Draw Distance crafted a masterpiece with Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York. I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of the game, and I have enjoyed it immensely. The story in the game managed to hook me right from the start, thanks to its intriguing plot and gripping characters. It also helps how the hand-drawn and painted aesthetic fit together beautifully. However, the title is a visual novel, and therefore there are some differences to take note of between Coteries of New York, and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (the 2004 Role-playing Game (RPG)).
What you should know about Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York
It is a visual novel with tabletop elements
The very first thing all players should know about Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York is how it is nothing like Bloodlines. Coteries of New York is actually classified as a visual novel, with added elements based on the original tabletop game.
As a visual novel, players should throw the expectation of walking around and exploring a fully realised 3D world out of the window. Visual novels are hand-drawn and slow takes on the worlds they are based on. Coteries of New York also includes a few elements from the tabletop game, so expect a lot of micromanaging hunger and the like.
You can choose to play one of three characters
As the game begins, you need to choose a character and vampiric class to play with. The three options are: Ventrue, Bruja, and Toreador. They manage to successfully tease the rest of the classes and/or sub races available from Bloodlines. While it may seem like an aesthetic change only, the chosen character will also influence the kinds of disciplines you will have access to later on, and open up different parts of conversations and the world.
While the majority of the game follows the same structure and storyboarding, you will find that there is so much content and context to go through, that you will be compelled to replay the game with each character. This opens up unique pathways and gives you extra context surrounding key topics and events. Replayability is a big aspect of Coteries of New York.
It takes place in New York
As the name suggests, Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York takes places in New York City. It is here where the player must try to figure out what their sire’s ultimate goal is, why they vanished, and to determine your purpose.
As a brand-new vampire, you are quickly thrust into a world you know nothing about. New York helps to convey half a sense of familiarity in this weirdly modern setting, while the unique qualities of New York also shine through into the game. Much in the same way that Bloodlines took place in Los Angeles, and Bloodlines 2 will take place in Seattle.
You will do a lot of reading
Courtesy of the very nature of the game, you can expect a lot of reading! The game relies heavily on narrative storytelling to carry plot points and key events, therefore things need to be explained thoughtfully, and in detail. Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York features a heck of a lot of dialogue, countless descriptions, and choices aplenty.
Usually games like Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines allow players to make choices in the way they play. For example, you could sneak through a bunch of guards without killing them, or alternatively just maul them all down with your vampiric abilities. Whatever act you choose shows what kind of a player you are. In Coteries of New York, choices are literally listed in black and white (more like crimson and white, but who is keeping score?), for you to choose from, and read about the consequences.
You cannot do all sidequests
Sidequests are the bread and butter of any and all role-playing games. In Bloodlines, the player was given seemingly countless sidequests by all kinds of characters. Sometimes these quests resulted in something good, and sometimes they helped explain more about the World of Darkness. All times, however, players could do these quests and not hinder the plot of the main story.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York is wholly different in this regard. There is a strict time system where the player can either do one main campaign-related mission in a night, or one or two side quests. Depending on their brevity, and you can only do so many before the game progresses onto the next main story beat. Choose carefully, Childe!
Whether you are interested in Coteries of New York because you cannot wait for Bloodlines 2, or just a huge fan of the franchise, chances are that this game might tickle your fancy. Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York embraces the fact that it is wildly different than most video game adaptations of the World of Darkness, and it does so with aplomb.