Join the city guard they said. It’ll be easy they said. Send their strongest warrior or be wiped out by a crazed warlord they said. Get killed you did, but it definitely wasn’t enough to keep you down. Waking up starving for blood, you drink the closest corpse next to you as you head out for revenge not for your village, but for being killed and not being happy about it.
Vampire’s Fall: Origins was originally released for mobile platforms back in late 2018 and it has just recently been revamped for the PC. I think it’s important to state this as while the visuals look like that of the PC, most of the menus’ visuals are definitely configured for a touch screen so while using a keyboard works really well as everything has its own keybinding, moving the mouse around can be a bit of a pain. There’s also supposed to be controller support, but as of the time of this writing, I couldn’t get my XB1 nor XB1 Series 2 Elite controllers to work. There was just zero response.
Moving along though, and I was rather impressed by the depth of adventure laid out before me. Treated to a quick tutorial to teach you the ropes, it’s not long after this point that you find yourself raising from the dead and hungry for blood. I would have liked a bit more anything on this front as other than one NPC that asks you to turn him or kill him, the only other time your lineage really comes up is hours down the line when you meet a few people that had been turned by the one you turned, if you did it of course. Otherwise, your vampireness is probably the only reason that you can keep getting your ass kicked if not killed and coming back again and again in order to get your revenge.
Gameplay is actually rather simple. You move around a map, you talk to people, you accept quests if you want to, and you keep moving on until you get into a fight. Color palette wise there’s not a whole lot to look at but it sells the story that you’re basically stuck in a shithole of dark trees, swamps and barren hills. Running along the roads is always safer and generally faster to reach new places, but if you want to explore and find chests with gold and fight enemies for gold and experience to level up? You’ll have to go off the beaten path.
This is probably where things were a bit hit and a miss for me, and I’m not talking about hit probabilities. Combat is either really easy, or really hard. There’s no real middle ground as leveling up only really gets you new skills while attack power and defense are at the mercy of your gear that is generally really expensive. You can equip a sword and shield, two different weapons, chest armor, leg armor, boots, gloves and trinkets. Some of this you can pillage off of enemy corpses but most of the time it’ll be bought with tons of gold making you wonder, which piece do you want first, or which do you need as if you go just a bit too far from where it’s safe, you’ll more often than not be dead in two seconds as the enemies are just way too powerful.
While you’ll be spending half your time running around the map and looking for where to go next or find something or someone for a quest, the other half you’ll be fighting for your life. Combat was actually really fun and depending on how you’ve set yourself up, fighting even tough enemies is possible as long as they don’t cut your focus down. To fight an enemy you have one standard attack and then a series of abilities that require a certain amount of focus to use. These abilities include teleporting behind an enemy and backstabbing that can do up to five attacks, plowing forward and biting them to regain hit points, launching bats to cause damage over time or breaking their defense while also being able to bolster both yours and sharpen your weapon for more damage.
Each turn that you attack you’ll gain more focus which is dependent on what kind of skills and boosts that you get from items. In general though, you’ll be getting about ten and backstabbing requires thirty, bats thirty five, and stealing blood for health forty-five. These aren’t abilities that you can just use whenever you want, you have to calculate when’s the best time to use them. As a bonus though, every few turns you get a surge of focus that allows you to chain a few attacks as long as you have the total focus to do so. Adding in some later abilities where you can add the chance for a normal attack after all of the chained ones? Things slowly fall into your favor, just never enough to make things “normal” on the easy to hard scale.
For someone like me, the difficulty spike makes me think of older RPGs like Final Fantasy 1-5, Dragon Quest 1-3 and I was fine with them. My issue with the spike is that the gold allocation to buy new gear doesn’t quite follow that spike so often by the time I’m finally getting this gear and finding the way forward again, the same jump occurs and I sure as hell don’t have the money to buy even newer gear as I literally just did that. So it’s a bit of a balancing act in this department where you’ll honestly need to put some time aside to grind.
Finally, what I probably loved the most, was the dialog with the various town peoples and “evil” spirits. It’s fun, it’s quirky, it gives you a reason to go about doing things for these people even if the quest rewards themselves should probably be more than enough. My best example that just had me laughing was this long winded quest of a town besieged by stupidity. So you go see the spirits to lift the curse. Turns out they arne’t cursed by stupidity, they are cursed to not be able to drink milk… they are just so stupid that it seems like a curse. The spirit got a kick out of it, I got a kick out of it and at least those townspeople could now drink milk. And a lot of quests were like this one making it fun to explore and seek them out since the rest of the world could feel empty while running between towns, villages, cities and your next fights.