Developed by: Early Morning Studio
A little late for Hallowe’en, admittedly, but we’ve got a horror-themed affair for you all today.
Whilst it’s one of the tropes that have been repeated throughout popular culture ad nauseam, vampires are never not cool. Apart from when they sparkle, of course! You know who you are!
And when it comes to vampires in games, it’s no difference. So, what does it take to stand apart from other games featuring the blood-sucking undead? And, more importantly, is Vampire’s Fall: Origins one to…Count…on, or does it deserve a stake through its heart? Let’s find out.
This review was done via a code given to ABG by the developers. Vampire’s Fall: Origins is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, and, of course, Xbox One.
Van Helsing got nothing on your Nosferatu boy here!
“I Vant to Suck Your…”
From the outset of Vampire’s Fall, you’ll notice the world is gothic. Obviously, this should come as a given considering the content. However, it’s bleak, drained of life and vibrancy, and looks like a place you wouldn’t want to inhabit.
“I love what you’ve done with the place”
The game takes place in a 2D, open-world that boasts forests, meadows, villages, towns, and other genre tropes. The typical things you’d find in any RPG setting, really.
There’s a reason this sort of thing is so widely-used; it’s that sense of familiarity. You’ve done it a million times before already.
However, Vampire’s Fall borrows from the JRPG as much as anything else. Chiefly, the open-world boasts random encounters with beasts, soldiers, rogues, and monsters. At first, you’ll find battles aren’t easy to win, despite your best efforts. There’s a serious unbalancing to the battles, actually.
Even as you get more experience and stronger, one wrong move and you’ll lose tonnes of health. And, annoyingly, there are health potions available, but you can’t use them in combat.
The flip-side to it is though, you are a vampire! One of your many strengths and powers includes a health-draining neck bite. The downsides to this are, well, numerous.
First, you need to get to a certain level before you can unlock the ability [it’s early on, but don’t expect to be able to do it from the offset]. Then, you need to use your skill points (acquired through levelling up) to upgrade it before it’ll be worth it. Then, whilst in battle, you need to get a set amount of Focus Points before you can use it. And even then, unless you’re battling a lower-level enemy, or have powered the bite up to it’s near max, you won’t regain much health.
“Suck on this, bitch!”
Ah, yes, I mentioned Focus Points, didn’t I?
So, much like in other turn-based RPGs, your character needs points to use better attacks. In Vampire’s Fall, these are referred to as “Focus Points”. You naturally gain more at the start of each round. What’s more, every three or four turns, you enter “Combo Mode”, which, funnily enough, grants you special combo moves. You’re also granted a larger boost to your Focus Points to use as many moves as you can afford.
It’s relatively easy to gain experience points. Quests and battles alike, even at later stages/higher levels, the points gained are quite steady. You’ll find yourself gaining levels quicker than some other games in the genre. Of course, when you consider the elite level monsters can be found straight out of the first town, it’s a handy mechanic.
“One! Two! Three! Ah ah ahhhh!”
In regards to character customisation, you have a variety of assets to kit yourself out with; hairstyles, skin tone, face type, etc. There’s not a lot of stand-out sprites on offer, but each one looks like it’s been designed by hand.
There is one really cool asset you can customise yourself with, money permitted. Being a vampire, you have supernatural powers and looks. If you’re willing to save up your coins, you can buy any number of unique wings, each with a nifty boost. It’s not just cosmetics we’re dealing with here, folks.
This one’s suited and booted
Annoyingly, it doesn’t matter how you make your character look, as you’ll only see the avatar in battles. In the game world, you have a default sprite that doesn’t change throughout your playtime. Granted, this isn’t an issue so to speak, but it does look a little halfhearted at times.
The overall presentation of the game is as vintage an RPG as you could hope. The NPCs have set dialogues, with some options available to you to broaden the conversation. Don’t expect Obsidian levels of interactions, but the communication is at least there.
That being said, the NPCs don’t always make the world feel any more lived in. They just stand there, waiting for you to talk to them, or, on rare occasions, give/accept quests from/to you. Furthermore, there is next to no voice acting to speak of. Aside from the odd guttural groans, of course.
With that being said, the dialogue doesn’t take itself too seriously, showing the developers are capable of making fun out of themselves. So, swings and roundabouts, really.
“Vhatever Happened to My Transylvania Twist?”
Vampire’s Fall‘s musical score is fitting for the game. It’s bleak, morbid, and depressing dirge sets the tone throughout. Battles sound like epic wars taking place out on the fields – fitting, considering they so often are.
There’s nothing spectacular about the music, certainly nothing that would make you want to buy the OST. However, there’s nothing that sounds out of place in it.
Here’s the Twilight Entry!
Arguably, the worst part of the game is the traversal. The map is fairly sizeable considering the game’s size and will take you a decent amount of time to get around. To counteract this, other games would offer you mounts of some description, or maybe even fast travel.
Vampire’s Fall has neither. In a normal play-through, you’ll easily be spending at least 50% of your time walking around the map.
I mean, just look at the size of this part of the map! And that’s only about one-fifth of the total map!
Unless, of course, you get killed whilst out in the fields. In which case, you’ll end up being dragged back to the last town stead you were in. For a cost, I might add!
“And I ran, I ran so far away. I just ran, I ran all night and day”
In terms of load times, I wasn’t left twiddling my thumbs at any noticeable point. It could be the low-fi graphics on offer, or the sheer fluidity to which Early Morning Studios implemented into the game. Either way, as soon as you hit START, it’s basically a go.
Even wandering around the open-world, there was never a cutscene or fade whilst more in-game assets were loaded to mention. Obviously, when you encounter a battle out in the open, you’ll be warped away from the map. However, there isn’t exactly a long pause whilst the game switches modes. It’s more akin to Pokémon than anything else in that respect. Albeit, a Pokémon game full of depression and potential teenage angst.
My Final Thoughts…
These niggles aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Vampire’s Fall: Origins. It was a welcome break from more serious/detailed RPGs a la The Witcher or Skyrim. The game was easy to get to grips with, and there’s nothing too outside of the familiar [as previously mentioned]. Battles can be as easy or as difficult as you make them, depending on your load-out and/or experience. Different weapons have different types of attack [blunt, sharp, piercing, bludgeoning, etc] and can even inflict additional damage [poisoning, bleeding, “dark”, etc].
The game’s most inadequate feature, however, is definitely the travelling. And yes, I know I’ve already gone over this so it’s a little like flogging the proverbial, but it is an issue.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll spend at least half of your time with Vampire’s Fall walking from place to place. And whilst you could say that about any other RPG, at least those games have ways around it. Vampire’s Fall could benefit from something here, even if it’s just the ability to warp from place to place.
However, with the ability to get actual wings, you’d imagine that flight would be a given. Alas, it simply wasn’t meant to be.
Overall, I’d give Vampire’s Fall: Origins a respectable 7/10. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination. However, for a fun little RPG that you can happily get lost in for an hour or so, it does the job. Just, do be aware of the amount of walking around you’ll end up doing. I wonder if cardio is ever a problem for Dracula?
Vampire’s Fall: Origins is available on Xbox One [obviously], Nintendo Switch, Steam, GOG, iOS, Android. The game retails at £9.99 on Steam and GOG, is free-to-play with in-app purchases on mobile, £10.74 on Xbox, and, weirdly, only £8.99 on Switch*.
*Prices correct at time of press
Vampire's Fall: Origins Xbox One Review
- Overall - 7/107/10
- Engaging battle scenarios
- Fair amount of customisation options
- Vampiric powers that make sense
- Wide array of weapons and armour with buffs and skills
- Easy to grasp mechanics
- Evocative and atmospheric musical score
- Traversal is tedious
- Battles a bit underbalanced, especially in the beginning
ABG’s Senior Editor (News), YouTube content creator/streamer.