Coming up to Halloween and the end of the year, there is an abundance of vampires and RPGs. For a person with limited time, one is as scary as the other. Luckily, with Vampire’s Fall: Origins that scare comes with an interesting world, intriguing characters and some nice, synergistic combat. Unfortunately, that combat and world can only drive you so far as you finish your 20th fetch quest. Vampire’s Fall: Origins has a lot to love but maybe a little too much to really make a great experience.
The story is simple but satisfying, seeing you, a peaceful resident of “Vamp’Ire”, train to fight the oncoming onslaught of the “Witchmaster”. This works as a short tutorial having you learn the ropes of combat and traversal only to, inevitably, get slaughtered mercilessly by the Witchmaster in one-to-one combat. Normally a story would end here but your vampiric lineage saves you from death, only to wake up in the smouldering remains of your home city with nothing but the choice to feed. Will you choose the human or the rat beside it?
Before this all happens, you are given a few key choices. You can customise your character, change your bloodline and pick your weapon of choice. Your bloodline gives a small but notable change to the game, offering advanced experience growth, more gold, and the like. This is essentially where the roleplaying comes in. In both a spin on traditional RPGs and vampire titles, you are a vampire from a burned down village seeking vengeance… or perhaps eternal power.
Traversal in Vampire’s Fall: Origins works similarly to a Diablo, and even takes a little from its aesthetic. Everything is dark and decayed with satanic-style text. The world feels fundamentally hopeless and you are there to imbue it with a little spirit. There is a wider map you walk through and basically no tunnels or rooms to go in; everywhere your character goes can be seen basically from the map. Instead of placing your character into buildings and caves, they trigger an event of sorts that activates combat.
Combat and combat encounters feel very much like something from an early Final Fantasy or Pokemon. You travel through the world and randomly get attacked by monsters. Fighting them requires choosing from one of three categories: “Control”; “Instinct”; “Weapons”. Control and Instinct give you the choice of using focus to action special abilities like huge attacks and debuffs, where Weapons are an easy way to get damage in but at a lower rate. Every three turns, you can do as much damage as you are capable of with your current focus. This means you could prioritise not using focus to get one big hit in. After a few fights, you level up and realise the build ahead of you. Leveling up lets you pick from one of three systems to sink points into base stat upgrades, and another to make one ability stronger. This allows you to shape your build slowly over the time.
This slow approach to the game is prevalent through every moment. The mission and level structure is very grind-heavy. Without the use of a consistent fast travel and thanks to some long winded missions, you can spend ten minutes at a time walking from one destination to another, all just in order to complete simple A to B missions. Unfortunately every quest is like this, including the main one. From the very start of Vampire’s Fall: Origins right up until the end of the game, you will walk forward, beat a monster, and then keep walking. This has diminishing returns that set in after just a few hours. The general grind for gear and levels might keep you going for a while, but after that, by the time you finish the campaign, you will likely not want to return again. This is a shame as there are some very satisfying systems in place, like different paths and some really interesting monsters. It seems that whilst the world-building and characters are pretty good, mission design is very lacking.
Vampire’s Fall: Origins on Xbox One is a rather deceptive game. Like the vampire itself, Vampire’s Fall: Origins is dark and brutal, but it also outstays its welcome pretty quickly. The bloated missions and long travel system often end in you holding the controller with one hand, moving a character until they interact with something, and then moving them all the way back again. Whilst there is a fast travel system, it’s very limited in use and ends up teasing what a good travel system could do rather than giving any support for your ventures. I had a good amount of fun with Vampire’s Fall, but its flaws are as obvious as it good parts and, for some, that might be too much.