November 19, 2020

Vampire: The Masquerade & What We Do In the Shadows

Vampire: The Masquerade

Vampire: The Masquerade offers (at least for me anyway) yet another chance to write about vampires. I can’t ever get enough of them, to be honest, and I relish the fact that I get to watch projects about them. And of course, write about them afterwards. Cool right? I thought so too. But this is a rather different from my usual repertoire. I can’t say that I’ve encountered plenty of visual novels before, so i’m always excited when I do come across one.

From Vampire: The Masquerade To What We Do In the Shadows

But Vampire: The Masquerade also brought me to a great yet hilarious TV series called What We Do In the Shadows. You’ve probably heard of it. The amazing TV adaptation of the cult 2014 movie of the same name. Well, since I did a review on the latest BBC take on Dracula (check out that post here), I thought I extend the vampire lore to another series. And boy oh boy. What We Do In the Shadows did not disappoint. But more on that later in this post. I believe the game itself is calling my attention first. So without further ado…

What’s Vampire: The Masquerade All About You Might Ask?

Well, just to be clear, I’m going to focus on Vampire: The Masquerade – Shadows of New York here in this post, but we do have plenty of other games from the Vampire: The Masquerade series as well.

They’re all on sale currently at IndieGala, but that sale isn’t going to last forever. So, hurry up and get your vampire fix now. It’s also a game developed by Draw Distance and published by Plug In Digital. But at the same time Shadows of New York is a visual novel set in the rich universe of Vampire: The Masquerade. It acts as a stand-alone expansion and a companion piece to the previous title, Coteries of New York.

Vampire: The Masquerade
Vampire: The Masquerade is a good choice

But the game also follows Julia. A journalist turned low rank vampire. When the Anarch Baron Callihan is found dead under mysterious circumstances, Julia is tapped as the investigator of the case by the Camarilla Primogen Council as a gesture of good faith. And that investigation alone will put her deeper into the political mess of the many vampire clans. Not to mention her future within New York’s vampiric society will depend on whether she’s able to solve the crime. It’s not an easy task, but very few things are in this world.

Vampire: The Masquerade And What We Do In The Shadows

The game itself is mostly set in March 2020, but the similarities of the modern setting (along with vampire characters) end there.

As one Steam comment said: Vampire: The Masquerade – Shadows of New York weaves a familiar tale. Yet it is not a tale familiar out of triteness, but rather in its bleak and despairing contemporaneity. Shadows of New York artfully depicts our 2020 hell-scape, holds it up as a mirror and doesn’t so much ask whether or not we’re ♥♥♥♥♥♥ as yell it in our faces.

Dokt0r Gunn (another Steam gamer) said this about the game: The soundtrack is beautiful, that’s the first thing I want to say. I love a lot of things about this game. The art is of course gorgeous, but you will know this already. The writing – when it’s on point it is incredible. And I mean incredible. There are points in this game where the story devoured me whole. Which is really what you want in a game like this. I didn’t even always like Julia, but even when I didn’t like her, I was compelled to see what would happen to her next. I finished this game very quickly by my standards because it was a story I just couldn’t leave unfinished.

Some of the characters in Vampire: The Masquerade

Low Expectations For What We Do In The Shadows (the TV show)

First and foremost, let me be clear upfront. I have low expectations about pretty much everything. Low expectations are a necessity these days, and they bring little to none disappointment. Pro tip from me to you. You’re welcome. However, I wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of having a TV show adaptation from what appears to be one of the best horror comedies of all time.

Mostly because the data shows that it’s close to impossible to do a decent transition, let alone surpass the quality of the original work. And secondly, although good TV shows based on movies do exist, they’re not that many to number, to be honest. Indeed, I can exclude Cobra Kai and Fargo as some recent positive examples, but I can’t think of that many to add to this list. I’m sure you’ll be able to help me out with this. Bates Motel maybe? Ash VS Evil Dead? What else? Let me know in the comment section please.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I found out that What We Do In the Shadows is actually a good TV show. No, scratch that. It’s great. And yes, I’ll be focusing on the first season of To What We Do In the Shadows here in this post. Which means I’ll leave the second season for a separate occasion. Kinda like what I did with my Prison Break posts. Let’s begin.

Vampire: The Masquerade
Hi Guillermo

Starting Over?

Why does it work? What We Do In the Shadows I mean. Well, because although there are some crucial changes (the setting, the characters, and the format), the backbone is pretty much the same. And of course, I’m referring to the creative input of Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement. You can just assume that they’re starting over with the TV show, and it’s partially true. The title remains the same, but so does the creative duo behind it. Taika/Jermaine. Yes, they’re not appearing in the same roles that they had in the movie, but their creative input stays in the TV show. It’s now focused on different aspects. Primarily on writing and directing. And they’re still sharp and hilarious as ever. They’re creators, writers and directors of the 10 episodes, and their easily recognizable humor is still one of the strongest suits here. Admit it. It’s pretty spectacular.

So with a new cast, new setting (NY) and pretty much new adventures, the group of vampires will face new challenges as well.

Vampire: The Masquerade
The cast of Vampire: The Masquerade

Which Character Is Your Favorite?

Don’t be shy. We all have a favorite. Personally, I’m torn between Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) and Laszlo Cravensworth (Matt Berry). The first one because I’ve had my fair share of dealing with emotional vampires (especially in professional settings of the office workplace), and the second one… Well, it’s one of the most outrageous characters ever written and it’s played by Matt Barry (hi IT Crowd fans). I mean It’s a win-win in my book.

Add to this, the fine comedic performances for the cast members, their incredible chemistry and you can’t help but binge it in one sitting. I did just that and I regret nothing.

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Expanding The Movie In The Best Way Possible

Which in essence it’s one of the most fitting descriptions for the TV show. Boiling it down to the most basic terms, it’s a fantastic satire of the vampire lore. But at the same time, it’s also a satire of our existence. Yes, our humanly existence. Seen through the eyes of centuries-old vampires and their timid, shy familiar. Poor Guillermo. The „fish out of water“ concept works here effortlessly because it’s done through smart humor, brilliant satire and accurate observation.

And some kick ass vampire characters to be honest. I mean they nailed the stereotypes and struggles of these vampires to adapt to our mundane, banal and rather boring life. And by tying these things together, they actually described us perfectly. Just think about it. By placing them in modern times we witness their cultural shifts and struggles, but at the same time we witness our own flaws as modem individuals.

Vampire: The Masquerade
Laszlo, Nadja, Nandor

The Humor Is Where They Get You

It truly is. And you may come for the vampire lore (and let’s face it Taika Waititi), but you’ll stay for the humor. It’s smart and witty and overall incredible. Although, far from perfect (I have issues with some of the character development), there’s no denying that you’ll be laughing your butt off in every single episode. My favorite episode is actually the second one (“City Council”) where they’ll resort to preying on the virgins within the nerd/geek/LARPer community. But all in all, having a bunch of clueless, horny characters (vampire characters) in one place is always a recipe for good humor. And Taika and Jermaine know that all too well.

We Do In the Shadows VS Vampire: The Masquerade

Which one do you enjoy more? Tell us about your impressions of both the game series and TV series. Which one is your favorite? Let us know. We’d love to know all about it.

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