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April 10, 2011

1

iPad – A Vampire Romance: Paris Stories Review

by Master Pillow

Since I have been on a hidden object game kick lately I decided to rummage around some of those game apps I bought which were on sale at the time but never gotten around to playing.  A Vampire Romance – Paris Stories was one of those “gems” but after finishing it the only thing I wanted to do was throw a brick at developer Anuman’s office window as this was one of the most frustratingly annoying experiences I have ever had playing my iPhone or iPad.  To put it bluntly, getting a swift kick to the groin is more enjoyable than wading through two hours of utter boredom brought about by inane gameplay coupled by an abysmal narrative.

Having not played an original Anuman developed game in a while I have been “spoiled” by finishing three of their recent Extended Editions that while still decidedly mediocre run rings around their previous iterations.  Unfortunately, A Vampire Romance – Paris Stories has not been updated to their extended edition line and boy does it show how incredibly bad game design can cause excess eye strain and plain old frustration that will test the patience of an elephant.

In yet another clichéd story, young Leila Saraostre moves to Paris in order to attend a prestigious art school at the Louvre.  However, once in class she meets the mysterious Uriel Ruthven and the two fall in love.  Yes, this is yet another Twilight wannabe but the similarities are only skin deep.  To say the game’s narrative is appalling would be the understatement of the year as the plot amounts to nothing more than highlight moments thus our heroes meet and fall in love as quick as it takes to make a cup of coffee.  Dialogue is trite and overly dramatic yet it all sounds as if the writer was on a deadline and merely scribbled notes on a sheet of toilet paper.

Nevertheless, narrative aside, what is going to aggravate players is the total disregard for basic gameplay mechanics.  For example, this is as advertised, a hidden object game and there is no question this is true but looking past some nice location art the game does everything in its power to frustrate.  First off, there is an icon for the zoom functionality which is a basic feature of the genre yet the thing doesn’t work 95% of the time as it is disabled.  Why include this button if it is essentially broken for most of the game?  There is no explanation whatsoever yet near the end of the game it magically is enabled except the game never tells the player why or how.  This is incredibly asinine and makes the game virtually unplayable as many of the objects are miniscule.  I am not joking in this either as some items are a few pixels in size and without any zoom function the player is reduced to randomly guessing where they could be found or by wasting precious hints.

Making matters worse, the game is not only guilty of forcing the player to do much backtracking to visit each location multiple times but it makes the cardinal mistake of asking them to find the exact same items each time.  This makes the game feel like déjà vu everywhere you turn and actually detracts from the experience as the second time around the chances of finding the items is exponentially increased since most players will remember where they found them before.

The game starts off with nine hints but that is all the player is given until they run out whereby the game begins to hide gold stars in the environment with each one giving an extra hint.  Even here the game fails as there was one point where the star appeared in the upper left hand corner of the screen every single time for five or six screens straight.  Yes, I fully admit that I ran out of hints long before I hit the half way mark precisely because it was becoming too annoying to pixel hunt with a giant magnifying glass in my hand.

The game does begin in exactly the same way as A Girl in The City – Extended HD by presenting the player with a geographical map of the city, in this case being Paris while it was New York in the other title.  It then asks the player to identify certain streets, famous locations and subway lines which are clearly marked on the map.  This is an excellent way to give the player a quick overview of the cities they are about to traverse but A Vampire Romance – Paris Stories totally flubs it from here by introducing the blasted subway sequences where the player is thrown into a first person view and needs to actually use the proper subway lines to get to where they need to go.

While I do not generally mind trudging through many locations to get to where I want since it is an adventure game trope from the past, the way that it is done here is maddening as each subway looks exactly the same as the others with the exception of the signage.  Even then, it requires either excellent knowledge of the Paris subway system or constant accessing of the Paris city map in order to understand where each line is going.  It is so initially confusing and without a tutorial that I expect many players will just give up as they have no idea what they are doing.  I also would not be surprised to hear that these frequent walks through the Paris subway take up 30-40% of the actual game time itself since there is no other way in which to travel around the city.

Adding to the general crappiness of the game is the bargain basement presentation that does not even bother to show character graphics whatsoever.  Instead, we are presented with just white text that pops up on the screen as the various characters talk to one another.  Thus the player just gets a bunch of text without much depth to the dialogue itself and there aren’t a lot of clues providing the player with basic information as at one point I thought the teacher was male but turned out to be female.  Other issues include item descriptions that don’t exactly match to the object the player is looking for which I can attribute to either bad translation or just plain sloppiness.  At one point I began to tear my hair out looking for a “spike” but realized that the game wanted a “dagger”.

Like most Anuman games the total playtime hovers around two hours but there is absolutely no reason to replay this one as there is no end of game bonus.  Of course, there is a major reason for this as there are almost no mini games to be found at all.  The ending itself makes little sense so it’s extreme abruptness is actually a blessing since it gives the player all the more reason to delete this abomination off their iPads.  Seriously, even though Anuman regularly discounts their hidden object games to $0.99 this game is not even worth a play through at that price point as it is easily one of the worst experiences I have had the displeasure of enduring.

* out of ****

Reviewed On: IPad 2

Date: April 10, 2011

Reviewed Version: 1.0

Size:  53.1 MB

© 2011 The Galactic Pillow

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