This weeks #TuneTuesday comes from a videogame that I don’t think gets enough love. The game is Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption, and the cue is ‘Modern Day Christof’s Theme’ and it is either composed by Kevin Manthei, Chris Collins, Greg Forsberg or Rob Ross (I have found various sources disagreeing with each other constantly, including the game’s credits).
Most people who have taken an interest in reading this blog post are likely to be a little confused. The only Vampire: The Masquerade game you are probably aware of is Bloodlines, and its soon-to-be-released sequel. That cult classic was not the first attempt someone made at turning the popular tabletop roleplaying game into a videogame. That credit goes to Redemption, which is actually the first videogame adapted from a game found within the World of Darkness, the universe that Vampire: The Masquerade exists, along with Werewolf: The Apocolypse and Wraith: The Oblivion.
But I digress. In this game, you play as the noble French crusader Christof Romuald, a once-proud, religious church knight who is embraced by a vampire of clan (essentially the breed) Brujah, pulled into the politics and squabbling of the Kindred, the in-game word for vampires (they also use Cainite, FYI). Whilst coming to terms with his new condition, questioning his understanding on life and faith allying himself with other Cainites, his anchor to humanity the nun Anezka, a human with a pure soul who loves him even after his transformation, is kidnapped by members of clan Tzimisce (pronounced Zi-me-zee) for plot-related reasons. Christof then makes it his goal in unlife to save her and thrawt the plans of the Tzimisce.
Whilst not being a perfect game by any means, one of the things that makes this game very interesting is no only its faithfulness to the lore of VtM (for the most part), but its change in settings. The game occurs in two time periods: 12th century Prague and Vienna, and late-20th century London and New York City, each one having fantastic attention to detail in the voice acting and change in music (for a game released in 2000 on PC may I add). The Dark Ages setting has great orchestral work and great period music in the almost pointless explorable pubs, whilst the Modern Nights setting has more electonic sounds and gritty phat beats (there is even a rap when you explore certain parts of New York).
The exception to this is with the second rendition of Christof’s theme, which returns to the orchestral style in my favourite key, B minor, with a strong dramatic melody with the French Horn, accented with toms and tubular bells and strings, before being replaced by a slightly more simplistic chromatic distorted electric guitar idea, acting as a clever transition between the Dark Ages sound, to the grunge sound of 2000, which has since become the Vampire: The Masquerade sound.
Whilst I say this is the second rendition (as the title would imply), that cue plays during the game’s opening cinematic and doesn’t really feel like a character theme to me. This weeks cue does, reflecting the strong willpower of Christof to carry on, and the saddness of his condition. He did not ask to be embraced, he did not want to be one of the damned, a scion of the night. He has these powers, this undeniable thirst, but not wanting to become a monster, he does not want to succumb to the beast and lose control. He wants to do what’s right, which is why on so many occasions Christof tries to detach himself totally from Anezka, so he or his vampire brethren do not harm her.
What I have just described is the ethos of Vampire: The Masquerade, which is why I admire it, and this game, as much as I do, for this is an element that Bloodlines doesn’t deliver as strong in my mind, simply because with that game, you create your own character, which becomes an extension of you. With Redemption, you are ‘forced’ to see the world through Christof’s eyes, to feel with his heart, and this theme captures that character perfectly, even if all the samples in that sound terrible because this is 2000, only 20yrs after MIDI was invented.