Vampire Rain Reader Review
I don't think you'll find a single review that has anything good to say about this game. Those are the kind of reviews I like. With gleeful abandon, most games journalists have ripped this title to shreds and left it for dead (as opposed to undead). Nothing better than a videogame DOA, right?
So, having read all the badass reviews I went right out and bought the game. And it rocks.
Sometimes videogame journalists get it wrong. It's very simple. Perhaps they just took exception to VR's predeliction for vicious, unforgiving kills (two strikes, maybe even just one, from a 'Nightwalker' and it's time to say 'hello' to the Start screen), maybe they were expecting visuals of a GoW calibre and threw a wobbly when all they got was something perfectly acceptable, minus the bells and whistles of a Ubisoft or an Epic. But mostly, they didn't like the way VR does things - it's simplified MGS/Splinter Cell/Tomb Raider/Manhunt influences seemed, somehow, to offend.
This is a very enjoyable game, indeed, and I love the whole scenario: hunting nightwalking vampires - that's just cool, whichever way you care to look at it. This is sneaking as a fine art, sniping as a visceral leap of faith, assassination as a badge of courage, platforming as a very dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. VR will not forgive you, but it will let you take your time, it will let you make a plan and it will strike a chord of very deep terror should things go awry. When - if - that single headshot misses, you know your quarry is going to come right after you, jumping entire buildings to get to your warm throat and rip it clean out.
The visuals are fine. Not great: fine. The rain FX are fascinating, the textures are perfectly good (sometimes quite remarkable - as with the rain FX on character outfits) and the lighting and mood are spot-on. The frame rate is silky-smooth, the camera very cinematic and the whole shebang presents itself reasonably well. The way that each level is broken down into component sections is welcome - and makes for some very lengthy gameplay (one mission alone took me the best part of two hours to complete - with just one death).
Most of all VR demands you play by its rules in as much as The Need To Avoid Confrontation Is Paramount. The game will often reward you with a higher pass mark if you complete a level having not fired a single shot. Your weapons are mostly useless anyway for the first few missions. This is NOT a shoot-em-up. This is a survival game where the odds are never stacked against you if you keep in mind the absolute need to avoid taking on any of the Nightwalkers as often as possible, and so use your imagination to turn the environment to your advantage. The Nightwalkers are not that clever, but you, my young assassin, are.
I commend Artoon for a brilliant game. VR is tense, tricky and cruel. It knows what it wants to do - put the sh*ts up you and challenge you to use your brain for once, rather than whichever oversized blunderbuss you have half-cocked in your hands. VR says: 'if this was real, if you really were tracking lethal Nightwalking vampires, there wouldn't be many second chances, so think about what you want to do before you do it and don't get trigger happy - it will probably get you killed'.
A private gem of a game, one that passed many 360 owners by, and that's a real pity. If you see this lying about on a 'preowned' shelf, or lost in a bargain bin do yourself a favour, won't you? Pick it up, take it home, draw the curtains, make a nice cup of tea and settle down for a long, careful, nerve-wracking game of hide-and-seek with some of deadliest videogame nasties you're ever likely to run into.
8 / 10