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Vlad The Impaler (Video Game)

Cover art:

reviews/vlad-the-impaler-s.jpg

Vlad The Impaler (Video Game)Available For PC (reviewed) and MAC

Developed by Section Studios

Cost $9.99 on Steam


Picture trying something for the first time and becoming instantly addicted. But then the more you went back to it the less fun it became. This is a syndrome mimicked with ninja-like precision in the new Section Studios game, Vlad The Impaler. It was a joyride the first time around, but that feeling won’t last through the many attempts it forces on you. What started as fun turned into tireless repetition of just feeding your habit.

At first, Vlad The Impaler is quite intriguing. It’s a text based game that is a billed as being a choose your own adventure experience. Players find themselves sent to Istanbul by “V“ and must investigate a curse over the city. At least I think it’s a curse, the game is never really 100% clear on why you’re there.

The bare bones of gameplay comes down to choosing a path and then making choices based on what occurs. These choices will then effect your stats and attributes. This portion of the game is quite addictive, as you will sweat over decisions like following a man’s advice to leave, or enter the door guarded by a demon statue. An increase to intelligence and magic hanging in the balance. The tried and true, quest to improve stats technique is still as addictive and fun as ever.

With a title like Vlad The Impaler, it implies that this will focus on a more accurate and historical take on the person that was the inspiration for Dracula. But it was a welcome surprise to find the game heavily features vampires, and layers on werewolves and insane blood cults for good measure.

Your introduction to Istanbul is a gore filled how do you do? You enter the gate and see a dead woman, “her heart ripped out and used to paint a tall, bloody ’15 days’ on the wall behind her.” It sets a chilling tone right away and is just a teaser for the splatter house of gore found within this game.

There is so much here for the horror fan. People get decapitated, half eaten brains spill out of corpses, you even discover priests eating children. Extra care was taken to ensure that this was a truly horrific experience. An effort that was surely appreciated. What is infinitely interesting about this game is the fact that it is text based. Aside from inspiring nostalgia in the 30 and over crowd, it provides a different take on horror. While being shown a man with his hand chopped off would inspire cries of either “ew“ or “disgusting“ or “awesome“, reading it provides a completely different sensation.

Choosing to provide their horror by text is much more bone chilling and left a terrible sensation in my spine, that I have not felt since the first time I watched The Exorcist. It wasn’t long before I could swear I felt eyes on me, and was twisting in quick glances over my shoulder to make sure I was alone. All of your actions and the story build to a return to Castle Dracula to confront Vlad. The battle is very difficult and you’ve got a virgin’s chance in a whorehouse that you will beat it on the first attempt. This is where the game falters. After you die, your save file is erased and you are forced to start over from the beginning.This is when the repetition occurs and the same quests start popping up over and over again as you half ass your way through the game only to get to where you were before.

It’s a rare occurrence someone will read the same book twice, and thus, chances are, you will not read the same quest the second time. This causes the player to skim through the game during the repetitive attempts to reach the final boss battle. As a result, Vlad The Impaler, much like crack addiction, starts getting very old very quick. Forcing repetition on the player is one of the worst ways to increase game length and is more often than not, the sign of a band game. Is this a bad game? Not entirely, but it’s pretty freaking close.

The major aspect pushed by developers of Vlad The Impaler was its art, that they say is, “reminiscent of a graphic novel.” Well in response to that, in my left hand I hold the classic use of negative space that is Sin City, in my right hand I hold the brilliant minimalism of Batman: The Long Halloween. But what I see on my computer screen are the pencil sketches found in Vlad The Impaler. The art in this game is in no way close to the same class as a graphic novel. While playing the game I found missing words and missing slides. It’s a text game, you think someone would have proofread it. It was so bad I even emailed the developer to ask if this game was a beta test…it wasn’t. There has been an update since launch, so hopefully these errors were corrected.

But the big question, should you play Vlad The Impaler? There is something there for the horror fan as this game will send chills down your spine. But it falters in its gaming aspect. It becomes so repetitive that it will soon be relegated to the status of uninteresting timewaster, as you skim through quests in order to rush to a final battle with Vlad. The thing is, a time waster should not cost $9.99. Why bother when Minesweeper is free?

2 1/2 out of 5

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Scott Dell