Written by  :  micnictic (391)
Written on  :  Jan 09, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars1 Stars

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Stay away from it as far as possible

The Good

Not much, but a distinctive visual style, an admittedly admirable job by Bill Tiller. If you haven't heard it already: the guy behind "A Vampyre Story" actually is a former LucasArts employee and worked as graphic artist on such games as "The Dig" and "The Curse of Monkey Island". His style is instantly recognizable, especially when you've played the latter one. Even though "A Vampyre Story" has 3D-rendered characters and a much darker palette of colours, it still features the wacky comic style that was seen in Guybrush Threepwood's third adventure. Of course, the setting has changed from sunny Caribbean isles to the barren land of "Draxsylvania" at the end of the 19th century.

Yeah, the graphics are really fine. As opposed to some other recent adventures, this includes smooth character movements and many special animations for all kinds of actions. The backdrops speak for themselves: the game features lots of stylish and beautiful locations. There's the old Castle Warg, from which heroine Mona de Lafitte has to escape Jonathan Harker style, and later the town Vlads Landing and its surroundings. Every scene is indeed quite wonderful, but that's about all of the nice stuff I can say about this game.

The Bad

The idea behind this game apparently was to do a parody, i.e. something that pokes fun of vampire and horror stories the same way "Monkey Island" did it with its Caribbean buccaneer setting. Problem is, that "A Vampyre Story" isn't even remotely funny. And when this happens with a game that tries so hard to be funny, in almost every second of its annoying existence, then something clearly went wrong.

Being held captive and being turned into a vampire should be quite enough, but Mona has a much more serious problem, that doesn't seem to worry her at all: through the entire game there's an annoying little bat sitting on her shoulder. Said bat answers to the name Froderick and is honestly the worst sidekick I ever saw; a miserable clown and a constant pain in the neck. But Mona is hardly any better. She is arrogant, self-absorbed and stupid beyond belief. There's a difference between the idiocy of Homer Simpson and the pointless and disgusting idiocy of Mona and Froderick. The game actually wants to identify with them, but I never found out, how I should care about these two failed comedians.

Another thing I didn't get is, where the story in "A Vampyre Story" is supposed to be. I have to admit, I didn't finish the game (I simply couldn't stomach its "humor" anymore), but I wasted enough time with it to write a review and I didn't see any substantial plot development. Mona's motivation for getting away from Draxsylvania is explained in the very beginning. Then the game throws some obstacles in her way and lets her meet with a pathetic cast of caricatures, leading to numerous conversations, all tedious and boring. Apart from stupid jokes and farting ravens (the climax of the game's dullness), nothing happens in this so-called "Vampyre Story". The people at Autumn Moon aren't able to tell a story. All they have is their "humor", which lets every third-class television sitcom appear remarkably funny and full of wit in comparison.

How about the puzzle design? Well, at their very best the puzzles are just boring. At their worst, they're senseless and illogical in addition. I still ask myself, how I should have got the idea of pouring Mona's perfume into the lake, that's surrounding the castle. I needed a walkthrough for this, since the game hasn't given me the slightest hint to such a strange behaviour.

To be fair: senseless puzzles like this occur not all that often. Unfortunately that doesn't mean, the other puzzles were interesting, though. First: those much vaunted "ideas" make absolutely no difference for the gameplay. Basically they just represent objects, that Mona can for various reasons not carry around (because they're too heavy or whatever). In the end, you use them just like any other thing placed in your inventory. Second: the vampire abilities aren't breaking new ground as well. Whether it's transforming into a bat or sucking blood from human arteries: Mona's special powers are seldom actively used and then only in very obvious manners. Result: most of the time you still have to deal with conventional object combinations, which are neither creative nor entertaining in this case. Most of them can be solved relatively easy, but you shouldn't expect any fun of it.

Some minor things: the music isn't good, but at least a not utterly annoying aspect of the game. The voice actors aren't bad either, but show a tendency to overdo their characters (which might have even worked, if their lines weren't so crappy). The best example is Mona's terrible French accent. If someone considers it funny to have the leading character permanently speak that way, it really tells its own tale...

The Bottom Line

There's no doubt, that Bill Tiller is a talented graphic artist, but when it comes to other elements of game development (especially the writing part), my advice is: next time hire some people, who know what they're doing. Don't let the graphics fool you. This is garbage.