|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Autumn Moon Entertainment / Crimson Cow||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: The Adventure Company||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 3, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Most accounts of vampires in print, film, and even video games tend to offer up sex, gore, violence, and horror as a primary means of enticing consumers to become immersed in a particular product. Agreed, such provocative themes are indeed what often draw people in to the dark fantasy realm of the undead, but occasionally something comes along that successfully bucks the trend. Offering a more wholesome, lighthearted, and cartoonish take of vampirism, A Vampyre Story will no doubt succeed in luring many adventure gamers into its depths.
After four years of waiting, a dropped publisher, and other delays, PC gamers were beginning to wonder whether Autumn Moon Entertainments much anticipated point-and-click adventure title, A Vampyre Story, was ever going to see the light of day (bad pun intended). Created by former Lucas Arts developer Bill Tiller known for his contribution to The Dig and The Curse of Monkey Island, among other quality adventure titles the game was originally announced in 2004 and planned for a 2006 release. This month, players finally get to sink their teeth into this stylish, vampiric tale in its entirety. Fortunately, the games overtly lengthy development cycle yields a pleasantly humorous adventure thats about as charming as it is cheesy.
A Vampyre Story follows the comic plight of a somewhat unusual protagonist. The buxomly disproportioned Mona De Lafitte, a budding French opera singer, has found herself imprisoned in a gloomy castle in Draxsylvania by the short and extremely irritating vampire Baron Shrowdy von Kiefer. Though Mona herself has been made a bride of darkness, she chalks up her fangs, pallid demeanor, and a thirst for type O positive Merlot to a little curse. When Shrowdy gets staked by a pair of undead-hunting monks, the vampiress-in-denial decides to make a break for it with the help of her bat buddy Froderick. Unfortunately for them, escaping the castle and returning to Paris is no simple feat thanks to a series of obstacles and other impediments laid out by the counts demonic spirit.
Scouring every inch of the castle for hints and items to use in solving the puzzles necessary to facilitate a successful escape, youll guide Mona and Froderick on their way using many of the traditional methods typically found in point-and-click adventure games. Monas default walking pace is a bit slow, but navigating screens and dialogue can be sped up with a quick tap of the spacebar. As you explore each room in the castle and the environs beyond, youll locate scores of hotspots to interact with. Hitting the tab key reveals all of the available possible locations to interact with in a given screen. Instead of a simple one-click action, selecting a hotspot brings up a crossbar with four options: flying to the selected hotspot, speaking to it, physically interacting with it, and examining it. This gives you greater flexibility in how you choose to explore in the game. The downside is it also makes things move a lot slower than some player will like. Though only a basic amount of intuition is required in determining which action to use on most items and characters, youll frequently have to try several different approaches with many hotspots to be sure you dont miss important clues needed to progress. Given the adventures supernatural theme, expect to be talking to a lot of seemingly inanimate objects.
While occasionally challenging, many of the games puzzles rely on simple logic and common sense. Paying careful attention to clues and items youve collected or seen along the way usually makes it possible to deduce what course of action must be taken to accomplish specific tasks and overcome various obstacles. For example, making a special potion out of different flavors of warm demon snot seems particularly complicated at first, yet careful inspection of the scene will tell you everything you need to know to concoct the proper formula.