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SummaryAn OK visual novel with a weak ending
The GoodI have to be honest: I don't like vampires in media. I think the only vampire fiction I ever enjoyed was Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Coteries of New York is set in the same world, but I still expected a disaster after buying it in a Humble Choice bundle.
I am glad to be wrong. While the game is certainly no brilliant work of fiction, the setting and decent writing makes it a good product. In the end, this is a collection of several small stories held together by a framing plot. I especially liked how it does not fall in the usual visual novel trap: both the episodes and the whole game are short and to the point. The characters work well enough, but most of them are superficially written.
The game is built around player choice, meaning you can choose which episode to play next. You can't experience everything in one playthrough which means you are not forced to continue stories you don't care about. You also need to feed regularly or otherwise the beast will take control over you. Admittedly I'm not sure if you can actually fail the game, but the system gave me a sense of urgency I appreciated nevertheless.
The BadUnfortunately the player choice leads to some inconsistencies in writing. For example, during my first episode I investigated a murder and had the possibility to name a certain vampire faction as culprit. This is well and good, but at this time my character should have absolutely no knowledge about this faction! Another example: there are various dialogue boxes where the protagonist is referred to as "they" because the writers did not want to differentiate between male and female player characters. This wouldn't be a problem if it was used with consistency, but the writing jumps between "they" and specified gender pronouns.
Another problem is the game's conclusion: it comes out of nowhere and you are railroaded towards a cliffhanger ending. Your choices during the game don't matter at all, in fact you could cut out 90% of the content without the need to change the ending at all. I don't really object to the inevitability of the ending because it fits the setting. But if a game is built around player choices, it must at least give the illusion that they matter.