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A Vampyre Story review

Mediocre
AT A GLANCE
  • Fantastic premise
  • Beautiful art design
  • Entertaining script
  • Asks for lots of retreading
  • Bloated and long-winded puzzles
  • Some nasty bugs

The concept of an opera-singing vampire, desperate to be a star on the Paris stage, is fantastic adventure game fodder, both for its originality and for the many puzzle-design possibilities in the traditional vampire weaknesses. Every room is a thing of beauty; a glorious mix of Tim Burton and Monkey Island that doesn’t need advanced technology to impress. The music is excellent. No surprise as the hand of ex-LucasArts staff is very much at work here, especially the art of project lead Bill Tiller.

Sadly, that’s where the praise ends. Outside of the story, the fun characters and entertaining script can’t hide the fact that it’s a very flabby game, with the opening areas especially demanding so much retreading of ground that you practically carve a groove in the floor. Puzzles are bloated and long-winded – while there’s a reasonable internal logic to many of them, it’s usually poorly conveyed to those of us without a complete copy of the design notes already lodged in our heads. Some nasty bugs don’t help matters here, especially the perfume bottle that you can only empty once – even if you accidentally refill it before the puzzle it’s needed for. Or the weirdness that can happen when skipping through dialogue and the very, very laborious incidental animations that accompany most of the inventory puzzles.

Things start to open up a bit when you finally escape from the evil castle you start the game in, and the style switches to a good old Four Map Pieces-style quest out in the fresh air. The puzzles don’t improve by much, but having several objectives to work on at once offers some much needed flexibility. If there was more to see and less padding in what we actually got, it might even have earned the game a pass. That’s how good Mona’s world is, and why it’s extra disappointing to be robbed of the glorious Tiller version of Paris the plot never gets round to letting us sink our fangs into. Boo! Hiss! Growl!

A Vampyre Story isn’t just not as good as the old LucasArts classics – it’s half the game they were. Literally. Imagine Grim Fandango ending as Manny drove out of the opening city, or Monkey Island ending on a cliffhanger as Guybrush Threepwood set sail in search of its famous Secret. This barely scratches the surface of the contemptuous way A Vampyre Story leaves you hanging. Even Runaway 2 served up a better ending, and that finale consisted entirely of characters boasting that you’d achieved nothing. At least it could pinky-swear that it was just bad storytelling and not, say, its second half being chopped off in the name of a sequel. Whether that’s actually what happened to Mona’s story or not, it’s damn well what it feels like.

A Vampyre Story has been in development for so long and through a development process so torturous that being mean to it feels like kicking a puppy to death with a blunt stiletto heel. It’s not a lazy game: there’s love dripping from damn near every pixel. We had high hopes that the result would finally bring back that LucasArts magic, indeed, we desperately hoped so when first putting the disc in the drive. But hope wasn’t enough. This is one story that lost more than its soul in the telling.

Dec 12, 2008

More Info

Release date: Nov 25 2008 - PC (US)
Nov 28 2008 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Ascaron Entertainment
Developed by: Autumn Moon Entertainment
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor, Suggestive Themes, Tobacco Reference, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:
16+

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5 comments

  • Kattleox - December 13, 2008 3:42 p.m.

    "The perfume bottle you can only empty once" I'm getting this game. That reminds me of Kings quest, right there. The ability to keep going in a game after it was impossible to win is something many games dont do nowadays.
  • FinalAxel - March 10, 2009 9:30 p.m.

    What I really dislike is when reviewers not fan of the point and click adventure games post such reviews that are really unuseful. If you don't like adventure games, don't review them. This is an awesome game. If you like the genre like I do, Buy it, it's worth it trust me. I give this game a solid 8. This is another title that made this genre popular in the first place, it's not action packed... just figure out what to do at a given time to progress the story by combining items in inventory, speaking to people, and once in a while, interact with some type of a machinery or an object, that is the best enjoyment of the genre. At last another game I can enjoy for a while.
  • bysmitty - December 14, 2008 4:52 p.m.

    Wow! Normally, I down with GR's reviews, especially the ones from the PCG team but a 5?!? Hell no! Yeah, the game has a few issues but it is a solid 8, 7 at the worst. A 5 though?!? Respect lost. ...bysmitty
  • maven_zer09 - December 14, 2008 5:12 p.m.

    please post fair review, don't act GS-manner! fair, not biased, surely 5 isn't fair for this game compared to other games that game 5, or score higher! at least the value of this game is much more than this! I'm gonna play it :|
  • DontEatRawHagis - February 26, 2009 6:39 p.m.

    I might play it, probably not though. I like Sam and Max too much. I wish there were Comedic Adventure games though. This is supposed to be a comedy right? Also this review is done by the PCG UK not PCG US.

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