Vempire is a clunky match-up puzzler that really doesn’t deserve to stand next to instant iPhone classics like Puzzlings, Puzzle Quest, or Aurora Feint. While those games added immeasurably to a familiar formula, the best Vempire can muster are a few artifacts, minions, and enemies that have no real impact on the gameplay experience, even when they work like they should.
In Vempire, you have to grind through multiple spooky-themed levels of matching colored blocks by rotating sets of four to make a chain of four in a row. Once you get the hang of this mechanic, you can pretty much move any block wherever you want, but it’s still a nice variation on something we’re used to. You’re always running against the clock, trying to get an unspecific number of matches to fill up a progress bar.
Blocks, gold, and vials. Woo-hoo.
Where the game falls apart, though, is in the addition of minions, who cast spells when you get certain combinations of mana blocks. Two sets of green mana blocks in a row, for example, summons a slime monster that will take out a random row for you, helping to fill your progress bar. However, you must make these matches one right after the other, so if you accidentally complete a different set of blocks, your progress towards the spell is wiped out.
This makes it a pain to beat certain levels, since we found that minions are clearly the best way to finish the stages. One minor adjustment that would make a big difference in Vempire is simply this: let us keep our progression towards a spell, even if we decide to stop halfway to complete a different set of blocks. This roadblock is just unnecessary.
Also, some of the minions are more trouble than they’re worth. Matching two sets of white mana potions will halt time for 10 seconds, but it will definitely take you more time than that to make the matches. Another complaint is that the money you earn in a round won’t be added to your total unless you actually beat the level, so you won’t get any consolation prize for losing.
The user-unfriendly nature of Vempire made playing this game a chore, but there was one handy bug that rescued us. Towards the end of the game, our progress bar began filling up by itself, completing each round automatically in a matter of seconds. While we were grateful to not have to play the end of the game ourselves, this is still a terrible glitch for anyone who might actually be enjoying themselves.
Vempire isn’t the worst game we’ve played on the iPhone, but it’s hardly worth your time and money, despite the cute graphics and occasional stabs at strategy. Skip this one, and you’ll never have to wonder what you’re missing.