evil Dead as well.
While it may not have the legacy or pop culture pedigree that Evil Dead has, Vampire: The Masquerade is a franchise that has its own devoted following. Beginning as a table top game, it’s been adapted as television series (Kindred: The Embraced) and a series of video games (you can read our review of the recent Vampire The Masquerade – Coteries of New York here), and now we’ve got the massive Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong available on consoles.
Here’s what it’s all about:
Mysterious assassins have attacked the Boston Camarilla – a secret society comprising most of the vampires in the city. Galeb Bazory, Emem Louis, and Leysha are tasked by the Prince of the city’s Kindred with learning the identity of the attackers as well as the motives underlying the large-scale attack. The orders are simple: infiltrate, investigate and get answers, using supernatural powers if necessary.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong offers a new approach to narrative RPG games:
- Each character has its own personality, with its own morality and dilemma
- A story-based game with multiple story branches where choices have consequences
- Each of the three heroes has a character sheet with characteristics, Skills and Disciplines that you can modify depending on your choices
- Original gameplay where each dialog confrontation makes you move forward in the story
- An oppressive atmosphere and a mysterious universe, faithful to the tabletop role playing game
- An original soundtrack made by famous composer, Olivier Derivière
With more than fifteen different endings for the main characters and the fate of Boston’s Camarilla, each Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong player will experience their own adventure in this unique narrative RPG.
The thing I’ve enjoyed the most so far with this game is that you are literally thrown into it without a life preserver; Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong instantly assumed you have some familiarity with the game and its core concepts of multiple families/factions. Now, I do, but I’m no expert so it took a little to remember all the various lines and lineages, but I appreciate the expectation. You can check out your menus for character backgrounds, and if you’re new to the world of the Masquerade doing so is probably not only recommended, but essential.
The voice acting is top notch in Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, though its graphics are less so on the PS5. They’re certainly not bad, but they don’t feel next level like you’d want from a new console. However, I’d suggest that you’re not coming to this game for amazing graphics, but rather an immersive storytelling experience, and that’s where the game feels like it’s delivering. Like I mentioned, I’ve only begun playing through, but the intrigue, the level of choices I’m making for my characters, and the variety of clan members one interacts with means I want to see how the whole thing plays out.