by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 8th June, 2018
When it comes to vampires, they aren't nearly as popular as zombies at least when it comes to video games. While the dumb, rotting undead are featured in hundreds (we aren't sure but this is probably true, especially if we count numerous mobile titles) of titles vampires, also undead but generally highly intelligent and perfectly aware of the world around them, could be found in maybe a couple of dozens of titles.
The good thing is that, unlike zombies who are exclusively cannon fodder or the part of the background story and are usually found on the other side of the line waiting to be slaughtered, vampires can play a role of the game's main playing characters. Sure, there are shown as bad guys in most titles, but the fact that you can play as a vampire, play as a vampire in some pretty good games is very cool.
But the problem is that even during the vampire craze of the late 00s when we got movies like Twilight (even though the movie is absolute crap, it did make vampires popular again) and TV shows like True Blood, video game industry was deaf to the sudden popularity bloodsuckers got and we didn't get any new and cool vampire games sans Castlevania: Lords of Shadow that got out in 2010.
The vampire craze ended, the zombie games stayed alive and well and in ever larger numbers but vampires didn't get games they definitely deserved staring in. Fortunately, Dotnod, a studio behind the excellent Life is Strange (and its sequel that isn't as excellent as the original but still worth checking out) decided that vampires should finally get a new game where they are stars of the show.
We got Vampyr, a game that divided critics but it looks like it will become a cult classic because of its deep and interesting story and excellent RPG elements, like Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines eventually become. Yup, we finally have a vampire RPG game that's actually good and fun to play. And if you want to check out some other vampire-themed games after playing Vampyr, check out our list of best vampire-themed games of all times. Enjoy.
Bloodrayne was one of the most anticipating titles in 2002 and once the game got out it didn't really disappoint anyone, but it did perform less than expected. Nevertheless, the game did get mostly positive reviews and it did get a solid fan base.
Bloodrayne follows Rayne, who is a dhampir (half vampire-half human) allowing her to walk on daylight and be more powerful than an average vampire, in search of her vampire father who killed her mother and slain her family. The game starts with a prologue set in the U.S but quickly becomes a Nazi-hunting game with Rayne visiting a couple of Nazi bases, one in Argentina and one in Germany.
The action is fast-paced and brutal, with Rayne's arm-mounted double blades used as a main weapon. She is super-fast, quite agile and extremely violent and the game is filled with blood and gore. Rayne can heal herself by jumping on dying enemies and drinking their blood and she also can use other weapons such as grenades that can deal lots of damage to enemies. The game is based around relatively long levels that end with boss fights along with many interesting environmental puzzles in the vein of Prince of Persia. The game was also known for being one of the first titles to incorporate bullet time, after Max Payne popularized this highly popular gameplay element. We have to say that bullet time in combination with Rayne's extreme agility made battles brutal, bloody, and extremely enjoyable. Most bosses are high ranking officers of the Third Reich, and some of them are vampires. The game is a solid action adventure with great combat but with the relatively weak story.
The sequel that came out in 2004 continued the story about Rayne and was set in modern times. The story got a bit better but the combat stayed as bloody and fast-paced as in the original title. The sequel isn't as good as the original game but in the world where vampire-themed games are few and far between it could be a nice pastime, especially if you like both vampires and action adventures.
Legacy of Kain probably is the best and most known video game series that revolves around vampires, and Soul Reaver games are probably the best parts of the series. Instead of playing as Kain, the antihero vampire, star of most Legacy of Kain games, you play as Raziel, a former lieutenant of Kain's army who got killed by his master and later resurrected by the Elder God as a wraith, with the sole purpose of finding and killing his former master.
The game is a typical action adventure with third person view and hacks and slash combat. It featured exemplary visuals and was one of the best looking games of the generation. On top of all that, Soul Reaver also featured deep and engrossing story that drew players to the game and made them finish it in one breath. The combat was excellent and each level could be seen as two since the game features two realms - material and spectral - with the player being able to seamlessly cross from one to another and vice versa. Music and audio also were top-notch making Soul Reaver one of the best titles of the original PlayStation era. The main problem with the game was its unsatisfactory ending that left players with many unanswered questions.
Luckily, the story of the sequel did have many answers and it was on par with the original, which was a huge accomplishment. Soul Reaver 2 also had amazing soundtrack and voice acting with fantastic cut scenes but the game's problems were dull and rehashed gameplay that suffered from the lack of innovation in comparison to the first game. Nevertheless, Soul Reaver 2 is an excellent game that excellently closes down the story of the first game. A definite recommendation.
Okay, where do we start with this one? Should we talk about its roots in the tabletop role-playing game called Vampire: The Masquerade, the best tabletop vampire-themed game of all times? Should we talk about the game's poor, poor sales that lead to its developers, Troika Games, closing down just a year after the game was published? Should we talk about how critics bashed the game because of its quirky technical problems while praising its story, world, and choices? Or should we talk about the game becoming a cult classic, its fans making numerous patches that made the game polished and finally giving players the experience they should've received when the game came out?
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is an amazing RPG. You can pick between seven vampire clans, and each of them features different playing style, focusing on different skills and having different choices to make and different view of the world. Once you create your character you are thrown in a dark version of Los Angeles, filled with demons, werewolves, other vampires, and humans. You can explore parts of the city and while the game doesn't offer a truly open world, the game world is pretty big, varied and filled with different characters and interesting quests.
The story is amazingly written, tackling many adult themes and featuring an intriguing plot and commendably written dialogues and while it has its downsides, it is one of the better stories in any RPG game. The game also featured excellent visuals (for the time) and amazing voiceover. The sheer number of different choices, the huge variety of ways other characters could react to your different decisions, and the game's four different endings are perfect for anyone who likes games with huge replay value.
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines carried its share of problems with the biggest ones being many bugs that made the game not unplayable but broken in many places. AI was horrendous; there were many quest-related bugs and other types of technical problems. Luckily, the game got patched years after its release and is now completely cleaned of bugs. On the other hand, the combat was and still one of the game's weakest parts and no amount of patches can fix that problem. But, if you like vampires and if you put conversations, choices, and quality quests in RPGs in front of the combat, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is a game you simply cannot miss.
If you're looking for a vampire-themed action RPG (hack and slash RPG experience similar to Diablo) then look no further than The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. The game is an excellent action RPG filled with otherworldly enemies, cool, dark, and uber gothic locations, and a wide variety of weapons to use.
The game's dark and gothic world is filled with many different monsters to kill, with the focus on vampires. Yup, vampires are definitely bad guys here but since there isn't an action RPG where you can play as one you can at least kill them in droves. Van Helsing, the famous monster-hunter can wield both ranged and melee weapons and he can be humorous, witty, and sometimes dead on serious, a compelling main hero that will be remembered years after you complete the game.
The combat is a blast, with many abilities that are so fun to use and a special combo system that allows Van Helsing to combine attacks into deadly and powerful blows that feature amazing graphical effects. The game also features a robust character development system, an important piece of every ARPG. Add to that an interesting an funny at times companion in the form of a ghost and lots of decisions to make (something that's rarely present in an ARPG game) and you got yourself a solid hack and slash game perfect for vampire and monster fans and all those loving a good and enjoyable action RPG.
Castlevania is, along with Legacy of Kain, the best known vampire-themed video game franchise in the whole history of gaming. The series saw lots of games that were published for most consoles and PC. Ever since the release of the first game back in 1986 Castlevania games were, and still are some of the best 2D platformers out there. The term Metroidvania, which describes 2D games that feature huge levels with many areas locked until the player don't get tolls or powers needed to unlock them, with lots of exploration and nonlinear gameplay, is portmanteau of Metroid and Castlevania, showing just how important the series is to video games industry.
But while most games from the series are Metroidvanias, there are a couple of games that work as 3D action adventures and the best of the group is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. The game was produced by Hideo Kojima and it depicts Gabriel Belmont's (who is a vampire hunter) quest to find and destroy the shady group known as Lords of Shadow. The story is more than solid and on par with other Castlevania titles with the game being one of the most anticipated titles of 2010.
When it came out critics praised the game, loving its huge size, many different levels, polished graphics, and enthralling combat that mixed best parts of games such as God of War, Bayonetta, and Devil May Cry, creating a superb mix that offered some of the best combat gameplay ever seen in an action adventure. Add to that excellent graphics and sound along with a compelling soundtrack and you have one hell of a vampire-themed action adventure. Yes, vampires are bad guys in this one but you simply have to play it, it's that good.
While Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was an amazing action adventure and one of the best games of the whole franchise, not all fans liked the new 3D setting featured in the game. If you want to taste the old-school taste of Castlevania, the best game to play is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The game came out in 1997 and is considered by many to be the best game of the whole series. It is a classic 2D platformer with classic gameplay elements, huge world to explore, excellent combat and amazing visuals (for the time).
The story follows Dracula's son (Dracula is the main antagonist in Castlevania games and usually the final boss found in every game) Alucard, who is dhampir like Rayne. He is on a quest to find Dracula and to defeat it once and for all. The game features a huge number of rooms to explore, and its non-linear gameplay was praised by both critics and gamers because it gave the game immense replay value. You could finish the game half a dozen times and still have lots of secrets to uncover because the castle was really big and filled with secret areas.
The game also featured lots of role-playing elements that only made it better and more complex, but in the best way possible. Overall, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is considered as one of the best video games of all times. It mixed platforming and RPG elements with complex combat and phenomenal story, it had excellent music and a huge world to explore, and it excelled in every single part. Find it and play it, and then play it again.
Darkwatch is one of those hidden gems that are known only to hardcore gamers who know everything about every game. It came out in 2005 for the original Xbox and PS2 and it could become a sleeper hit of that year. Critics and gamers loved it and it featured a highly original setting and nice, Halo-like first-person combat. But, somehow, the game had poor sales and while Darkwatch was planned as the first title of the series, developers scrapped the project and we never see the sequel.
The game follows Jericho Cross, a cowboy from Wild West who got turned into a vampire and who now wants to find and kill those responsible. The game features unique power system where the player would make choices through the game that would grant new powers, depending on the choices. Aside from affecting the player's powers, these choices also determined the player's morale, but ultimately not affect the ending.
The game features explosive combat, excellent multiplayer and solid visuals. If you want to play as a badass vampire from the horror version of Wild West, try finding this one and give it a go. It isn't perfect, and the story could be better, but it is one of the best vampire FPS games out there. Yes, there weren't many of them, but this one is definitely worth playing, even today.
And finally, we have the most recent title on this list, Vampyr. The game was in the news for years and for a good reason. As we mentioned at the beginning, there aren't many vampire games, and there are even fewer games that let you play as a vampire. And this one gives you cool powers and many choices to make, forging your own destiny and picking either light or dark side. The game was in development for a long time but it finally came out a couple of days ago and if you're a true RPG fan, you won't be disappointed.
You play as Jonathan E. Reid, a hero of the Great War and a known surgeon who came back to England as a vampire only to discover that London is decimated by the Spanish flu epidemic. The story is excellent and the game features many unique gameplay elements. The city is divided into districts and each district shows the attitude its residents have toward you. If you kill people and act as an aggressive monster, a district will become hostile, filled with enemies and without people in it, making quests found in these districts hard to finish and making the game harder. You can build positive relationships with people in a district, making it more open and with fewer enemies, making quests easier and enabling the good doctor to converse with the people, allowing him to solve quests in a non-violent way.
There are lots of different skills to unlock and upgrade and the game shines in the story department. There are many different choices to make and all of them affect the game in one way or another. The combat is where the game stumbles, and while it isn't flat out broken, combat is the weakest part of Vampyr. Fortunately, the game also features excellent graphics that will please even the most demanding gamers. Overall, similar to Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, Vampyr is a great game for those who like original quests, excellent story, intelligent writing and well-written characters and who play RPGs for the overall experience and not because of the excellent combat. Despite its flaws, Vampyr is a quite good RPG game and one of the best choices when it comes to vampire-themed video games.