A Vampyre Story Review (PC)

Hurrah! Autumn Moon Entertainment’s latest game has finally hit stores. Why is this important? Well, it’s a clear sign that the adventure genre lives. Autumn Moon’s made up of old Lucas Arts employees who hold a common view that the adventure game is still a viable development choice. 2008 has shown that the genre is still alive and kicking, but the actual standard of games has left a question mark hovering over its future. Episodic gaming is more prevalent in adventure gaming than any other genre and A Vampyre Story is the latest fresh I.P. to hit the scene.

A Vampyre Story takes place in your stereotypical 1880’s European castle. Think Count Duckula’s home with gothic architecture, a moody lake filled with ‘scary’ creatures and plenty of thunder and lightning. You play a melodramatic female vampire known as Mona who’s been kidnapped by the tiny lord of Castle Warg, Shrowdy. It’s a tough world in Draxsylvania and it’s not long before Shrowdy finds himself victim of the stake. Left alone in the castle, it’s your chance to point and click your way to escape.

Luckily you’re not alone. You are accompanied by a humorous bat that goes by the name of Froderick. He is the game’s comic relief; rich in sarcastic responses; witty dialogue and helpful hints. The voice acting successfully escorts the writing allowing for a sharp script that entertains. The plot’s fluid, but never takes itself too seriously. This is directly aimed at those who want to have fun while they explore a competent story. Character development is right up there with the best and it results in a well rounded narrative package.

The game delivers all of the above via well animated cut scenes. The game’s cartoony approach suits the drama and setting particularly well. It’s a joy to watch and it’s difficult not to get sucked in. This is one game where you don’t feel the urge to rush through, skipping the plot developments. It’s a game where you laugh out loud out of genuine entertainment. It is how adventure games should be.

When the game finally gives up control, the animated approach is continued. The game’s environments are deliciously recreated from the window to hell to the crude torture implements. Everything is authentically gothic, yet has a slight comedic edge. If this was a ‘serious game’, we would be seeing an obsession of browns and greys, but the game manages to throw in dashes of colour where needed. Character models are detailed and distinctive. The visuals are unique and therefore deserve full praise. Another advantage of the cartoon approach is the machine-friendliness of the game. It will run on any half decent rig thanks to a stable engine.

While the game’s aesthetics / scriptwriting offer something new, the actual core gameplay sadly doesn’t. The innovation gets stunted by a traditional approach to game design. You’re constricted to set perspectives where movement follows a defined path (and is committed by pointing and clicking). Item interaction comes down to context sensitive clicking. The interface usually allows conversation (by conventional dialogue trees), examination to which Froderick gives up an entertaining quip, searching / using (which is self explanatory) and flying (which is a selective form of navigation).

Inventory management is the only other HUD / UI that you deal with and that’s a basic click on object, apply to other object. If it’s a no-go, you get a stock phrase of “this cannot be used with that,” which can begin to annoy. The game’s difficulty results in plenty of guesswork and unless you’re extremely logic-based, you’ll be occasionally frustrated. There’s plenty of item manipulation which once figured out will show its simplicity. If you’re stuck, a friendly press of the Tab key brings up all the interactive points in the screen.

All this comes together in a digitalisation of the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The game’s got shiny visuals that are definitely unique, but it fails to push any boundaries in the core game design. There’s enough there to get adventure veterans excited and you’ll be kept entertained throughout the game.

Best Gaming Moment: Witnessing the castle’s comedic torture chamber.



By Nicolas19 (SI Core) on Dec 08, 2008
I love the adventure genre, but can't really immerse to it cartoon-style. For example, Grim Fandango, loved the storyline, but all those drawn crap... maybe I'm just too serious:)
The Sherlock Holmes series, of, above all: Agon - Lost sword of Toledo, real masterpieces!
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 08, 2008
Look's like Disney cartoon in a game. I'm not impressed with this one, kids maybe love this game. But i'm not a kid....
By devel (SI Elite) on Dec 08, 2008
This seems like the style of Tim Burton's, A bryde corpse, won't you agree?
Read the review and still think this is worth buying if you have spare time and have children too. But don't get this one if the love of your life is a good old FPS.
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Dec 09, 2008
I like adventure games - as a base - but mostly I get annoyed with stupid quests like applying a duck to a hat to be able to walk into a common room etc. I like logical ones like the Sherlock Holmes games. Weird and "crazy" adventure games that turns out to a trial and clicking bonanza is not what I prefer to spend my time on now adays. This sounds so so. Good review though!
By Nicolas19 (SI Core) on Dec 09, 2008
Exactly what I think, FoolWolf! A crime to be investigated, a noble quest to be undertaken, major thinking and logic - that's what I seek in an adventure title, not some fantasy cartoon weirdness.
By Marco_Fiori (SI Veteran Newbie) on Dec 09, 2008
You've all raised relevant points. I suppose it depends on whether you're a fan of the cartoon approach.
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 09, 2008
Tim Burton's, A bryde corpse, yes that's true. And my heart is belonged to FPS game, so.....
Anyway, do anybody have play this game yet? I'm curious....
By devel (SI Elite) on Dec 09, 2008
Well you do have to consider that beeing a cartoon style it calls out to younger audiences so the type of quests can be from killing a Boss or putting hats in ducks, that foolwolf likes so much :). But that isn't the case actually, as long as everyone likes the game in it's hole, I guess either the producers and the players will be happy.
By RurikGreenwulf (SI Veteran Newbie) on Dec 12, 2008
I think It would be interesting game, and to the cartoons not everybody has a superPc so It would be a good choice for us who dont have the superPc It look good to me that some decided to not force the people to buy a superPc for playing a game dont ya
By devel (SI Elite) on Dec 12, 2008
You're kindah right Gr'uman, since the game style is cartoonish, the Graphics card can handle it a bit better than for example.. Crysis! I'm kidding, Crysis isn't as anywhere near from being beaten by another game.
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 13, 2008
Attract younger audiences, low specifications pc, and cartoon style! Great combination, they can reach every gamers, no matter what their PC and their ages..... If the game is cool, why not?
By devel (SI Elite) on Dec 13, 2008
Espeacially now that it's Christmas, kid's will ask for the game as a gift and parents see that it's affordable and requires low specs, so they buy it and everybody gets happy, right? I know i would hehe
See if my cousin want's this, she'll have a blast.
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 13, 2008
Yeah, it will be a good gift for X-mas. I gave my little brother Banjo Kazooie thanks to the review from Strategy Informer. Maybe i can use Vampyre Story as a gift on X-Mas or New Year..... thanks a lot, SI!
By devel (SI Elite) on Dec 14, 2008
You give presents in New year as well? Uau thats cool! Hope they'd do that here.
And i read SI's review on Banjo too, the only part i didn't like was the part where my old xbox stopped working! Awesome isn't it? Maybe I'll ask a friend if he's thinking of buying the game.
By crawlroman (SI Core) on Mar 12, 2009
This game is one of my favorites=D
I love playing it
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Mar 12, 2009
Played the demo... I really really expected a lot from this game. And except weird humor, this game has nothing else to offer. :|