Genre: Bloody Backtracking
Publisher: Agetec Inc.
Release Date: 1/31/13
There are a lot of games out there that try and provide the experience of games that we enjoyed playing in the past, games that are meant to either trigger nostalgic feelings in those of us that are old enough, and made with a simple and clear design to be enjoyable for those of us who didn’t have the joy of growing up on 8 and 16 bit consoles. When done well it can provide for a great video game experience that also fondly recalls some of the classic 2D games. When done poorly it can be a kick in the rose colored glasses and a reminder that the amount of bad 2D games in the past far exceeded the number of good ones.
Bloody Vampire falls into the category of poorly made ones.
The game tells the story of a half vampire and half human hybrid named Latis who hears about a vampire terrorizing a village and decides to do something about it. Think of it like a Saturday cartoon version of Bloodrayne. The plot isn’t really worth paying attention too, we are supposed to believe Latis is a half human/vampire who until just now never really asks what she is, who her parents were, why Cereza (a full vampire who is her friend and assistant) is with her and so on, which makes me think she only received half the chromosomes on her human side. The bad guy is looking for some special crucifixes that can hurt vampires but can’t seem to locate them despite having boss monsters in the rooms just before many of them. Why the crucifixes are different than any other is never fully explained, aside from needing to look for something because this is a video game goshdarnit.
Even though there is not a lot going on in the story, and as said what there is going on isn’t either interesting or well told, the game insists on telling it in large chunks of dialogue told through character portraits that overlay the screen.
Graphically the game looks good on the 3DS. There are nicely detailed backgrounds, and cute pixel art enemies and effects. The character portraits they use for the dialogue are well done. The 3D effect is certainly not needed to play the game, but it creates a nice shadowbox effect that makes the 2D platforming really stand out from the backgrounds and is a nice touch.
That was the good, the bad is the fact that while the enemies are interesting, there is very little variety to them, after the first section of the game the enemies after are mostly just repeated with different color palettes. The bosses are mostly the standard enemies made large. The lack of variety in the enemy types was disappointing.
The game uses the Metroidvania style of action platforming. By that I mean that the game is a platform jumping game with mild puzzles that locks away the ability to progress into harder areas by requiring the player to typically obtain an additional ability. Like the ability to double jump, morph into a ball, ect. My largest issue with the game is that it feels like it was designed by someone who was explained how this genre works but who had no understanding of how to design such a thing.
Let me explain.
Attacking in the game will go against the basic nature of anyone who plays platform games since you have to bump into the enemy to attack it. It is preferable to attack an enemy from behind as to not receive damage back from the enemy in case it is as strong as or stronger than your character. I thought, sure, why not, little Daywalker Jr likes to hockey check enemies to death. However there is no real way of visually determining which enemies are stronger or weaker than you. The early enemies are easy enough to understand, but as you progress you obtain water that increases your attack and defense. These are told to you by little swords and shields, but at no point could I figure out what any of that actually meant in terms of my ability to dish out or take damage. Running into an enemy will kick you back, which means there will be occasions where you run into the next room, and hit and enemy and bounce right back. Ditto narrow platforms.
Sections of the map will be locked out for the aforementioned reason that you might need an ability to reach the next area. There are also areas locked out that require you to reach and light a torch to unlock. There are also areas that are locked away for no other reason than to send you back to the shop to purchase an item needed to bypass the obstruction. I once came across an area that I needed to backtrack and purchase two keys to continue forward, only to get to the next room to find a wall with a different key needed to proceed and had to backtrack again. There’s no point to that kind of game design other than to inflate time spent playing the game.
Speaking of backtracking, there’s no map. None. So there will be points where you will light a torch and see that you unlocked a previously sealed area, now good luck figuring out where that is. This piece of anachronistic game design makes absolutely no sense in this style of game, especially when the game forces you to backtrack at points for no other reason than just because.
So it’s a Metroidvania style game, only with weak combat against repetitive enemies, obstacles without purpose to them aside from requiring you to backtrack, and no map. Like I said, it sounds like someone had the style of game described to them and set out to make a game without understanding what it is that makes those type of games enjoyable.
Aside from my rant about the crappy game design, it controls alright. There’s a jump button and a button to activate the power you have equipped. The powers come from different items you can collect, like a fire ring or a thunder gauntlet. There are a number of different powers you can equip that drain mana from a meter with each use. You can purchase items that refill both your health and mana from the shop, which you purchase with coins earned from moshpitting enemies to the grave. The inventory is presented on the touch screen and everything can be equipped moved around on the touch screen I felt it was easier to just use the buttons to do this as using a finger did not have the accuracy the game was looking for and busting out the stylus to use and item every time was annoying. The currently item equipped can be easily changed with the use of the shoulder buttons.
I don’t know what else to say, aside that for a game called Bloody Vampire there is no blood in the game. Maybe they meant it in the British slang way, as in that vampire sure is a bloody wanker. I don’t know. I do know that as a fan of the style of game that Bloody Vampire tries to capture, I can say that it comes across as an amateur effort that disregards nearly every improvement made to the genre in over a decade, and does things that would’ve felt like a step back for the genre in 1994, much less in 2013.
Short Attention Span Summary: It’s functional, but there’s bad game design everywhere. It was so bad I’m surprised the vampires didn’t sparkle.