Vampires are popular again. If they’re not popping up on the WB Network and enticing teenagers, they’re making a fuss over love and loyalty in the Twilight flicks. They’re also getting a fair amount of attention in video games, as you go hunting for one in City Interactive’s Nintendo DS release Vampire Moon: The Mystery of the Hidden Sun. Unfortunately, like most vampires, this game sucks something fierce.
You are a young reporter, Emily Davis, sent to Transylvania to investigate a solar eclipse that’s been taking place for longer than expected. It seems kind of odd to have the land covered in darkness for so long, unless there’s a vampire – in this case, Dracula – afoot. But, instead of making the game into an intriguing survival horror adventure, Vampire Moon merely drags along as a strategy/puzzle game.
Part of the time, you’ll be scavenging through static screens screens, looking for hidden objects so you can continue your adventure. It’d be great if the items actually meant something meaningful in your search for the truth, but most of the time they’re objects that don’t serve any purpose. For instance, why would we care about looking for a peach pit? And what concern do we have about a diamond-shaped tree mark if it doesn’t bear any importance to Dracula?
What’s more, due to the small size of the DS touch screen (and this includes the DSi XL’s), it’s a pain finding half of these items. Once you do manage to get to a more interactive puzzle, it’s usually something of the mind boggling variety, like choosing the right item to get further ahead or playing a quick mini-game or two. That’sabout the extent of the game. There are no exciting sequences here, nor any genuine shocks to make you feel like you’re engaged in a vampire drama. It’s right there on the same level of tedium as the Twilight films, even with the presence of light-skinned Edward.
The game fails just as much in the story department. There’s nothing in particular here to keep you going, no motivation of any kind. The puzzles themselves are punishment enough, but to have no genuine reward for completing them simply makes no sense. It’s like getting to the bottom of a mystery and finding the most obvious of answers. Because of that, the game doesn’t offer any kind of replay value. Once you’re done, you’ll stick a stake in it and move on.
The only highlights that come with Vampire Moon are the visuals. While the static screens aren’t the greatest I’ve seen, they do paint a dark, decadent world for you to gaze upon. It reminded me of the old Francis Ford Coppola Dracula flick, with its old-school bravado and barely lit surroundings. Too bad City Interactive didn’t put forth the effort to make it come alive. The audio doesn’t fare that much better, between music that tries (and fails) to live up to the horror standard and some of the worst sound effects put into a Nintendo DS game. Seriously, we know that’s a guy trying to sound like a bird. Couldn’t City afford a real bird?
Don’t let Vampire Moon’s budget price entice you. At the end of the day, this bogged-down adventure game lacks the kind of bite a good vampire tale needs.