On booting up Vampire’s Fall: Origins, there were a few things that come to mind, Diablo, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and classic RPG antics. The downside of thinking about these three? Things could go wrong or rather well.
+Combat is simple but has a decent learning curve to it
+A seemingly shallow, but rather complex gear system
+Fights can be challenging and rather fun
-A rather week, but seemingly promising story
-Framerate jumps and minor performance hitches
-Quest tracking can be rather difficult
-Still feels like a mobile game
When you first boot up Vampire’s Fall: Origins, a few things will come to mind. Among those things, you’ll probably jump to several noteworthy themes. We have the gothic appeal of both Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, but also, Diablo.
You’ll begin to wonder when, if, and how combat will work, which honestly, comes as a surprise with its turn-based RPG focused experiences. That aside, the game itself is quite ambitious, offering a massive world that feels rotten, miserable, and rather drab in areas.
Unfortunately, in my fourty hours with the game, there’s a few things that stuck out the most throughout my entire time with the game. That being said, let’s start with the story.
Vampires, wolves, and hunters, oh my
The story itself is simple: Revenge. The entire premise is that you are hunting down the leader of an undead army, looking to take him out for the undeath he had unleashed upon you. The game starts out with a few basic features. You enter combat, learning basic controls, which sees your commands taking place using up, down, left, and right on the D-Pad.
From there, you take on menial tasks, which include taking out rats, and the likes. From there, you learn about gear, a bit of starting lore, and, well, that’s about it. As you expect, things go from worse to even worse from there when the army of the dead, or rather undead approach.
Much like Kain, Raziel, Louis, and even Armand, you’re thrust into the life of vampirism without even wishing it. In order to seek your revenge, your character begins to embrace their change, learning to use their gifts, knowledge, and well – lack of military training – to the best of their ability.
The story itself, unfortunately, doesn’t improve much from there. I pushed my luck with the story at the 40 hour mark, wishing I’d stopped questing and exploring before then, just so I could complete the story without much of a hassle.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, and you’ll find yourself working as hard as you can to hammer through every barrier along the way, facing down seemingly impossible odds along the way. The drawback comes to a story that plays out at a bit of a sluggish pace and comes off as a rather intriguing game that suffers from its pacing.
The story is slow, but combat, that’s where the game shines
Now, exploring the open world is indeed a fun endeavor. There’s no doubt about what it has to offer whether or not it’s the large open world or even the challenges that come with fighting against its inhabitants. The combat itself is actually where the game shines the most, granted, while combat will feature enemy groups, it’s only a 1 against 1 affair until the first enemy is taken out.
While combat on its surface comes off as rather primitive, almost like a mobile game, it works, and it works very well. Every enemy has their own unique weaknesses, each one has their own mechanics, and each one comes with their own unique abilities depending on the type of enemy you will fight.
After you attack so many times, you’ll get a “combo” handed to you, which allows you to do just what it sounds like; use abilities and or special attacks in a chain attack if you have the Focus Points or FP to commit to the attack. Abilities like Bite will regenerate health, allowing you to stay in the fight a bit longer, but take several turns to build up to, rather than having it readily available at the start of the fight.
The problem here is, the mobile game offerings don’t distance themselves and it can be seen in how it heavily influences the games overall pacing, especially in combat, which is a damn shame as the game has a lot to offer if it weren’t for the mobile experience issues that appear. So let’s talk about that a bit.
At its very core, Vampire’s Fall: Origins, is still a mobile game
When it comes to mobile games, I’m not bothered by energy mechanics, cool down timers, or “buy me” options. I play them for their pick-up-and-go tendencies. I have two go-to mobile titles, which include The Elder Scrolls: Blades and Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare.
Both of my chosen games are simply pick-up-and-go titles. They offer just the kind of experience that a mobile game should and aren’t ones you will simply binge. That’s a major issue that Vampire’s Fall: Origins actually encounters, which is a damn shame, as the game could have actually been something bigger, bolder, and even better.
The combat system puts these mobile mechanics into full display due to, at times, how empty the world feels, how simple the overall design is, but also, what it tries to do best, but ultimately struggles to do. The only part that doesn’t ultimately suffer from it, is the overall difficulty spikes, which seemed to exist in order to implement the games microtransaction system, which in the Switch version, is nonexistent.
Gearing, exploring, and even just trying to enjoy some of the most basic offerings, is a grind, and unfortunately, it’s a soulless grind that doesn’t bring in the appeal that games like Diablo or Bloodomen: Legacy of Kain had to offer back in their heyday. Vampire’s Fall: Origins could have benefited from it too.
Just let me explore the world without massive difficulty spikes that get me killed in starting zones
As someone who loves games with difficulty elevated zones (probably due to my MMO days in World of Warcraft), I love the idea of areas having a challenge, unique creatures, and are willing to ram my teeth down my throat in a single punch. Hell, that’s one thing I love about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
But the ultimate issue here is now that the world isn’t designed to offer a decent challenge as you go. It’s again, the mobile game elements, are still there and it’s clear that those pay wals were used to HELP you through those areas. It’s unfortunate, because getting access to some of your side quests or even a main quest, can lead to an untimely and unfortunate death.
It’s that, “you should have zigged, but instead, you zagged” experiences, even if you are on a main road. It doesn’t take away from the fact that the game developers didn’t want you on your toes or working on quests altogether. They want you to know that the hunter has become the hunted and that there are other creatures that go bump in the night as well.
Moral choices matter and they can be painstakingly difficult ones too
Now, moral choices do exist here. While they aren’t agonizingly painful for you, they can be for your charater, which is actually pretty damn impressive since our character does have a lot to deal with being a rather fresh out of the grave vampire.
The themes do stick through the entirety of your experience. You’ll spend your time unlocking new vampire abilities, learning how to use them, upgrade them, and even demolishing enemies with them. Other areas include topics of discussion where denizens of Avan or surrounding areas, will let you feed from them for some side quests that almost doesn’t matter.
Unfortunately, your moral obligations, which can screw you over, don’t affect your working with the merchants, upgrading gear, or doing what you will in order to progress. Vampire’s Fall suffers from a rather dated gearing system, which also, makes it extremely hard to gear due to how rare it is to find gold and items.
It’s a major inconsistency, that gagain, could be linked to its mobile game origins. It’s a damn shame too, as I do love the fact it could have benefited from the loot grinding merits of Diablo and Sacred, while exploring the dark and grissly world that almost hits the nail on the head, rather than also hitting itself in the finger as well.
Normally, I want to applaud a game that has the will to move from mobile to consoles. I really do. Some of those games have been insanely well done and have benefited from their console variants. Unfortunately, this is one that just doesn’t do it well and it shows.
Vampire’s Fall: Origins
Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, Xbox One, and Switch
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Early Morning Studio
Publisher: Early Morning Studio
Release Date: Available Now
Whether it’s the fact the game truly feels like a pick-up-and-go title where crafting is left on a timer, the areas of exploration where paywalls feel like they existed, or the really shoddy gearing system, Vampire’s Fall: Origins, is one that could have benefited from an overhaul before being ported.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.