Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines Analysis
Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines analysis that focuses on how the horror in the game is functions. This article may contain spoilers for those who have not played and completed the game, so you have been warned. The game is also quite a disturbing game so some of the themes discuss here may be as well.
The main theme of Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines is actually crime. All the horror is in some way informed by crime, which fits in with the central vampiric origin story. Caine kills Abel and is cursed by god to become the first vampire. This central theme of crime runs throughout the entire game, with all the vampires in some way being criminal or at the very least attached to the criminal underworld. This marks a return to the original conception of vampires in Bram Stroker’s Dracula where Dracula is basically a crime lord.
Every element of horror in the games has crime as a central feature. The Ocean House haunted hotel scene has a murderous father figure much akin to Jack in The Shining. The ghosts of the past basically reveal the way the crime unfolded through hauntings and clues such as newspaper clippings. In this way the horror was derived from our fear of murder.
The scenes with disease in the Downtown area reflect a fear of prostitution and the sex industry, which is quite illegal in the United States. The disease itself being spread via such industries. The fleshcrafter continues with this theme by adding nefarious videos and includes with it the fear of home invasion.
The great advantage of using crime as the core of your horror is that it is real. As crime exists, we have good reason to be scared of it and even have slight experience of it.
No Safe Places
One of the really clever devises Bloodlines uses is that no place is really safe. Even places that seem really safe, such as a LAN Gaming Club actually turn out to be dangerous when more information is revealed. This is taken even further if you play a Malkavian character as your characters insanity can create problems out of something as simple as a stop sign. In this way the player is kept constantly on edge. No place can be trusted so all might be dangerous. While there are breaks in the horror, those breaks are never completely easy. Keeping people on edge and in an anxious condition seems to be a central staple of horror.
Perhaps the most horrific element of the game is the way it plays with desensitisation. As you play the game and become increasingly ruthless, you tacitly begin to accept the rules and social structures of vampiric society. Further, you begin to accept a degree of the elitism by holding the belief that you can interfere in Heather’s life to save her and in a way to enslave her. In this way you are basically becoming her dealer and ultimately her life becomes ruined before she finally loses it. A very interesting and disturbing way of exploring morality and the way in which peer pressure can cause us to become evil.