Within the vampire mythos, a vampire can’t enter someone’s home unless it’s invited inside. They have all sorts of ways to get around this, using charm, deceit and even threats, but the fact remains that unless you invite them in, they’re stuck outside.
Vampire’s Fall: Origins is a game that might be knocking on your gaming door, with the prospect of turn-based combat, a large skill tree and a variety of weapons to equip. But while there are some vampire tales that portray them as heroes instead of villains, this is one creature of the night you’re better off leaving outside.
You start off in a small village that’s almost immediately attacked by the game’s main antagonist, the Witchmaster. He’s a big, bad evil sorcerer with an army that’s seemingly immortal and falls into every dark fantasy trope. It’s not important. The Witchmaster is a means to an end because within minutes of starting the game, he kills everyone you know and turns you into a vampire because that’s what bad, evil sorcerers do. I’ll address the game’s writing further into the review, but it’s far from the only problem the game has.
Vampire’s Fall: Origins has a number of major issues in its combat, balancing and overall design choices on console, and there’s a clear reason for that: It was a mobile game that was ported to PC and consoles, and it wasn’t ported particularly well. Systems that may have been acceptable as a free-to-play mobile game simply don’t work without some adjustment.
For instance, potion crafting wasn’t altered from mobile at all. There are three health potions that restore 30%, 60% and 100% health, respectively, and each of them takes a specific amount of time to craft. That’s a design that was clearly meant for mobile devices and people playing on the go, with the time still elapsing while the game is closed.
But that’s not how gamers play on console or PC. Players are actively engaged with the game, and waiting up to 40 minutes for some crafting items to finish is a poor design choice outside of mobile games. There aren’t even resources required for the crafting; it’s simply a time sink. There’s also no way to speed up the process.
Fast travel is also accessed through potions, which becomes problematic because you have a strict limit of four potion slots, with one additional slot opening through the skill tree. That means you have to weigh how many health potions, creature lures and fast travel potions you want to carry at any given time. Even more frustrating, fast travel potions take an absurd 30 minutes to craft, and you can only craft a maximum of three potions at a time with the proper unlocks.
Potion mechanics aside, the game’s turn-based combat is broken. There’s no other word for it. As you level up, skills unlock automatically, which you can further increase with attribute points. There are eight combat skills in total, and I attempted to build my first character focused around the arcane and summoning abilities.
That doesn’t work. At all.
In fact, with my second character, I found a build method so horribly overpowered that I was obliterating enemies with literally 10 times the amount of health I had, walking away from most battles at full health. There’s one way to build your character in the game that works, and it works entirely too well. By combining the “bite” skill, which regenerates health and deals significant damage, with ample focus regeneration, only the game’s strongest enemies pose a real threat.
The problem is that’s not fun. I was using a single skill for almost every attack, despite having multiple weapons and combat options at my disposal. Additionally, combat is set up so that every third turn is a “combo” turn. That boosts your focus regeneration (mana) and allows you to make as many attacks in one go as your mana pool allows. Again, this results in you being able to massacre enemies far stronger than you are with almost no challenge.
With all of that said, I feel the need to emphasize that there’s a foundation here for a solid combat system, but it doesn’t feel at all like anyone bothered to balance it. These seem like obvious, borderline exploits that could have and should have been checked.
The way the game dishes out levels on an almost constant basis is also far too generous as well. I found myself gaining a level every few minutes, and the number of skill points that go along with it made combat far too easy, to the point that I was pressing a button sequence on repeat without paying any attention, knowing the enemy would be dead within seconds. Again, balancing in this area potentially makes this a totally different assessment and review.
Graphically, Vampire’s Fall: Origins is a mixed bag. Static images, especially the backgrounds during combat, creature and character design all look great, but animations fall short. Characters move with almost ragdoll-like motions at times, particularly the “bite” animation that sees your character lunge across the screen like Bill Goldberg hitting someone with a spear.
And then there’s the aforementioned writing. The only word I can think of is contrived. Everything seems forced, and the game’s tone has a terrible tendency to fluctuate from deadly serious to parodying itself. In one quest, you’re forced to help a group of townspeople who have been affected by a curse of stupidity by a magic rock in a nearby forest. When you go to the magic rock, it turns out, it just made the townsfolk lactose intolerant, and they were all stupid to begin with. The rock actually says that.
The audio is just okay. There’s nothing particularly good or bad about it. It works and is functional, but that’s about it. There’s no voice acting in the game.
I can’t speak to what Vampire’s Fall: Origins is like on mobile, but it’s clear that the game was never balanced for PC or consoles. The graphic on the Xbox One X’s game tile isn’t even the right resolution; it’s stretched. The groundwork for a decent RPG is here, but nothing is built upon it. Perhaps as a mobile game that is not too much of a problem, but on any other non-mobile platform, gamers really expect more from their games.
Vampire’s Fall: Origins earns 2.5 GiN Gems out of 5.