When a person sits down with an adventure game, the most important tasks that the game has to accomplish are A) be entertaining, and B) not be broken. A Vampyre Story from Autumn Moon Entertainment and The Adventure Company satisfies both of those requirements, but does little to excel beyond simple "worth playing" status.
The game puts the player in control of Mona De Lafitte, an opera singer-turned-vampiress being held against her will in an isolated castle in Draxsylvania. With her best bat-friend, Froderick, she tries to escape and return to Paris on a night when her captor, Baron Shrowdy von Kiefer, has an unfortunate (or fortunate) run-in with the hands of fate. This is where the action begins.
The game operates in much the same manner as any other point-and-click adventure title, but with a few notable unique features. Players click on paths, doorways, stairs, and the like to move Mona and Froderick around the game world, and can interact with objects by clicking and holding down the mouse button on them, then selecting actions from a selection wheel resembling a compass rose. In this way, the dynamic duo can, among other things, examine, talk to, pick up, take, and move these items using the context-sensitive commands that appear on the cross-like interface. Mona can also "remember" the things she sees so that she and Froderick can use them later on. When this happens, an ethereal version of the item — its memory — is placed in the player’s inventory, becoming usable just like the real thing, but also answering the ever-bewildering question, "how does she carry all that stuff?" When a remembered item is used correctly, Mona simply turns into a bat and flies off to get it before performing the desired action. And speaking of bats, Mona’s unfortunate "disease" (which she constantly denies) allows her to learn new vampiric abilities as the story progresses, and then use them to help her advance.
In general, the game’s puzzles are thoughtful enough to not be boring, but also not so ridiculously off-the-wall that normal logic fails to solve them. Often during the trickier portions, Froderick or Mona will give an auditory clue in the form of some key word or phrase, thus helping to prod the player — and the plot — along. There are a few times when necessary items are difficult to spot, leading to temporary hang-ups, but overall, these problems are few and far-between.
A Vampyre Story’s greatest shortcoming is its plot and storytelling, which is not to say that the narrative is horrible, because it is the best aspect of the game, as well. Many of the characters in Draxsylvania are genuinely likable (or despicable), and much of the dialog in the game is witty and amusing. On the other hand, the writing tries so hard to be funny that it takes the corny jokes and puns just a step too far on multiple occasions. The story isn’t all too deep, nor is it so amazing that gamers will be talking about it for years to come, but it is interesting and enjoyable enough to keep players happily involved until the end (so long as Mona’s grating voice doesn’t annoy you to the point of abandoning the game completely).
The cartoon-style graphics fit the light-hearted nature of the story and are generally appealing, save for a few minor clipping and frame rate hiccups. The hand-drawn backgrounds outshine the character models, but the two work well together to create a nice, unified aesthetic that seems perfect for this game. The background music, too, fits the story, and while it is nothing too grandiose, it is varied and effective.
At a bargain price of $29.99, A Vampyre Story is great for players seeking a low-intensity and entertaining adventure. The characters and dialog will keep you smiling (at both the legitimately funny lines as well as the laughably corny ones), the simple, effective controls and sensible puzzles will keep you playing, and the mute button will keep you from throttling Mona. Okay, maybe she’s not THAT horrible.