Having been ported over from mobile to PC and now consoles, I really didn’t know what to expect out of Vampire’s Fall: Origins. That being said, if you’re an RPG fan interested in a vampire tale, don’t let its modest roots and price tag scare you away as there is some good fun to be had here.
Some games are difficult to pick up and play, while others are pretty straight forward. Vampire’s Fall: Origins is among the latter, and that’s a good thing. While it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table in terms of game mechanics or general storyline, Vampire’s Fall: Origins has plenty of solidly entertaining moments.
Things begin inauspiciously enough, as these types of RPG tales tend to do. There’s a great darkness sweeping the land and you’re a freshly recruited soldier looking to make a name for himself. The dialog is often pretty cheeky, poking fun at things right out of the gates when your commander gives you a bit of grief for being a wet-behind-the-ears new soldier who doesn’t even have real gear to speak of. You can almost feel his disdain as your newly minted warrior gets bitten by a rat and needs a healer to cure your wounds. This all serves as the introductory tutorial to the greater game that still manages to elicit some grins along the way.
You run around, getting a handful of simple tasks completed when the army of darkness shows up on your village’s footsteps. The Big Bad in this situation then says to have the village send someone to face him in 1-on-1 combat for the future of its people. In a matter of moments the authority figures who had only minutes before been picking on your inability to protect yourself are now volunteering you as tribute to be their new champion. Of course, since the game can’t end fifteen minutes in, you get your butt whipped and the village is slaughtered. Except… you wake up, a vampire and thus your tail of revenge begins in earnest.
It’s all a bit campy, but at the same time still deals in plenty of dark themes along the way. In terms of the gameplay, it’s touted as tactical turn-based, but it’s really less about tactics and more about making sure you grind. That’s not really a bad thing as I tend to be a grinder in my RPGs anyways, but if you don’t take your time and grab every piece of gear and battle at every given opportunity, you will run face first into some pretty severe difficulty spikes that seem entirely unfair. Enemies can hit hard and new equipment that’s worthwhile tends to cost quite a bit of money. This all became evident in the training campaign where I stumbled onto the world that’s your primary narrative objective early on and got walloped in a couple of rounds. So I ran around doing odds and ends and gaining levels and gear and then went back and handled him easily.
These imbalance issues can be a little frustrating, as it tends to discourage risky exploration, because odds are if you stray too far too quickly, you’ll get your ass handed to you. The actual combat is pretty simple as you pick the type of attack you want, using focus / special points to pull off / combo attacks that will give you the upper-hand in combat certainly help, but I had to be careful not to get careless because Vampire’s Fall: Origins can be pretty unforgiving if you are. It’s not an impossible game by any means, just one that requires some patience / grinding like the old dungeon crawlers of old that rewarded persistence with incremental progress.
The primary ways in which your character improves is through equipment and gaining levels – and thereby selecting items off of some branching talent trees. There are tons of quests to be done and a surprisingly robust world to explore for having been a mobile game. Truth be told, the quality of Vampire’s Fall: Origins is surprisingly high given its rather humble origins. The visuals are not going to blow you away by any means. It’s sort of a dark, dingy, gray game which reflects its gothic theme nicely. Buildings really don’t look all that different from one location to most of the others, but the burning lanterns that punctuate the darkness somehow manage to be eye-catching and almost comforting when you find a new settlement. The character you customize as well as your opponents in combat are pretty stiff in their movements. They almost look and feel like paper cutouts just going through the limited set of motions.
The actual controls were a bit weird at times, especially in combat or making decisions. Hardly a deal-breaker as it relies in pressing in a direction on the pad instead of the usual pressing of face buttons or moving through menus. I suspect this was an intentional design choice to keep things as close to the mobile origins where everything was a tap and you didn’t have to slide back and forth and around via menus to choose things (though you still do that when you’re selecting new skills or pieces of gear to wear, so it’s sort of inconsistent).