It's dark, raining, and all I'm missing are my shades.
You play a destitute wandering vampyre who agrees to help rid a village of a raiding specpyre family. The game features multiple weapons, semi-destructible environments, retro inspired sound effects and graphics, an industrial music sound track, and vampyres that turn into spectres and feed on souls!
Rijn the Specpyre in...Manor of the Damned just rolls right off the tongue doesn’t it? The name itself intrigues you to want to play it. This was developed by The Hideout and is their first game! You start off as a vampyre on a rainy dock, so with no further explanation I journeyed forward towards the town! [READER NOTE: Vampyre is just another way of spelling vampire.] When you reach the town you will find this old man who knows the grounds of the manor and decides to help you along your path.
The environment is beautiful. I love the little details too; like I took a break while outside and noticed how the ground texture was moving in accordance with how the wind was blowing. However, it is not easy to navigate outside because it is hard to distinguish between walk-able and unwalk-able areas. The music selection is not too varied. I’d have to guesstimate around 4-5 songs and just 1 boss song in the game. Even though the track is limited, it is actually pretty good. It matches the scenery fairly well but being on a constant loop it can get annoying in the long run.
There are many Zelda-like elements in the game, such as puzzle solving, secret rooms, and you can only move in 4 directions. There are a couple unique features though, like when you kill an enemy you gain a little bit of health back; however, you’ll want to be careful because if the enemy dies from fire then you won’t get the small hp bonus. Another unique feature is the ability to dual wield, however you can only use one weapon or the other at a time. You press LCTRL for one weapon and SPACE for the other and SHIFT will allow you to change out your weapons. In some cases the weapons combine; for instance if you are holding a lit torch and a crossbow then you can shoot lit arrows on your crossbow. During your journey you will come across giant crystals - these act as save spots. Most of these are hidden so be sure to look around - you’ll want to save often.
Throughout the game you stumble across new weaponry and these colored books. Each book has a short and gruesome story about the upcoming boss. I personally would have liked the music dimmed and for someone to narrate this wall of text, but they are still interesting stories regardless. Also, this will be the only time that you will get to read the story. There is no way to look back at past books collected; Similarly, when you collect a new weapon it will give you the name of that weapon right there but never again will you see the name, and plus what makes it worse is that there are no item descriptions! Why is that a big deal? Well I’ll come back to that in a minute. In total there are 6 weapons and 4 books that you finish with.
The challenge in the game mostly comes from the controls because enemies are able to move around the screen freely; bosses really take advantage of this ability. The first boss you encounter literally does circles around you while throwing books! More aggravation came when I saw that there are no boss health bars, so there is no way to tell if fire arrows do more damage than if you were to shank him with your sword. After 20 tries at least I finally beat this guy with literally 1 health to spare and when you beat him he rewards you with the White Ring. So naturally I go to equip it to see what it does and the next thing I know is that I’m dead! Through trial and error I found out that the ring makes you impervious to enemies and allows you to walk over water, but will slowly drain your health while under its effects. If ghosts are near you then they are the only ones who can attack you during this phase. The last weapon you get is the child’s blood. That took me a while to figure out as well, but when I equipped that with my sword I was able to slay the ghosts that wander around. Other than using it to open a couple doors here and there, you just make a blood-spilling action when you use it which does nothing.
I want to discuss the boss battles real quick. The first 2 bosses gave me hell; the first one especially. The last 2 bosses I was able to defeat on my first attempt. I don’t know if the game got easier or if I just happened to get better, but it just didn’t feel right.
Overall this game was fun to play. Not a very long game however; just taking me under 2 ½ hours of game time to finish. I know it is an inexpensive game, but I feel that if a game is short then there has to be a certain level of replay value on there. There are a couple of things that I felt the game was missing: like cut scenes, a map system, and a basic item description for your weapons. Get the game for $5.99 or try the demo! Available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Great job for a first release!