Swansong is an RPG that conveys all of its drama through dialogue – there’s no combat to speak of. Critical scenes between characters are resolved in conversational set pieces called “confrontations”. RPGs can exist without traditional battles – check out Disco Elysium, for example – but the dialogue that’s now taking center stage needs to sing, or at least resonate with a deep skill system. Unfortunately, swan song delivers neither of the two. His writing is mundane, often incoherent, and his supporting systems are underutilized, lending little flavor to distinguishing the three playable characters.
You play as three vampires – Emem, Galeb and Leysha – who are called to an emergency meeting at Boston’s vampire headquarters after a party celebrating an alliance with the Hartford Chantry (a sect of blood wizards) ends in a bloodbath, and not the good kind. The local vampire prince directs the trio to uncover what happened, eventually sending them on a series of overlapping revenge missions. Missions are tailored to each vampire’s specific abilities, and you play as each character in turn. In the first half of the game, you decide the order in which you tackle the missions, giving you the choice to pursue the most interesting storyline. But in the second half, a more linear approach takes over, and you’re propelled from one character’s mission to the next, each ending in a cliffhanger of sorts.
This structure allows the story to build across three simultaneous timelines, and at best the perspectives occasionally align to allow you to see a particular event from multiple angles. Although it has to be said that crossovers are disappointingly rare and are mostly small references during missions that hint at events between the three characters. It feels like a missed opportunity to tie the story threads together that the three characters don’t appear in the same scene beyond the game’s early stages.
Read on at GameSpot
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