Vlad: The Impaler

Vlad: The Impaler is a game that hearkens back to the days of classic PC gaming. There is no action other than what is described to you after you make a choice. Everything is in text, other than a few black and white still sketches setting the scene. It's an interactive story that reminds me of when I was a kid, reading "Choose your own adventure" style books. The premise of this one is that your character has been called to Istanbul to solve the mystery of the evils that has plagued the town lately.

You start off by picking one of 3 characters: the explorer, the soldier, or the mage. Each starts with its own strengths and will have an easier time getting by some of the events than others. For example at one part I was exploring the catacombs. Thanks to being a mage, the character had a spell that prevented him from getting lost and thus avoiding the bad outcome of that scene. Also, once you pass the middle chapter, your character will become a more advanced version of themselves. The mage will be ether a holy priest or sorcerer, the explorer will be ether a spy or emissary, while the soldier will become ether a knight or assassin.

You are presented with a map of the city and you simply click on where you would wish to visit. From there, you are given a list of options. Things such as "Wander at nightfall" or "sneak into the palace", depending on where you are in the game. As you progress, more areas open up with their own events to unfold.

Your choices affect your stats and your stats affect whether your choices in events succeed or fail. Some will require agility, others may require combined stats of intellect and magic. Since the events themselves are the same each chapter and playthrough, it's easy to go back later and replay effectively, picking only the events that will give you bonuses that fit your character. In addition to making the wrong choice at certain parts, you can also get a game over if any one stat hits 0. Your stats also add up in the final confrontation with the enemy. You'll be given a list of attacks or options such as charm and you must succeed more than once in order win. Luckily, as you explore you can visit the menu to see which attacks you have access to and which stats they need to be effective. Once again all this lends to replaying later with more knowledge of what lies ahead.

The music in this game was mesmerizing. I felt the audio track really added to the immersion as I was reading the events going on and the black and white sketches were wonderfully drawn. Of course in a game like this what matters most is the writing, which I found to be wonderful. I had no trouble replaying it several times as different characters to see what might happen next. I found the story to be engaging and intriguing. Well worth more than just one playthrough, especially considering the price of admission.

It was a very short, yet replayable game. For people who miss the days of the old school point-and-click adventure and more text heavy games, this is definitely one worth checking out. The only real negatives I have to say is it would be nice if it were just a bit longer and if more were explained. Figuring out how to play was simple luck for, due to my experience in the genre. I could see someone not used to these sorts of games being a little lost at first.