I’ll admit that before Vampire’s Fall: Origins was announced for the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, I’d never heard of it – not that I’m all that surprised. It started as a mobile game, and I’ve never had much of an attention span for them.
I love the vampire genre though – minus the sparkle-in-the-sun kind – so the title on its own was enough to entice me. I love RPGs too, so for me, a vampire RPG seemed like a match made in Heaven, or Hell if we’re staying true to the genre.
Vampire’s Fall: Origins is a dark, atmospheric 2D open-world vampire RPG developed by Early Morning Studios. Normally, I’d criticise the lack of colour, but in this case, it fits the genre well. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a cutesy vampire game full of sunshine and rainbows. There’s not really a lot else to say about the graphics for this game apart from the fact that they’ve been upscaled from the mobile version – an undocked Switch runs the game at 720p/30fps, while a docked Switch runs at 1080p/30fps. I especially liked that your weapons, armour and other accessories can all be seen on the combat screen too, even if this isn’t the case when you’re walking across the map. Often with indie games (and even some AAA games), weapons and armour purely affect your stats with no aesthetic impact. If I get some badass armour, I want to be able to see myself in it.
Onto the game itself though; your journey starts in the village of Vamp’Ire – the perfect birthplace for a vampire. When rumours of a dark magic wielder begin to spread across the land, the village of Vamp’Ire starts to rally their forces to defend the village. When this dark magic user arrives at the village, he demands the village send out their best warrior, which, of course, is you. He promises to leave Vamp’Ire alone should you defeat him in battle. The battle is not one you can win though, and when you awaken later, you find that not only are you the only survivor, but you are also uncontrollably thirsty.
And it’s a thirst that can only be sated by one thing, of course – blood.
Thus begins your journey to take revenge on the being who destroyed your home and everyone you know – a somewhat overused trope deployed by RPGs, but who doesn’t love a revenge plot?
In a game called Vampire’s Fall: Origins, the vampire lore and elements are, without a doubt, one of the most important aspects of the game. During character creation, you must choose from four human lineages, which I assume will become the foundation of your vampire clan. These are:
- Nosferatu – “The Nosferatu family are known for their power and cruelty. They take pride in being feared and will destroy anyone that threatens them.”
- Magistravs – “The Magistravs are known for magic and neutrality. They tend to themselves, avoid conflict and do everything they can to advance their knowledge of the magical arts.”
- Ranjeni – “The Ranjeni family are masters of deception. In battle they often pretend to be wounded before attacking with full force. Results matter, the truth doesn’t.”
- Equides – “The Equides consider the world to be evil. Only with compassion and kindness can humans tip the scales back into favour of the good and purge the evils of the world.”
Each lineage comes with a different character bonus, but aside from that, lineage doesn’t seem to affect gameplay.
There could definitely have been more to identify Vampire’s Fall: Origins as just that – a vampire game. There were times I forgot I was playing a vampire RPG until a random hunter came along shouting, “Die vampire, die!” or words to that effect. The game brief says this: “Will you wreak havoc in the land or be the hero people are longing for?”, so it would have been nice to have a little more freedom to explore this – to really be able to choose where you fall on the morality scale like in Vampyr.
That being said, vampire abilities were implemented nicely into combat with abilities such as Bite, Bat Swarm and Conjure rather than your traditional RPG magic abilities.
I’ve already mentioned how Vampire’s Fall: Origins differs from that of a traditional RPG with the addition of vampiric elements, but for the most part, it follows the usual structure with levelling up and unlocking abilities. Combat takes the form of side-on turn-based action, with different weapons allowing for different attacks. There are three types of attacks – control, instinct and weapons. Weapon attacks are self-explanatory, but control and instinct are where your vampire abilities come into play – your Bite, Bat Swarm and Conjure. Anything other than your basic weapon attacks eat up your focus, which is essentially the same as the MP you get in most RPGs. A nice little addition to combat is the ability to queue up attacks after about three turns so you can really do some damage. Unfortunately, outside the Bite ability that restores some health, there is no ability to heal during combat, which makes the tougher bosses more of a challenge. This struck me as strange as you can craft potions but can only use them outside of combat, which isn’t particularly helpful. You don’t lose progress if you die though, you respawn at the last town you visited, though it costs you a couple of coins.
In terms of content, there are plenty of side quests. Admittedly, some of these can get a little repetitive, but it gives you plenty to do even if some aren’t particularly memorable. I’m one of those people who will completely ignore the main questline in favour of pursuing every side quest in sight – no doubt why it always takes me so long to finish RPGs, so I was filled with joy whenever I came across one of those golden exclamation points. If nothing else, they serve as a way to level up, and you don’t need to complete them all to be able to beat the game. The main bosses aren’t too challenging, but there are some hidden bosses that will give you a run for your money, which is perfect for both casual gamers as well as those who want to get a little bit more out of the game.
Unfortunately, I found Vampire’s Fall: Origins to be a little laggy at times – admittedly not enough to hinder my enjoyment of the game, but there were a few times the game crashed entirely. Vampire’s Fall: Origins relies on auto-saves though, with no option to manually save, so your game is always up to date, meaning that on the few occasions my game did crash, I didn’t lose any progress. Crashes are never ideal, but considering I’ve put more than thirty hours into this game and have only experienced maybe two or three crashes, it wasn’t something that took too much away from something that is otherwise a pretty solid game.
Vampire’s Fall: Origins isn’t a game that takes itself too seriously but manages to find the balance between subtle humour and trying too hard. The map, while not to the extent of a game like, say, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is pretty vast, particularly for a title that started as a mobile game. I actually got to where I thought must be the end of the game, only to find that there was a whole new map for me to explore. Bearing in mind the retail price of £8.99 for the Switch and £10.70 for Xbox One, you get a lot of content for your money, and there is the potential for more content to be added. The mobile version boasts PvP and frequent updates, the latest of which introduced familiars to the game, so it would be nice to see some of these features make their way to the console version in the future. I mentioned earlier that there could have been more done to make it stand out as a vampire RPG, but Vampire’s Fall: Origins is still a nice little RPG with a lot to offer. The good amount of content and engaging main storyline make it an enjoyable game overall, especially for those who enjoy the genre, so it’s well worth checking out.
Developer: Early Morning Studio
Publisher: Early Morning Studio
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Release Date: 17th September 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Vampire’s Fall: Origins was provided by the publisher.