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Vampire The Masquerade - Justice

Vampire The Masquerade - Justice

Written by Jason Dailey on 11/6/2023 for PSVR2   QW2  
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At first glance, Vampire The Masquerade – Justice could easily pass for a Dishonored virtual reality title, as the inspiration for the game is obvious, even going as far as including a blink ability which the Dishonored games are partially known for. However, upon further inspection, its promising stealth adventure premise proves to be merely a façade, crumbling beneath the weight of numerous frustrating bugs. Perhaps with some future updates it will be more enjoyable to play, but unfortunately, I walked away from my time with the game having experienced more frustration than fun.

Before I dive into my issues with the game, allow me to set the stage for you and share what the game gets right. Vampire The Masquerade – Justice is a standalone tale in the greater “World of Darkness” universe that follows the titular Justice, a Kindred (vampire) from New York whose sire (vampire daddy) Mahmoud has been murdered over a valuable artifact. As Justice, you travel to Venice in search of both the artifact and vengeance for Mahmoud. Upon arriving in the city, you meet a member of the Nosferatu vampire clan named Pietro, who acts as a quest giver, and whose humble abode acts as your hideout.

Justice, Pietro, and the remaining cast of main characters feature great voice performances, with all having a very vampire-esque sinister nature about them. Vampire The Masquerade – Justice is also an extremely comfortable VR experience after some initial settings adjustments. As someone sensitive to VR motion sickness, I had no issues skulking around the streets and catacombs of Venice, even despite teleporting all over the place with the blink ability.

As I ventured through the city completing missions, I tried to avoid direct conflict as much as possible, blowing my cover enough times to understand that engaging in open conflict was not the way to go. The game leans into its stealth systems, expecting you to scout and memorize enemy patterns while plotting your next move. Staying elevated was usually the best strategy, blinking between vantage points while I stalked my prey. Taking down enemies can be done several ways, but my favorite was sneaking up behind them, grabbing them, and drinking their blood. For some strange reason, the first time I got a drink of the red stuff as Justice, I opened my own mouth while leaning in for the kill. Listen, I swear I’m not a vampire, which, yes, is totally what a vampire would say.

Additional abilities are unlocked as you progress through the story, and all are satisfying to use. One pops the head off enemies, while another drags them to the underworld by placing a trap on the ground. Using an ability increases your hunger level, which can only be reduced by feeding on mortals, or rats when you’re truly desperate. Feeding is essential to keep your hunger at bay, as you won’t be able to use your abilities if it is too high. Abilities can be upgraded and unlocked by using XP gained during missions back at Pietro’s hideout, with each mission also offering additional XP if you complete bonus objectives, which were always to either remain unseen, not kill any mortals, or both.

I wish my review ended there, but unfortunately it does not. While slinking through the environment and quietly taking down enemies was fun at times, technical bugs always seemed to get in the way. There were the basic, minor visual glitches like textures popping in, which I can easily look past. But there were far more egregious annoyances that almost felt like I inadvertently broke the game. For instance, the checkpoint system could be unforgiving in a way that made the game more difficult than I’m sure was intended. At one point, after being killed by enemies, I respawned at a checkpoint directly in the line of sight of another enemy, who immediately killed me. My second respawn led to another immediate death at the hands of the same enemy. It was a “fool me once, fool me twice” moment, so I was ready to immediately blink attack the enemy on my third respawn, which increased my hunger gauge to almost full, making the remainder of the mission unnecessarily difficult, resulting in me playing the same segment at least 10 times (I lost count, honestly) before finally being able to pull it off despite the deck being stacked against me.

In another early mission, the game wanted me to use my vampire senses (pulling the Left Trigger) to highlight a power switch that I was supposed to pull to open a sewer door. Rather than highlighting said switch, the objective marker was sending me in the opposite direction across the map, and highlighting a path that had me going in literal circles for two separate play sessions. At my wits end, I had random thought to restart the mission from the beginning, after which the game finally got over itself and showed me how to progress.

I was hopeful that the day one patch would clean up a lot of my issues. In fact, I was certain it would, as reviewing games before release is oftentimes a buggy experience that gets a glow-up right before, if not right at launch. In this case, it did not. Following the day one patch, new issues surfaced, including a bug that left enemies in slow motion after I died and respawned during one instance. I died again during the encounter, and while enemy movement was no longer stuck in slow motion, their voices were, which, admittedly, made me chuckle. Far more egregious was a direct encounter with Elena, one of the main antagonists, where I was unable to engage in any dialogue with her. Instead, she rifled through her lines while I was left frozen in place, with my only option being to blink attack her to progress the mission. I don’t know if she had something important to say, or if my dialogue choices would have changed anything, but I’ll never know considering how I was forced to leave her a bloody mess.

Along those lines, there are two boss fights in the game that were extremely frustrating, including one during the final mission that made me quit the game altogether. With the numerous bugs that I encountered during my 10-ish hours with the game, it was impossible to know if I was experiencing the game as designed or fighting bugs yet again, but enough was enough. NPC dialogue made it seem that there was a stealth option to the final boss encounter, but it engaged me immediately upon entering the area, so it is hard to say. I could not find a way to damage the final boss at all, which again, could have been a bug itself, but after nearly a dozen attempts, I couldn’t be bothered to keep trying. There is another boss encounter about mid-way through the game that was not as frustrating, but still at odds with the game’s stealth identity. It wants you to be methodical, sneaky, and make use of your vampiric abilities the rest of the time, so I was beyond annoyed that it was forcing me into direct open combat – not once, but twice.

I’ve focused on the core technical issues that had the most deleterious effect on my time with Vampire The Masquerade – Justice, but there were plenty more. During the final mission, an audio bug forced me to rip my PS VR2 earbuds out of my ears. It suddenly played a noise so loud that it both scared me to death and left my ears ringing. I played to the next checkpoint with my earbuds hanging at my shoulders (but could still hear it easily), after which it finally ceased. The game also awarded two gold PlayStation Trophies that I absolutely did not earn – a bug that worked in my favor, to be sure, but that I can’t ever recall happening to me before this.

With all of that said, Vampire The Masquerade – Justice has a lot of promise, offering a Dishonored-esque experience that should be the perfect type of game to take advantage of virtual reality’s best qualities. My moments of fun were often derailed by frustrating bugs, though with some further patches these could be ironed out. Unfortunately, as a reviewer, we must evaluate the game in our hands at a particular moment in time. As it stands, I simply cannot recommend this game when my notes document includes more bullet-points regarding frustration than fun.

Vampire The Masquerade – Justice features an intriguing stealth premise that should be perfect for the immersive world of virtual reality. Unfortunately, it’s a lowkey technical mess that struggles mightily to get out of its own way, in addition to losing its identity at key moments. Fleetingly fun and frequently frustrating, this vampire adventure will suck the life out of you.

Rating: 6 Mediocre

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Jason has been writing for Gaming Nexus since 2022. Some of his favorite genres of games are strategy, management, city-builders, sports, RPGs, shooters, and simulators. His favorite game of all-time is Red Dead Redemption 2, logging nearly 1,000 hours in Rockstar's Wild West epic. Jason's first video game system was the NES, but the original PlayStation is his first true video game love affair. Once upon a time, he was the co-host of a PlayStation news podcast, as well as a basketball podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @TheDualSensePod, or check out my YouTube channel.

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