Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New York - Gameplay Trailer
Who it Caters to
Coteries of New York is a Visual Novel based on Vampire: The Masquerade, one of the most famous and interesting pen-and-paper role-playing games. In fact, it refers to several elements from New York by Night, one of the novels based on the Vampire: The Masquerade mythos. In this universe, vampires are real and have lived among us since time immemorial; however, they need a set of rules to avoid being discovered and slain, and so The Masquerade was born.
If you like vampires, you definitely need to know about Vampire: The Masquerade, a franchise that captivates you thanks to the credibility of its stories. Because yes, we all know this is just a game and vampires don't exist... but what if that's what they want us to believe and we're being tricked by the Masquerade?
What to Expect
Although a lot of games about vampires are fast-paced adventures or even shooters, and even if tabletop RPG games like Dungeons & Dragons involve a lot of action, Vampire: The Masquerade is all about the narrative. Of course, you can be more aggressive and play your character as you want, but in the end, any vampire will live longer if it remains in the shadows. That's probably why the visual novel genre fits the Vampire: The Masquerade franchise so well, and the reason why almost every fan of the saga wondered why there was no visual novel based on it.
In this game, you play as a newly-created vampire who knows nothing about this secret society or the imposing rules to which they are subject. After being saved from Final Death and adopted by Sophie Langley of the Tremere clan, you're nothing but a slave trying to find your own place in the night... but will you be able to survive it?
If there's one thing we love about this game, that has to be the visuals. Beautifully illustrated by Rafał Gosieniecki and Filip Odzierejko, Coteries of New York is a game that makes it extremely easy to immerse yourself in the distressing environments of this version of New York and get carried away by the story and its characters. Although it's not hyperrealistic, it is realistic enough to help you take the characters seriously, something that differs a lot from other generic anime-style novels.
The menus are simple enough—just like the gameplay—and you can adjust the text options for better reading. Also, we recommend activating the background animations, which always deserve a good pause to fully appreciate them.
Along with the visuals, the other highlight of Coteries of New York is the soundtrack. For obvious reasons, the music in a visual novel has to be calm enough not to distract the reading, but powerful in terms of setting the mood. In this case, every piece of music deserves your attention as they perfectly fit the general tone of the game. Unfortunately, this game does not include voice acting, something that would have earned even more points to this spectacular sound section.
You start the game as either a Ventrue female or a Brujah/Toreador male, and even though you can choose your name, those 3 are the only playable classes. For those who have played any V:TM game before, gender-locking and the absence of customization no doubt will feel like the biggest problem, especially once you discover how structured Coteries of New York is for a series known for giving absolute freedom to its players. Another negative aspect for those who are not new to V:TM is that the whole narrative of Coteries of New York revolves around being a fledgling that knows nothing about the Masquerade, ultimately being used as a pawn while the big fishes plot everything from the shadows; a cheap resource for a V:TM campaign that has been done to death.
Just like with every visual novel, the gameplay is pretty simple: the story is told through small bits of text that appear in the lower-left corner, sometimes from the narrator's point of view—while it describes your situation—and sometimes thanks to interacting with other characters. When the time is right, some dialog options appear in the lower-right corner, and there you can choose how your character behaves in certain situations. In this game, 2 forces are always influencing your next move: one is the Masquerade, and the other is politics.
Since you're a vampire, you need to drink blood... but you also need to respect the Masquerade if you don't want any trouble. If you drink too much and go on a killing spree, you lose humanity and sooner than later you'll look like a monster, unable to hide your true self and walk the streets as a human would. If you don't drink blood and the Beast inside of you awakens, you can be sure the Masquerade will be broken and everyone around will know about your vampiric nature. From a gameplay perspective, respecting the Masquerade is what ultimately defines what dialogue options are better than the others, and when ignoring your appetite looks like a better option than jumping over that poor guy walking alone at night, piercing his neck with your fangs.
As soon as your new sire Sophie Langley gives you a little freedom, she'll encourage you to form your very own coterie, recruiting some other vampires to your cause... if you know how to play your cards. In our first run, we went for Hope the Malkavian (a crazy social media addict) and D'Angelo the Nosferatu (a freelance detective), but your other options are Agathon the Tremere and Tamika the Gangrel. Gaining their trust is a big part of Coteries of New York's story, but unfortunately, you never really get to understand what it really means to be in a coterie because of how short the game is, and how abrupt the ending feels.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
With only around 10 hours of gameplay, and with no significant changes to the ending no matter what route you follow, Coteries of New York feels like a grenade that explodes too soon. One moment you feel captivated by these characters and their backgrounds, and a few minutes later you're staring at the screen while the credits are rolling, and the ending itself feels nowhere near satisfying. However, the Dictionary feature and the fascinating lore behind Vampire: The Masquerade make of Coteries of New York a more than decent entry point to the franchise, leading to many of you reading the novels or recruiting a group of friends for a good session of tabletop role-playing. In fact, It's always a good time to go back to playing Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (available on Steam), especially now that Bloodlines 2 is just around the corner!
It’s a more than decent entry point for those new to Vampire: The Masquerade and the World of Darkness’ lore.
The art is gorgeous, and the soundtrack remains true to the sounds we have fallen in love with in previous games.
Although you feel like your decisions really matter... they don't.
For those who already experienced a Vampire: The Masquerade campaign before, the whole fledgling plot may come as dull.
More endings and playable clans would’ve been a nice touch.
Honey's Final Verdict:
To be honest, we love Vampire: The Masquerade, and maybe that’s why we’re so torn about Coteries of New York. One the one hand, a lot of elements here feel exactly as they should, and we’re sure a lot of new players will fall in love with the lore behind this saga. On the other hand, the unsatisfying ending and the lack of freedom definitely spoil the experience to those who already know how it feels to participate in a good Vampire: The Masquerade campaign.
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...