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A Vampyre Story
"Fangs, but no fangs," says a pale-faced Lewis Denby...

A 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 appreciative.

"...puzzle 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.

DEVELOPER: Autumn Moon
PUBLISHER: Crimson Cow



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