It’s hard not to snicker when you see the goofy little character models here, especially once you realize the story is 100% serious. It’s like watching a Lego production of Macbeth.
Kind of charming, though. Turns out, your lil’ Lego-looking guy is a real badass. You’re a legendary vampire hunter who was bitten during some kind of huge human-vampire war, and now you’re trying to take down their king before you turn into one of them.
In order to do that, you can plan on about half exploration/platforming–not jumping, but avoiding traps, navigating moving platforms, opening hidden passages, that kind of stuff–and half fighting. They describe the combat as “tactical,” which seems like a stretch to me. Maybe it’s true in the technical sense that you could spin pretty much any course of action as a “tactic.”
Well, here, you be the judge. This was my basic gameplan:
The best thing to do is line-of-sight pull enemies one by one. Then when they chase you around a corner you just get in their face and attack as fast as you can, since they can’t counterattack with you wailing on them. That’s Plan A.
As for Plan B, there are a lot of pits everywhere, and usually the enemies are insta-killed if you push them into one. At some point you get an item that can aoe stun. That’s pretty good on its own, but there’s also another item that can aoe knockback. You see where I’m going with this. When that works, it’s comedy hour.
Or else (Plan C) just hang way back and plink away at them with fireballs.
I guess those are all tactics, but they’re not very satisfying ones. Well, knocking guys into pits was pretty hilarious when it worked, I have to say. That was probably the best part.
What did they expect, though? These enemies hit like a truck and your special attacks don’t have much punch. If you get swarmed by three or more guys you’re in deep trouble. That’s when the real-time tactical combat usually devolves into a chaotic melee while you run around and pray for your cooldowns to recharge.
They never seem to give you quite the right tools to deal comfortably with scenarios like that, and a result I always felt like I was incentivized to game the system rather than play the game in-character. It’s not terrible, but going out of their way to call it “tactical” is like some twiggy guy walking around flexing in a tank top. It just draws attention to the shortcomings.
The overall pacing is what saves the day here. It may not be perfect, but at least they keep things moving along pretty well. Like I said, it’s about 50-50 platforming/fighting. The platforming parts were surprisingly fun for a game like this. There’s this one section, for example, where you have to align a bunch of light beams all around this huge zone. It’s pretty intricate with all the various obstacles, yet manages not to be annoying, which was an impressive feat. They’re a little thin on variety, probably due to limited resources, but they mix things up enough that you don’t feel like you’re ever doing the same thing for too long at a stretch.
In the end this is another one of those games where nothing in particular really stands out, but altogether it does manage to be a bit more than the sum of its parts. They were mostly on the right track, and with a bigger budget I think it could have been a lot more that it is.
I’m still glad I bought it on sale, though.