The latest VR entry into to the World of Darkness universe lets you loose on the streets of Venice as a bloodsucking ghoul in search of your master’s killer and a stolen relic. Although it takes cues from stealth games like Hitman and Assassin’s Creed, Vampire: The Masquerade – Justice—let’s just call it Justice for short—takes a decidedly more linear approach to missions than I thought it might from our initial preview. This isn’t a terrible thing, although it manages to also feel pared down in a few other ways that’s just unfortunate. Read on to hear my full impressions.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Justice Details:

Available On: Quest, PSVR 2
Release Date: November 2nd, 2023
Price: $30
Developer: Fast Travel Games
Reviewed on: Quest 3

Gameplay

It’s your job to uncover the mystery behind your sire’s murder and reclaim a stolen relic, all of which is set in the claustrophobic alleys and sprawling sewers of Venice—yes, the world-famous sewer system of Venice. You know, the Italian island-city built on wooden stilts. With canals. And no basements. Because of the water. Ok, you’ll need to suspend disbelief only a tad more than you might normally for a fantasy world filled with vampiric factions, but not by much. After all, you can suck blood from people (and rats!), teleport around, and shoot mini-bolts formed from your own life force out of a Fisher-Price crossbow. What’s a sewer level or three? It’s all gravy.

Like pretty much all World of Darkness stuff, Justice is pretty pulpy when it comes to the narrative. If you’re not already an acolyte of the universe, the game does a pretty good job of introducing you to a few of the main vampire factions that come to a head. Still, you won’t need to absorb much of it, as it leads you by the hand through some pretty well-trodden territory which will probably feel like home for anyone who’s a fan of the gothic-punk vibe in general. That said, the suitably schlocky narrative spends a little too much time in the foreground for my tastes, especially considering it’s such a cookie-cutter tale with some pretty interchangeable villains and objectives.

For a game that mostly nails the ethereal feel of apparating onto the ledge of a building and blasting through an unsuspecting bad guy, I was really hoping it would provide me with a sort of Hitman-esque challenge of solving missions with my own creativity. Instead, it all feels a little hemmed in. Levels are typically large, although missions are entirely linear, meaning you’ll have to complete specific objectives that are force-fed to you by Pietro, your vampire pal and chief quest-giver. Don’t let that dialogue box fool you. You’re doing whatever Pietro says, even if you decide to be a little snotty about it. Anyway, that’s how it is with everyone you talk to in the game though, so it’s fine I guess?

Image captured by Road to VR

The game is pretty intent on taking you by the hand to do most everything. By default, objectives are highlighted automatically, providing you with a far-off direction to point towards as you navigate through whoever and whatever is your way. You can see the little yellow geometric icon through the walls, which is more convenient than having to constantly refer to a map, but significantly less satisfying since it comes at the cost of exploration. I know that’s a thing in traditional gaming, but it feels just a little too abstracted in VR without giving me some sort of reason. Some cool AR glasses maybe? Nope. Vampires can just see objective markers.

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Additionally, you can also activate a vampiric sense that gives you a whispy trail towards intermediary objectives, which most often times are keys to open doors. You can abuse it as much as you want, which is a clear temptation when you’re just looking to get to the ‘Mission Complete’ screen.

Image captured by Road to VR

That said, the game’s combat is a high point, offering you several ways to dispatch baddies. Kills feel iconic and fun, although the skill difficulty is almost comically low since bad guys just never look up—not even if you call attention to yourself by dropping a brick or beer bottle. You can saunter around ledges and scurry up drainpipes to your heart’s content, never being in any danger, save the two or three times in the game when there’s a sniper.

And yes, the game’s singular way of getting from ledge to ledge is teleporting, which may disappoint anyone who was looking for a parkour experience. Still, it feels right here since it’s actually a vampire superpower, although I can see why some people may miss hitting ‘A’ for jump.

Image courtesy Fast Travel Games

It’s not all rooftop-trawling at midnight though. When you need to move among them at street level, you really have one of two real options: go ham and kill before you catch two or three bullets, putting you back to your last automatic save point, or use some of your life force by turning invisible and walking right on by. Enemies seem to have radios, but it doesn’t appear they know how to use them very well, as you’ll kill a dude, his friend will come over and be like “oh no!” and then he’ll wander away eventually because you’re sitting on a ledge just above his head.

You can also always see where baddies are in level, since your vampire abilities not only provide a yellow highlighted heart icon, but also a cone that indicates which way they’re looking at any given time. Basically, the only way to be caught off guard is to close your eyes.

These aren’t the only ways to skin a cat, although you’ll probably land on your favorite method pretty quickly, as all enemies are basically the same, save three bosses you have to contend with. Different powers can be purchased in-game via XP, which includes things like that invisibility cloak ability, but also powerful and noisy attacks that boil the blood of victims until they explode. You can also set a something called a Shadow Trap that opens a pit to hell, but I found my own method pretty much the only real tactic for quick and easy kills. Using the crossbow, you can fire sleep-inducing bolts into everyone but bosses, and either knock them out to sneak by, or keep them still so you can suck their blood. It’s a pretty handy little device that feels well designed in terms of VR interactions, as it requires you to craft bolts, load individually, and cock back manually. You really don’t need anything else to beat the game, which took me about eight hours.

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In the end, Justice has some really solid footing in terms of combat and level design, but it doesn’t really know how to leverage both of these things to make enemy encounters continuously feel fresh and engaging since baddies are fairly dumb and easy to kill. Besides some environmental puzzles, there aren’t a lot of objectives out there that I really used my brain to complete, as most of it’s a breadcrumb trail to the next thing and some dudes in the way.

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Immersion

Justice feels like it wants to be an open-world game, but as we all know, that’s an order of magnitude more costly to build, which just isn’t in the cards for this decidedly more cheap and cheerful $30 adventure. While there is an ‘over world’ that you can freely prowl around, simply called ‘The Streets’, it really only serves as an intermediate area between you and the actual mission at hand. You can kill a dude to get some health before heading in, but there’s really not much going on.

Image courtesy Fast Travel Games

That honestly doesn’t bother me, since the game never promised that. What does bother me though is unreliable object interaction. Like we noted in our preview earlier this year, object interaction feels flighty and not nearly as solid as it should be. Manipulating levers and other puzzle elements is a crapshoot, and picking up a rat-sized snack is basically like doing surgery with mittens. This does a great deal to hamper immersion, as it feels like the game really isn’t at home with up close interactions, preferring instead to relegate most of its interactions to superpower moves, crossbow shooting, and force-grabbing.

While a little rough around the edges, its set pieces and level design are both very good, providing a constantly changing environment that feels like it’s modeled after the real-world Venice (save the sewers). Justice is mostly awesome-looking, and I only wish there were more of it to explore and interact with, as it does an excellent job of creating a believable underworld in a fantasy version of Venice.

Comfort

You’ll be zipping around a lot in Justice, although since it entirely relies on teleportation to move from plane to plane, it does a lot to mitigate confort issues. Playing for hours on end wasn’t an issue for me, and that’s coming from someone who never uses smooth turning as an option for the fear of the dreaded flop sweats. Both lateral and forward motion can be mitigated by variable vignettes, which is a neat little extra that will make sure most anyone can play Justice from start to finish without issue.

‘Vampire: The Masquerade – Justice’ Comfort Settings – October 31st, 2023

Turning
Artificial turning
Snap-turn
Quick-turn
Smooth-turn
Movement
Artificial movement
Teleport-move
Dash-move
Smooth-move
Blinders
Head-based
Controller-based
Swappable movement hand
Posture
Standing mode
Seated mode
Artificial crouch
Real crouch
Accessibility
Subtitles
Languages English, French, German, Spanish, Korean, Japanese
Dialogue audio
Languages English
Adjustable difficulty
Two hands required
Real crouch required
Hearing required
Adjustable player height
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
5.5
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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • implicator

    This is a nice review. It seems like we’ll never get another Vampire the Masquerade game as good as Bloodlines sadly, but at least you can kill time with this one. I hope that when the Vampire the Masquerade Redemption remake for Skyrim comes out that we’ll be able to play it in Skyrim VR.

    • J. B. Bost

      This is what I’m waiting for

  • Dragon Marble

    You get what you pay for.

    • shadow9d9

      6dofreviews has 7/10 for gameplay. I don’t get the desperation for mediocrity.

      • Dragon Marble

        Yep. UploadVR has 4/5. RoadtoVR is an outlier.

    • J. B. Bost

      5/10 isn’t as bad as you think.

      • Dragon Marble

        Would you rate RUINSMAGUS above this?

        • J. B. Bost

          I haven’t played it yet but from what I’ve seen of VR native games as a whole, very few rise about a true 7/10. The reason for this is developers are trying to make a “VR game” instead of making a game that you play on VR instead of a monitor — if that makes any sense.

          • Dragon Marble

            I play modded flat games too, but they are not the same. I don’t mind VR games being smaller. There are gripping details in a fine, native VR game that make you forget reality. Flat developers will never pay attention to them — you can’t pick up a bottle of wine and shake it anyway.

          • J. B. Bost

            Except for mods. Seriouly, try Morrowind. It’s the best VR experience I’ve ever had and it cost me absolutely nothing

          • Traph

            Morrowind has a VR port? Guess I know what I’m playing this weekend

            How is the combat? I remember it feeling pretty bad because of the dice roll system last time I revisited flatscreen and it’s probably much worse in VR. Though I’m betting there’s a mod for that.

          • J. B. Bost

            Full-on motion but your mileage is gonna vary according to the mods you select. For that reason, find a guide online/youtube/reddit

  • Deca Dent

    Guys, just wait for the Praydog mod and play
    Vampire: The Masquerade® – Bloodlines™ 2
    Next year :)

    • ViRGiN

      Just leave

      • david vincent

        Are you even too dumb to understand the importance of UEVR for the future of PCVR ?

    • david vincent

      Less than two months to go
      How many games do you have awaiting on your SSD ? :)

    • Cless

      Ou yeah! Its going to be nice to get like… +1000 PCVR games before the year ends!

  • Rudl Za Vedno

    I really wanted this game to be badass :( I liked playing 7th guest, but that’s about it VR related in last couple of months. I’ve tried tech demo Aircar yesterday and found it to be better than most VR crap we’ve been served recently. I’m having hard time to justify buying new expensive VR hardware when there is so little apps in VR gaming scene that I would like to try. Most of them are on a level of bad indi games. It’s just sad, cause I love immersion VR can provide us. VR hardware is good enough, all we need now are 15 hour Aircar like game and Alyx experiences and I believe demand for VR would skyrocket once again.

    • david vincent

      Maybe try simulations, cardio games or VR mods ?
      There is almost a new VR mod every day, enough to keep a gamer busy.
      Or wait for UEVR.

    • Arno van Wingerde

      Funny: I just think things are getting better at last, without most games looking like they are aiming to please 6 year olds… I look forward to seeing enhanced 7th guest on my Quest3. I have helt back on playing new games for the last half year, as I want to see the enhanced graphics.

      • J. B. Bost

        If you care about graphics, you should only be using your Quest in link mode

    • Totius

      I completely agree. The good news is that the Quest 3 is exceptionally good. Now, we just need a standout app or game. The challenge, as we’ve discussed on this site for years, is that in order to justify the budget for a AAA Quest game, there must be an audience sizable enough to buy the game and offset the investment. This situation is reminiscent of a cat chasing its tail. The only plausible solution would be for someone like Zuck to invest an astronomical amount, say $100M+ dollars, to develop a top-tier game over 5 to 10 years—something on par with GTA—without concern for immediate financial return. The motivation for such an investment would be to solidify his dominant position in the Metaverse for the future. Regrettably, I don’t foresee this happening, even though I was genuinely excited about Zuck acquiring Oculus in hopes of seeing him fund such a project.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        Unfortunately, USD 100mn isn’t anywhere enough for something en par with GTA V. Released 2013, it took USD 140mn to develop plus USD 125mn, mostly for ads, to release. It sold 11mn copies for USD 800mn in 24h, making back production 3x on launch day. Since then it reached 170mn+ copies and USD 6bn+ revenue, much of that from GTA Online. Inflation turns USD 140mn from 2013 into USD 185mn development/USD 350mn total costs in 2023. Despite insane sales and breaking even within hours, Rockstar may only be able to invest even more for GTA VI thanks to their GTA Online money press. USD 100mn+ budgets are now common, with matching revenue expectations. Star Citizen cost USD 500mn+.

        Very optimistically estimating 15m active Quest/PCVR/PSVR users, each needs 11 copies/USD 400 for GTA V numbers. Currently VR AAA means either platform owners paying for production, or studios integrating (cheaper) VR modes into high budget AAA games. With HL:A and AW2 being 1st party exceptions, while other subsidized titles like RE4 Quest, AC Nexus or HCotM reduce costs by limiting scope, “full” AAA VR releases will be hybrids like RE8 or GT7. With ETFR and other VR optimizations significantly lowering VR integration costs, Sony made hybrid development even feasible for AAA, so hopefully some studios now started adding VR to their 2024/2025/2026 releases.

        • Totius

          Yes, I was referring to $100M+ as an order of magnitude. My somewhat realistic dream is that Zuckerberg decides to invest those $100M to create the best possible VR port for the upcoming GTA VI. This amount of funding would likely suffice, given that the primary expense would stem from the base game. It would serve as the ultimate showcase for VR, demonstrating the intended gameplay experience. The online component of GTA would also significantly benefit from this.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            He won’t. With RE4 Meta hoped for a HL:A effect, but while HL:A doubled VR usage on Steam, RE4 hardly left a mark, despite excellent reviews. It’s not simply “big AAA -> lots of new users”, making the costs hard to justify.

            And even USD 100mn can’t port current gen AAA to mobile VR with GPU ~10yrs behind. iPhone 15 Pro with performance similar to Quest 3 will get the full AC Mirage, probably rendered in 30FPS 720P (or less) upscaled. Fine on a 6″ phone, but Quest 3 has 5x pixels, 3x refresh, 2x displays. We’re still waiting for a 2004 GTA San Andreas port. AW2 will be top of the line for some time. With Quest 2/3 at ~17%/42% of PCVR entry level GTX 1060, the very impressive result is visibly simplified compared to Rift. And AW2 was expensive, despite being derived from an Oculus VR game, still no model for sustainable AAA.

            VR requiring more resources, with less paying users, causing less development, not attracting enough new users, is a vicious circle that a few subsidized flagship titles won’t break. It needs either much higher user numbers or much lower development costs. The first proved difficult. The second is the reason for short indie titles, and why hybrid games may be the most realistic way for AAA, not just on PSVR2. With some luck, GTA VI will launch as hybrid.

          • Totius

            I hadn’t considered the possibility of these hypothetical ports being developed for standalone VR rather than PC VR. There’s also the possibility of cloud-based gameplay. However, now that you mention it, with considerable effort and an immense investment—possibly in the realm of $100 million—GTA VI could potentially be optimized and scaled down to be playable on the Quest 3. Despite that, I still maintain that a true AAA title—unlike AW2, which, while impressive, falls significantly short of AAA benchmarks set by games like GTA—could significantly shake up the market.

    • J. B. Bost

      I’m playing a bunch of VR mods and having the time of my life for absolutely free. Morrowind looks amazing!

    • Gary Goh

      Aircar was amazing! So is the free Propagation VR (on Steam) I enjoy The Climb 2 and Brink Traveler as well.

  • J. B. Bost

    I was getting the feeling it was very linear and I kept noticing Youtubers not mentioning that in their overly positive previews

    • Gonzax

      I don’t mind a linear game at all, I’ll take that over doing errands for everyone all the time.

      • J. B. Bost

        Some open world games, very much, lol. But when you put the Vampire: the Masquerade name on a game, you run the unfortunate position of being compared to Bloodlines, which I would rather be playing, even in just vorpx

        • Gonzax

          I bought Justice yesterday but haven’t had the chance to play yet. I hope it will be good. As for Bloodlines maybe a VR mod someday, that would be nice.

          • J. B. Bost

            Word on the wire is that it’ll be a remake in Skyrim

          • J. B. Bost

            Have fun vamping around Italy, tho!

  • Ad

    So the same issues again and again in this industry. Was this project given external funding? I feel like that often leads to them budgeting around few if any sales and just being able to walk away after release.