Developer: Mayhem Studios
You might have thought that after five hundred years, their popularity might be starting to wane. But the truth is, Vampires have never been more popular. You can’t even walk into your local town centre nowadays without Edward Cullen’s face jumping out at you at least a dozen times as it circulates the high street on the side of buses. Or switch on the TV without some reference to True Blood or Underworld or - fresh out of the Hollywood recycling machine – some new vampire flick which leaves everyone over the age of about thirteen with a profound sense of déjà-vu.
It’s easy to think therefore, that a game like Vampire Hunters could just jump on the bandwagon and, like Twilight’s Bella, simply piggyback its way through the woods on the back of Edward Cullen and cash in on the public’s incessant infatuation with pasty-faced-bloodsuckers. But the sad truth is that even though vampires have made this huge come-back to the mainstream, the sheer number of problems which plague the gameplay of Vampire Hunters will leave even the most tolerant gamer baying for the blood of those Mayhem Studio developers.
But to be fair, your expectations for Vampire Hunters are not exactly high after you consider the fact that Mayhem – a fairly obscure developer - didn’t have some ludicrously obscene budget to blow, or an army of diligent developers to rely upon, compared to some other high profile studio. But even so, for around £14, you at least expect to be getting hold of a game that works. And although we can all turn a blind eye to the odd technical error, the sheer number of faults with Vampire Hunters is inexcusable. Indeed, whoever was responsible for the quality control on this one deserves a good clip round the ear.
Traversing the dark, dingy, and frankly dull levels of VH quickly takes its toll on your sanity. Not only does your character move at such a horrendously slow pace that it feels like you're having one of those nightmares where you’re trying to run but your limbs have became heavy and numb, you’ll often find yourself snared by pieces of scenery, or unable to initiate a conversation with a plot essential character. Sometimes you’ll even spend what seems like an eternity searching for some key item only to realise – after you’ve meticulously scoured every scare inch of pixel – that it’s actually invisible.
On top of this, the game constantly makes you feel boxed in. There’s no freedom, no open areas to explore, and although the graphics are not actually that bad, the levels are boring. Why does the whole thing have to take place in some dirty, deserted dock? Why are you just running around in loading areas with rusty crates and in and out of empty cargo ships? It’s difficult not to be struck by a slight similarity between Vampire Hunters and Hitman, but it’s a shame the Mayhem couldn’t take more from the latter than just a 3rd person view of a bald bloke running round picking up items. It would be great if, like in Hitman, there were some more urban areas to explore, and the game managed to give you a sense of some broader world beyond the tiny spaces in which you find yourself confined.
Unfortunately however, the list of grievances just goes on. The camera angles are infuriatingly awkward; the script is poor and seems strangely out of place. The Final Fantasy-style-battle-sequences are maddeningly difficult, although you are treated to a fair number of items which allow you to keep replenishing your health. In fact, about the only thing which is good about Vampire Hunters is the fact it makes very few demands on your PC. The music is also appropriately broody and menacing. But in the end, it’s nowhere near capable of drowning out the catalogue of horrors which pester this title with unrelenting consistence. If you do end up paying £14 to download, it's likely that Vampire Hunters will, after the first few goes at least, end up taking a long - probably eternal - slumber on your desktop.