Current law dictates that every review of a vampire-based movie or game must open with a tirade about the Twilight series, so here we go: If you’re exhausted by the excess of froo-froo, sparkly vampires who have recently pirouetted into pop culture, the blood-soaked battles and Gothic imagery of Vampire Origins will refresh your damned soul.
You are Vincent, a stone-faced gentleman with powerful enemies of the pointy-toothed variety. Vincent lost his wife to an assassin who mistook her for him. Consumed by rage, Vincent slays vampire after vampire, aiming for the top. Along the way, he meets old acquaintances and makes strange allies.
Eat my balefire.
Vampire Origins’ story is told through cutscenes and some well-developed scenery that’s right at home in a vampire tale: courtyards, cemeteries, and a big, beautiful church. The game’s pre-rendered backgrounds and its greenish, falling-apart zombie vampire cast are reminiscent of an old Resident Evil title. And, like any good survival horror game, Vampire Origins will inspire an inward prayer as you frantically switch weapons and pump shambling fat vampires full of lead and silver.
Gunning down the undead is easy thanks to the game’s tap-to-shoot option. If a vampire is coming at you, tapping it will target its head and then Vincent will blow it away. It’s not a perfect setup, though: There is a noticeable delay between targeting and shooting when the action gets thick. But it’s a much better system than the offered alternative, which is a feckless auto-targeting system.
Bats in the belfry.
Vampire Origins isn’t all about whipping out guns and making vampires wallow in their own ichor. There are a lot of puzzles to solve, a good deal of exploration to undertake, and a few “Oh crap, run!” quick-time events.
Boss fights are particularly original. When Vincent locks swords with the upper tier of vampires, you get him through the ordeal by tracing lines of blood on the screen.
The boss fights are fun to behold, but it can be a challenge to find them. Vincent has a crude compass to guide him through the streets of Vampire Land and its churches, but a map would have been welcome.
Getting through some of the “Aaaah, Run!” moments can be a trial, too. The game is composed of several pre-rendered backgrounds linked up together. When Vincent enters a new area, he’s often facing a new direction. Pressing right to escape a rolling boulder on one screen and then suddenly being expected to press down on the next screen is pretty jarring, and until you memorize the scenery’s patterns, Vincent is going to get squished or speared over and over.
Vampire Origins’ flaws aren’t insurmountable by any means. It’s a fun adventure game with a few minor problems that don’t put too much of a damper on a bloody and satisfying experience. Think of it as enduring a vampire’s bite to gain cool powers.