At bit-tech, we have a well-known love of adventure games and the old LucasArts adventure games especially being especially important items in our gaming histories, but the sad reality is that the age of the adventure game is considered by many to be deader than the main character of A Vampyre Story.
The so-called death of adventure games is hotly debated. Was The Curse of Monkey Island or Grim Fandango the final nail in the coffin? Is the genre really dead, or just hibernating? Does it really matter? One thing that’s generally taken as fact is that the genre was greatly injured by LucasArts' decision to focus almost exclusively on making Star Wars games.
The good news for true adventure games fans however is that LucasArts' withdrawl from the market also saw a number of talented developers ejected into the market place. People like Tim Schaefer, Dave Grossman and the lesser-known Bill Tiller, who worked on everything from The Secret of Monkey Island to the ill-fated Full Throttle 2.
While what some of those developers have done in the meantime is well documented, what Bill Tiller has been up to hasn’t seen the same level of exposure, mainly because of problems finding a publisher. Finally though, Bill and Co. have released their game, A Vampyre Story.
Very much in the vein (sorry) of the old LucasArts games, A Vampyre Story tells a story in the familiar template of a somewhat geeky outsider following their dreams through a stream of devious puzzles and baffling illogic – except that most games in the framework aren’t about vampiric opera singers.
The undead singer in question is a young lady called Mona who, accompanied by her friendly bat Froderick, is determined to find a way to Paris so that she can resume her training as a world-class operatic talent – a plan that was disrupted when she was kidnapped and made a vampire by a Dracula wannabe called Shrowdy.
Admittedly then A Vampyre Tale sounds a bit too kitsch and tooth-curlingly cute for the average hardcore PC gamer, but if Pixar has taught us one thing it’s that some things can be universally likeable. That’s pretty much the story here then as, despite the eye-rollingly adorable sidekick Froderick, the game still manages to entice and interest players who give the game a chance.
It does have to be said though that there are some parts of the plot that are a little lacking and baffling. Mona is a confused and somewhat ditzy character by nature, but she also doesn’t seem to understand that she actually is a vampire. The self-delusion she’s spun around herself explains the blood she drinks as fine, soupy wines – though she doesn’t have a problem with transforming into a bat.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing admittedly as, if anything, it helps to make the character a bit more interesting and flexible, but we would have liked to learn more about her and what the backstory for the game is. A vampire setting may be universally understandable, but some fundamental pieces of the story (such as the curse which initially confines Mona to the castle) are slightly eclipsed in favour of the witty banter.