A Vampyre Story
but no fangs," says a pale-faced Lewis Denby...
Vampyre Story teeters on the edge of brilliance, spends
too much time faffing about with itself, then falls embarrassingly
to its bloody death.
And that's such a shame. It's depressingly unusual
to have any reason to get excited about a new adventure
game, but if there ever was one, this was it. With a
small, focused team of designers, led by former Lucas Arts
main player Bill Tiller, A Vampyre Story promised a
lovingly crafted, traditionally approached point-and-click
title, in the vein of the Monkey Island
classics. In all fairness, it delivers on
this particular promise satisfyingly.
It just forgot to, y'know, make it fun and that.
What's so frustrating is just how
close this was to being an absolutely brilliant game.
The ingredients are all there. The story is suitably
ridiculous, the locations beautifully drawn, the characters
well-written and competently voiced, and the cinematic
polish - especially for such a low-budget production -
rocketing through the roof. But A Vampyre Story
falls utterly flat on its arse as a result of some woeful
narrative pacing and overly long, repetitive
stretches. In spite of all its merits, this is a
tedious, laboured experience.
overblown introductory sequence..."
I'll say it a million times, but I'd
much rather play a short, snappy, refined and
always-enjoyable game than one that throws in a steaming
heap of filler just so I get my money's worth. A
Vampyre Story isn't even that long a game - I completed
it in around fifteen hours, though I did have a walkthrough
open for some of it - but at least half of that could be cut
with absolutely zero adverse effect on the game. Quite
to the contrary, this huge, blank middle section, comprised
purely of repetitive, long-winded and extraneous puzzle
sequences, actually contributes enormously to A Vampyre
Story's downfall. At five hours, with a more
motional plot, this would have been far superior.
It starts so well. Throughout
the first couple of hours of A Vampyre Story, I was
ready to herald it as the renaissance of the genre.
Its dialogue is witty, its characters are interesting, and
some of the early puzzles are just lovely. But then it
just stops trying. It uses up all its strength in the
early stages, and relies on puzzle after task after dreary
backtracking, all in the name of adding on a few extra hours
to the gameplay time.
Of course, Autumn Moon could have achieved the same goal by
simply finishing the bloody story. This is the first
in a planned series of games, with a plot spanning the whole
lot: a nice idea, but the first instalment suffers heavily
as a result. The whole charade feels like one
enormously overblown introductory sequence, and the story
doesn't stem that far past vampiric lead character Mona
escaping the spooky castle where she's been held
captive. The game box talks about her adventures on
the way to Paris to pursue her dream of singing opera
professionally. If someone could point out where any
of this happens in A Vampyre Story, I'd be hugely
after task after backtracking..."
Sigh. It's not even that it's an
awful game. At least then we could have laughed at the
immense cock-up. Instead, A Vampyre Story comes
across as a collection of brilliant ideas, executed in a
disappointingly convoluted manner. It shows you
glimpses of true greatness, then goes through the motions
and forgets about them. It introduces a lovely little
tale, then can't be bothered to finish it.
It gets brownie points for looking absolutely gorgeous, and
it's a certainly nice little nostalgia-booster. If
you're looking for something to remind you why you loved the
early 90s adventure games so much, you could do much worse
than A Vampyre Story. Crushingly, that's about
the only purpose it serves. It's a perfectly competent
but ultimately dull tribute.
PUBLISHER: Crimson Cow