Vampire: The Masquerade – Justice - Review

Published on February 20, 2023

Embark on the quest to unravel the enigma surrounding your sire's demise and reclaim a treasured relic, all amidst the labyrinthine alleyways and vast underground network of Venice - yes, the iconic sewer system of Venice. Picture it: the Italian city built atop wooden pilings, crisscrossed with canals, devoid of basements due to its aquatic foundations. Prepare to suspend your disbelief just a tad further than usual for a fantastical realm brimming with vampiric factions, albeit not excessively. For in this world, you possess the ability to draw sustenance from humans (and even rats!), teleport at will, and unleash mini-bolts of energy from a pint-sized crossbow made by Fisher-Price. What's a few sewer levels amidst such supernatural feats? It's all part of the adventure.

Much like other creations within the World of Darkness, Justice leans towards a pulpy narrative style. Should you be unfamiliar with this universe, fear not, for the game adeptly introduces you to key vampire factions as their conflicting interests collide. Yet fear not, for delving too deeply into this lore is unnecessary, as the game gently guides you through terrain that may feel familiar to enthusiasts of the gothic-punk aesthetic. However, the narrative, while suitably campy, perhaps lingers a touch too long in the foreground, given its somewhat formulaic plotline featuring interchangeable antagonists and objectives.

Hoping for a challenge akin to Hitman in terms of problem-solving creativity, I found Justice to be somewhat confining in this regard. While the game boasts expansive levels, the missions themselves adhere strictly to linear paths, dictated by none other than Pietro, your vampire companion and primary dispenser of quests. Despite any pretense of autonomy, you're essentially following Pietro's directives, even if you opt for a snarky response. Such is the case with every character interaction, leading to a sense of prescribed progression.

The game holds your hand throughout most tasks, with objectives automatically highlighted for convenience. While this minimizes reliance on maps, it comes at the cost of exploration, a compromise that feels somewhat abstract in the context of virtual reality. Additionally, a vampiric sense aids in navigating towards intermediary objectives, often keys to unlocking doors, providing a clear path forward yet stifling potential avenues for discovery.

Combat within the game shines brightly, offering myriad options for dispatching adversaries. While dispatching foes proves satisfying, the relative ease of combat belies any true challenge, as enemies seldom raise suspicion even when confronted with blatant distractions. Whether scaling rooftops or navigating street-level encounters, your vampire abilities offer a distinct advantage, providing not only the location of enemies but also their line of sight, minimizing the element of surprise.

While multiple strategies exist for overcoming challenges, players may quickly settle into preferred methods, as enemies lack significant variation save for a handful of boss encounters. In-game experience points allow for the acquisition of diverse abilities, from invisibility cloaks to explosive attacks, yet I found a singular approach to be most effective throughout the game. Utilizing the crossbow, players can incapacitate adversaries with sleep-inducing bolts or draw upon their life force, streamlining gameplay mechanics in a manner befitting virtual reality interaction.

In summary, while Justice excels in combat mechanics and level design, it struggles to maintain sustained engagement due to predictable enemy encounters. Despite occasional environmental puzzles, the gameplay experience often feels like a guided tour, leading players along a predetermined path with little room for strategic decision-making.