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Vampire Origins

For: iPhone

Blood is thicker than tap-tap water

Product: Vampire Origins | Developer: IceHill | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Fighting, RPG | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Vampire Origins iPhone, thumbnail 1
Given that Vampire Origins deals with the realm of the living dead, it's not surprising that the game itself feels like it's been lifted from the grave.

Appearing as an awkward twin-stick shooter, Vampire Origins is brought back from the brink by way of an alternate tap-to-shoot control scheme.

What could easily have become yet another tap-fest is a genuinely engaging, expansive experience. Part platformer, part shooter, even part point-and-click adventure Vampire Origins is a fun game worth sinking your teeth into.

New moon

Ditching the tender vampire love stories made popular by Twilight and its ilk, the emotional undercurrent here is one of hatred and revenge. As the vampire hunter Vincent, you rise from the underworld to exact vengeance against the leader Valafar for murdering your bride.

Valafar's minions are primarily zombies, which burst from the ground to gnaw at your flesh. And this is where the two control set-ups reveal their usefulness. In the default scheme, you're given one virtual analogue stick for direction and movement and a second for firing your weapon.

Frustratingly, targeting in this configuration doesn't work. The game auto-targets enemies, but all too often it gets confused and doesn't target anything at all. As a result, you're left vulnerable to attack.

Tap dancing

The game feels much more natural in tap mode. Double-tapping sends you running, while a short tap attacks the targeted enemy. With the controls out of the way, combat becomes a thrilling experience with enemies appearing all around: vampire bats dart in from the sky, the undead pop up from beneath your feet, all taken out with a tap.

Fallen enemies drop weapons, ammunition and health. You can even acquire silver bullets capable of taking out a foe with a single shot. It's all designed to give this pick-up-and-play title depth.

Boss battles do just that with intense one-on-one battles that have you mimicking gestures on the touchscreen in quick time. Though not exactly the most creative of mini-games, they provide a nice respite from the main action.

Tome raider

Yet there's more to Vampire Origins than action. Exploration is a vital component, and although the beautifully animated stages are essentially linear, there's much to do within the game's dank alleys and golden chambers.

Taking a leaf out of the point-and-click genre, it's possible to scan each map for hidden gems. Holding a finger down to the screen and dragging it around toggles a magnifying glass that brings the small details into focus.

While the story – conveyed in comic-strip style animations – is essentially hokum, Vampire Origins feeds on folklore rather than saps it. Of course, it's gameplay that counts and the quality combination of tap-action and adventure is enthralling.

Just avoid the analogue sticks, as they're certain to make your blood boil.
Vampire Origins
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 7 April 2010
With the right control setting, Vampire Origins is an exciting adventure that has the flavour of vampire folklore without getting bogged down in its mythos
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