A Vampyre Story
by Danyboy and Draclvr
February 6, 2009
Deep within the walls of a gloomy castle in the equally gloomy land of Draxsylvania, the young, gifted opera singer Mona De Lafitte is held captive by her tormentor, the vampire Baron Shrowdy von Kiefer. Ever since she was transformed into a vampire by Shrowdy and whisked off to Draxsylvania, her greatest wish has been to return to Paris, continue her singing career, and one day become a star at the Paris Opera.
When Shrowdy fails to return from a nightly foray, she at last sees an opportunity to flee. Together with her only friend and confidant, a cheeky bat named Froderick, she escapes from her prison and tries to find her way back to Paris. During her flight through Draxsylvania, where she encounters some strange inhabitants and some even stranger challenges, Mona must learn not only to accept her vampire nature, but also to use the abilities she has acquired to her advantage.
Mona De Lafitte is our heroine in this classic adventure game. She is a talented opera singer whose dream is to become a fabulous opera singer in Paris. She is stylish, beautiful, and also very intelligent. On her way to realizing her dream, she is kidnapped by a wishy-washy vampire named Baron Shrowdy Von Kiefer. The Baron's dream is to keep Mona for himself, so he imprisions her in his castle and turns her into a vampire against her will. Soon Mona will learn there is no escape, but she refuses to accept the fact that she is a vampire. She insists that the Baron is bringing her a slightly thick, slightly salty wine to nourish her. One night, when the Baron leaves the castle to bring back Mona's nightly "wine," he is killed by a couple of somewhat inept vampire hunters. Finally, Mona has a chance to escape, but it won't be easy. Baron Shrowdy Von Kiefer has hidden keys and set traps to make her escape torturous. Will her charms and beauty help her find allies among those who are there only to make sure she never leaves?
Mona is lucky as she isn't completely alone. Froderick is the perfect sidekick. He is a sarcastic and funny bat who will help her out in many ways. His sarcasm and wit doesn't quite hide how much he adores Mona.
Mona does not fit the mold of the normal vampire we all know. In the beginning, she even refuses to accept the fact that she is a vampire. But even as she begins to accept her nature, she isn't a bloody killer who exists for the pleasure that drinking blood gives her. She keeps her dreams of being a famous opera singer, and this makes her a very captivating character. During the game, Mona encounters characters such as a talking Iron Maiden torture device named "Barb," a talking fountain named Ozzie and a "Rat Pack" consisting of rats named Frankie, Joey, Sammie and Dean. (We wonder if the original members of the Rat Pack are rolling over in their graves!) Some of the characters help Mona willingly, but some only help after being tricked by our lovely and crafty vampire.
Graphics and Gameplay
A Vampyre Story is a third person point and click game. In the main menu panel you can access: New Game, Load Game, and Exit to Windows. You can change the options on the Main Page. In the Options menu you will be able to change the volume of the sound effects, the voice volume, or the music volume. You can also select if you want dialogue text or not, the antialiasing options, and the quality of the lighting.
When you press the ESC key, you will access the gameplay menu where you can choose between Return to Game, Save Game, Load Game, New Game, and Exit the Game. Within the game, when you right click, a coffin will appear, and in it you will find your inventory. When you click on a character or an object, the main cursor changes to a cross where you can select from four options. You select an option by click-hold-moving to the selected option. You can select a hand (pick up or use), a mouth (to speak), an eye (to look at or to read), and a bat (that allows Mona to use some vampyre skills such a turning into a bat and flying).
The SPACEBAR is also another useful key. It allows you to skip cutscenes and dialogues and also allows you to move Mona faster. Click on a place you want to go and press the SPACEBAR. Mona will then move more quickly.
Most of the time when Mona collects objects, they show up in the coffin, but other times she says the object might be useful later. Then she only collects the "idea" of where the object is. When needed, you click on the ghostly image of the object, and a short cutscene shows Mona transforming into a bat and flying away with Froderick to pick up the object. This is a very nice feature, and the little cutscenes are fun to watch. You know that you are collecting objects for a good reason, and they are actually put to good use. You will need to use all the options with each item to trigger an event or sometimes to just get a clue.
The graphics are beautiful and very colorful. The atmosphere is not the usual dark and forbidding feeling we expect in a vampire game. But in this vampire game, with its humor and the lovely Mona as our protagonist, it feels appropriate. There are more than twenty five beautiful locations with loads of details in each scene and lots of objects to look at or interact with. Some of the cutscenes are long, but they are worth every minute of entertainment.
Be aware that there is some swearing and a few mild sexual references, with most of them coming from Froderick. Mona simply won't say bad words. One of her funnier moments is trying to describe a "lady of the evening" without using the actual word. When she is angry at Shrowdy, she tells him to, "...go to heck!" Barb, the Iron Maiden, talks explicitly about her "inner workings" and other torture and deaths that happened, but all this blends perfectly with the dark humor of the game. Make sure you click on all the dialogue options. If you don't, you will miss some of the best parts of the banter between Mona and Froderick and the best humor in the game. Some of it is very clever, and you have to think twice to pick up on it.
Almost all of the puzzles are logical and very easy for more experienced gamers. Most are inventory based, but there are some more interesting ones like mixing ingredients to make a chemical solution, opening a combination lock, or collecting and mixing ingredients to make a golem. Danyboy wished there would have been more puzzles. Drac found the number of puzzles adequate.
Interesting facts about the game
The TAB KEY shows you all the active spots in the scene.
The game is ALT/TAB friendly
Interesting inventory system
You will learn Mona's vampire abilities and limitations at the same time as she does.
Dialogue and Sound
The sound effects are great and placed at the right place and time. Of course the game is funny, but sounds also make the game creepy from time to time. Mona's voice is perfect. She has a little "je ne sais quoi" as only a French woman speaking in Engligh can have. Danyboy found her voice sexy; Drac detected an occasional "Tweety Bird" accent mixed in with the French to English accent, which only made her more endearing.
There is a nice variety of music pieces and each one is perfect to fit both dramatic and humorous parts.
Bugs and/or patches
Danyboy: The first time I played the game, I couldn't see any of the cutscenes. I looked for updates for my video drivers and there were none. I also looked for a new DirectX version and couldn't find one. A couple of days later, I went back to the Microsoft website and saw an update for DirectX. I downloaded and installed it, turned off the video acceleration and was finally able to get the cutscenes. I didn't encounter any other problems. I played the game with the patch installed. I posted my problems with the cutscenes in the Vampyre Story forums and unfortunately didn't get even one reply or any hints about what to do. I got some suggestions and help from TAC which I have kept and will use to help others in the same situation I was.
Draclvr: I experienced "stuttering" during the cutscenes. The video would finally freeze, and then I would hear the audio. After the cutscene, the game would resume. I didn't post at the Vampyre Story forums, but I found a stickied post there which advised that I update my audio drivers. The post provided links for several different audio card driver updates including on-board audio and for both XP and Vista. When I updated my on-board audio, the cutscenes played perfectly for me. I also played with the patch.
OS: Windows XP/Vista
CPU: 1.6 GHz Pentinum 4 or Equivalent
RAM: 512 MB
Disk Space: 3 GB Available
Video Card: 256 MB Graphics Card, GeForce FX-Generation or ATI Radeon 9500 (DirectX 9.0 c Compatible)
Sound: Direct X 9.0c Compatible Sound Card
DirectX: 9.0 c or Higher
Input: Mouse, Keyboard and Speakers
Danyboy's computer specifications:
OS: Windows Vista SP1
RAM: 3072 MB
Processor: Intel (R) Core (TM) 2 Duo 3.00 Go
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT
Sound: Onboard Sound Controller
Disk space: 1st 218 Go and 2nd 252 Go
Draclvr's computer specifications:
OS: Windows XP Home SP2
RAM: 2 GB
Processor: P4 @3.0 Ghtz with hyperthreading
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT
Sound: On-board sound controller
Disk Space: 160 GB
The scenes are simply outstanding with the music and sound effects completing each scene perfectly. The banter between Froderick and Mona will remind you of that between old married couples. They know what the other is thinking, and each makes the other whole. More puzzles would have been a plus for Danyboy. Don't skip any of the dialogue - it's worth the price of the game in Drac's opinion.
On a final note, this game comes close to being a masterpiece even knowing that there is no such thing as perfection. We both had a lot of fun playing it, and laughing out loud was not uncommon. So don't be afraid to take a bite out of A Vampyre Story , and we hope you have as much fun with it as we did. It ended in a way that makes us hopeful for a sequel. We haven't seen enough of Mona and Froderick yet and hope to see an end to their journey.
The Adventure Company
A Vampyre Story