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 game is given its own identity with the style, so it’s not a rehash of his earlier work. The game is a pleasure to watch.
It also features all the best gameplay elements for point-and-click adventures: there’s the use of the verb coin (which is my preferred choice of interaction), there’s all kinds of fast-travel possibilities (including shortcuts to others parts of the map) and dialogue-skipping options, and we get a hotspot revealer to help us with the pixel hunting. All of these make sure that we get the max out of the point-and-click style of the game. The only minor quibbles I might have are the lack of subtitles during cutscenes, and that the verb coin is a bit oversized, but those are nothing jarring at all.
The story in this game is a fairly simple one (escape the castle, find transport to Paris), and while there’s a decent amount of padding in it (main character Mona gets a well-fleshed out backstory and her ‘coming to terms with being a vampire’ is played for laughs), ultimately the game ends on an a cliffhanger with no real sense of resolution. Even if you knew that in advance, it still hurts the game since you’ve basically only played the first part of a much longer story.
The game itself is spiked with lots of humour, most often in the form of comments coming from your sidekick, the bat Froderick. His comments are rather hit-and-miss, not all of them are actually funny, but there are some great lines in there and there are enough pop culture references to keep you entertained throughout the game.
Once your character escapes the castle (which is the first half of this game), the game world opens up quite a bit with more locations to visit and more people to talk to. The town you visit somehow made me think of Rubacava from Grim Fandango (maybe it’s the presence of a stadium that did it?). Since Year Two of Grim Fandango is the epitome of adventure gaming for me, this is a VERY good thing. Thus the second half of A Vampyre Story is my favourite part of the game. It’s also the part that’s the heaviest on puzzles, which is great as well.
Most of the puzzles in this game are well thought out and logical. There are only a few that needed cartoon logic, but those still fit the comedic aspect of the game. They even tried to give it a more realistic angle by avoiding the infinitely large inventory storage. Large items are merely “remembered”, not taken with you. You only go and fetch them when you actually need them. This may not have been the perfect game for this “new” take on an inventory, but it was a nice addition nonetheless.
Lastly, the game features some more-than-decent voice acting that complements the characters as well as the humour. Mona’s voice is rather high-pitched so some people may find her grating, but it’s really not bad at all. Plus it gives her a certain cuteness to offset the vampirism…
Overall this is a very decent game, with great artwork and great gameplay. It’s a really enjoyable adventure game. Not all the humour works as well as it should, and (like for instance Toonstruck before it) you’re left hanging with only half a game, which keeps A Vampyre Story from becoming an adventure classic. Now we can only hope that Bill Tiller finds the funding he needs to complete the tale, because I’d happily revisit Draxylvania…
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Time Played: 10-20 hours
Difficulty: Just Right