Adventure Gamers Awards
Interestingly enough, the audio department also speaks for the game's biggest success--the absolutely fantastic classical soundtrack, which frames every different area of the game with a unique theme that not only fits the tone of the area but generates a much stronger sense of enjoyment. I have played adventures in the last two years with both really bad soundtracks and almost no soundtrack to speak of, and it was immediately noticeable to me how much was added by the strength and creativity of the music here. It is on par with the Sam & Max series for a modern example of how a soundtrack should amplify an adventure game experience.
Because the game's environment is a relatively tight space (the entire castle setting where the majority of the game is spent is only 15 total screens, and the nearby town area is fairly confined as well), the progression of the story relies heavily on puzzles. The large, over-arching puzzles almost serve to break the game into chapters. There is always a specific task that is necessary to continue on in the game, which involves a list of sub-puzzles, which themselves sometimes are broken down into smaller bite-sized puzzles. There is a pretty strong balance of difficulty, and the game requires you to pay attention to the character conversations to pick up on information. There are many inventory puzzles, including some bizarre item combinations that take place--usually involving Froderick--but most make sense in retrospect, and the level of inventory is always relatively manageable so you don’t have to spend hours trying thirty items with thirty other items.
The game also introduces a very clever concept in the form of an "idea icon" in the inventory, which is the game's answer to the contention that characters shouldn't be able to simply carry around infinite amounts of inventory on their person. Instead, if you attempt to have Mona take a sword, for example, a sword-specific icon will be added to the inventory and upon using that icon when it becomes necessary, Mona will teleport back to the sword (as vampires do), grab it, and teleport back to use it where she's supposed to. Now, admittedly a cartoon adventure with a talking bat and an operatic vampiress may be an odd place to implement an additional measure of realism, but I admire the creativity of the idea. I also applaud the use of Froderick in many puzzles; his contributions as an ever-present inventory item are usually creative but sensible, and he is at least a decidedly helpful sidekick--no worries about a modern version of Cedric the owl.
The challenge of the puzzles creates some inflation of the playing time, which may be a positive because this is far from a long game (as has been the communicated expectation since the design process began). Even with some "stuck time" on some of the harder puzzles, I think this is probably no more than a 10-hour experience for an experienced adventure gamer--which isn't alarmingly short, but definitely light on story dynamics. Overall, most gamers will probably be surprised at how the game ends before it really seems to be done.
Of course, that ending does come with a nearly direct promise of a sequel, and although a slightly tidier closure to the opening installment would have been preferable, I was happy to see that promise. A Vampyre Story has many elements that lead me to believe this developer has a lot of good things in store for it--clearly there is a great degree of technical competence in the areas of the visuals, the animation, the sound design, the relatively strong balance of the puzzles, and the creativity of the characters. Now, as Mona's story hopefully continues in a couple years, it will be up to Autumn Moon to demonstrate they can build on these strengths, focus the tone of the writing more, and avoid any major pitfalls (such as the voice of Mona, which is in itself the loss of an entire half-star of my score). It is tough to fulfill six years of expectations and hope, but ultimately I liked and occasionally admired A Vampyre Story--and can't wait to see the improvements that can be made by this developer the second time around.
What our readers think of A Vampyre Story
Posted by thorn969 on Jul 6, 2017
I thought the soundtrack was nice. The graphics weren't bad for the time, although they definitely look dated today. There were plenty of puzzles. They seemed somewhat un-intuitive to me. But the vast majority of the story was told in long cutscenes as...
Posted by Houie on Dec 15, 2013
Funny, great looking, great sounding, okay story, great characters, great puzzles
~14 hours Title summarizes most of my thoughts, but this is a great re-vitalization of old school adventure games to fit the modern "pretty looking" age. Great puzzle mechanics, goofy and varied characters, okay storyline, great graphics, great sound. I...
Posted by TimovieMan on Jul 14, 2013
Superb gameplay, great artwork but some hit-and-miss humour in a simple and unfinished tale.
A Vampyre Story is a really good-looking adventure game with some amazing artwork by Bill Tiller (of Curse of Monkey Island fame). The master's hand in the artwork is clearly visible - his odd shapes and angles make for a very distinctive style - yet the...