Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2, sequel to the cult classic 2004 vampire role-playing game, has resurfaced in a new version made by a new studio after its development imploded in 2021.
Now due for release in fall 2024, Bloodlines 2 has been taken over by The Chinese Room, a U.K. studio best known for its atmospheric and mysterious walking simulators, Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Publisher Paradox Interactive promised to reveal more about the game in January.
The setting for the game remains broadly the same as for its previous incarnation, but The Chinese Room has made some changes. Bloodlines 2 still takes place in a version of modern-day Seattle in the depths of winter. The city is under siege on three fronts, and there’s a power vacuum in the vampire court, which has split into factions. (The Vampire: The Masquerade series takes place in the World of Darkness role-playing setting, a modern-Gothic take on the real world where vampires, werewolves and other mythical creatures roam.)
In an interview with PC Gamer, creative director Alex Skidmore underlined that Bloodlines 2 is using “a new code base with different gameplay mechanics and RPG systems” to the previous version, which was being made by Seattle developer Hardsuit Labs. The protagonist has also changed from a young vampire, as in the original game, to a powerful Elder, “to create something different from Bloodlines to give a different experience.” This Elder has been awoken from a long slumber, so the world will still be new to them. “You have enough that you can fill in the character a bit as you go and roleplay, but they’re also an established thing that you understand as aspirational,” Skidmore explained.
It seems as though little remains of the Hardsuit Labs version beyond some of the game’s art assets. Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 was originally announced by Paradox in 2019 for a 2020 release. After multiple delays and the firing of its creative leads, Paradox parted ways with Hardsuit in 2021 and delayed the game indefinitely while it looked for a new developer. Apparently, The Chinese Room came aboard not long after that.
The Brighton, U.K.-based developer has taken a long road to get to this point, too. After finding a passionate audience for its eerie narrative games Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, as well as horror spinoff Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, the studio laid off all its staff and closed its offices in 2017 due to a gap in funding. It was then acquired by by U.K. studio group Sumo Digital and began to rebuild, releasing platformer Little Oprheus in 2020 and recently announcing first-person narrative horror Still Wakes the Deep, which is also set for a 2024 release.
Players are “gonna get the immersive, wonderful worlds they can lose themselves in, but they’re going find a lot more that we haven’t done before, but is still true to us and true to our DNA,” Skidmore said in a developer announcement video that you can watch below.
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