After many years of development and troubles with finding a publisher, Autumn Moon Entertainment finally released its first game, A Vampyre Story. AME is the company of Bill Tiller, who is probably best-known for the fantastic backgrounds he created for Curse of Monkey Island. With Tiller at the helm, great quality visuals are pretty much a guarantee, but how does this adventure stack up in other aspects?

The characters

In any story, characters are vital, they can make or break it. Obviously, the most important characters here are Mona and Froderick, and I think they make a very good duo. Mona is this pretty innocent girl (sometimes unbelievably so, when she keeps denying she’s a vampire), while Froderick (my absolute favourite character, I love that guy) is the world-wise one with the witty remarks. What I liked is that both Mona and Froderick have little things that give them a bit of background, like Mona collecting teapots, and Froderick being a bit of a nerd. As for the side characters, some of them are a bit bland in my opinion, and could have perhaps been fleshed out a bit more, but overall, the characters work.

The writing

As for the story itself, like the characters, I feel that it could have been fleshed out more. That it isn’t probably has got a lot to do with time constraints, but still, I feel that there is some missed potential here. For instance, you don’t really get much detail about what happened before the game starts, like how exactly did Mona end up being a captured vampire? There are some details about this sprinkled in the game, but it seemed a bit flimsy to me. This brings me to another point: history. I like it when a world, in this case Draxsylvania, has a lot of history to explore. While there is a bit of that in the game, I feel that again, there was some missed potential here. It often happens, for instance, that a character will start telling a story, only to be cut short by Mona and/or Froderick because ‘nobody wants to hear that’. Sometimes I did indeed agree with that, but at other times, I was actually sad that I didn’t learn more about the history of a particular character or place.

About the jokes, for me they were hit-and-miss. Some of them were really funny (my personal favourite line has to be “Let’s crush Froderick’s fruits and nuts!” and Froderick’s reaction to it), and some of the references were pretty hilarious (the reference to Leeroy Jenkins comes to mind here), but overall, I felt that the miss-to-hit ratio was a bit on the high side. If I had to come up with a solution for that, it would probably be to get another writer to help out with the dialogue. Another writer’s perspective might garner a larger amount of funny jokes.

The visuals

Well, I think I can be brief here: the game looks absolutely fantastic. A game where backgrounds are all so lovingly crafted with a huge attention to detail is rare these days, and it’s really a feast to play through all the locations. Especially the town in chapter two had something magical about it, evoking great stories of bygone days. There were some graphical glitches with the 3D models, but nothing too serious, and overall, the models blend in well with the background.

The audio

The music in this game is just great, and fitting for the situations. For instance, the kitchen theme has the violins evoking a cat’s meow, which is fitting for Pyewacket, the Siamese cat (and having a Siamese cat myself, I must say that they got the character down very well). In the sports stadium, the band plays cheerful tunes, and especially the ‘Who let the wolves out’ theme is pretty rockin’ there.

Then, there are the sound effects, which are all pretty much what you’d expect. Mona biting someone results in a typical biting sound, for instance, and I found the sounds to be consistently er, consistent with what’s going on on the screen.

The puzzles

I must admit, I had to look at a walkthrough several times, because I wanted to finish the game so badly. Part of the reason for this is perhaps that I’m not always very good at solving adventure puzzles, but I think that another reason is that some of the puzzles were a bit illogical. I think this is because you don’t always know what it is exactly that you’re trying to achieve, or how to achieve it. Overall though, the puzzles are usually pretty good. There were also a number of red herrings, which is always nice, since it makes the player think harder. The feature where you reveal all the hotspots on screen with the Tab-key is also pretty great, in case you miss something.

Conclusion

When I was finished playing, I felt a bit sad that it was over already. This is a testament to the merits of the game, but at the same time, I feel that the ending is a bit abrupt, and the final puzzle isn’t exactly satisfying. But despite some of the annoyances I described above, I had a lot of fun playing this game, and the final cutscene did leave me looking forward to AVS 2. All in all, the game is not without its flaws, but I am confident that the series will only get better, with such a passionate and extremely talented team behind it.

Jan’s Score: 3plus/5 starks

The ” plus ” is for the beautiful hand-painted backgrounds.

Note: Big thanks to GamersGate for providing us with a review copy of A Vampyre Story!

FunFact: Rebecca Schweitzer the actress who gives her voice to Mona did also voice Petra – the main heroine of Emerald City Confidential.