Animated adventure games with a strong undercurrent of humour went through their Golden Age in the days of LucasArts’ Full Throttle and the Monkey Island series, and dedicated adventure fans have had to wait a long time for anything recently that comes close.
It therefore comes as no surprise that A Vampyre Story is the brainchild of Bill Tiller, who worked on The Dig and the Monkey Island series before starting Autumn Moon Entertainment. The story is set in the spooky castle Warg in Draxsylvania in 1895, to where beautiful opera singer Mona de Lafitte was transported after wicked vampire Baron Shrowdy von Kiefer ‘turned’ her.
In denial about her newly acquired undead status, Mona just longs to escape and be back in Paris so she can realise her dream of appearing at the Paris Opera. She pours out her woes to her wisecracking bat buddy Froderick and, when Shrowdy gets staked after running into some vampire hunters, Mona decides this is her opportunity to make her bid for freedom.
Using more than 50 lovingly hand-drawn locations, the game is a classic point-‘n’-click in the Old School mode using a coffin shaped inventory to collect, combine and use items on objects and ‘hot spots’ scattered around each scene. A pop-up menu allows you to talk to, examine and interact with increasingly bizarre characters and objects, plus Mona can fly to higher locations and alternately change from bat to human shape.
The puzzles mostly revolve around sorting out combinations, creating recipes, gathering samples together and finding lost items. If you have problems finding all the objects in a scene that might be of use, hitting the TAB key will reveal them all to you. Changing scenes can be done with a single click but moving Mona around inside a scene does take a while.
Humour is very much at the forefront here, from the names of characters (such as Dr Riga Mortus and a pack of rats called Frankie, Sammy, Joey and Dean), to a talking Iron Maiden and books with titles like A Teen Campers Guide to Crystal Lake and The Dark Night Returns. But there’s also a running gag commentary from Froderick virtually every time Mona pauses to examine anything or make a decision. Most of the time this is quite witty but after a while you’ll find yourself skipping lots of the dialogue as it seriously slows the action down.
One other word of warning: this is only the first part of a three-game series so don’t be too shocked when it stops abruptly. Should have put this on the box cover, though, Bill.