It is very rare that I play a PC game. Normally, I write them off and just assume that my computer can’t run them. However, this unfortunately leads to me missing some gems here and there. I am so glad I decided to play Alawar’s new hidden item game Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock. The game is an addicting and fun romp through a world you wake up in knowing nothing about. You have to learn, figure out puzzles and find items to help you unlock the mysteries of this town, which seems to have gone down the tubes.
The story goes that you crash your motorcycle in the town of Hill Lock. You have amnesia, and all you can remember are faint moments, such as a dark figure blocking your path, and crashing your motorcycle, but other than that, nothing. As you explore the town, you are forced to search for clues, gather useful items, and solve clever puzzles. Fire emerges from cracks in the streets, and you see a tower in the distance, which you are constantly drawn to. The story takes some very smart turns, and actually has a good twist ending. The story really doesn’t take up a lot of the game, but it is the focal point that draws you forward to finish it.
The gameplay is very simple while, at the same time, it is addicting and makes you constantly want to solve the next puzzle. There are two types of things you can do. There are areas where you have a list of items, and you search for them from a giant clutter on screen. They can be basic things like bowls, scissors and stuff, but when you do this, you get one item that is useful in solving a puzzle to progress in the world. The other main component of the gameplay is that you acquire items from the rest of the world, and you use all of the items collected to fix things around the town.
There is a lot of backtracking, but that is normal in an adventure game. However, there are some instances where I had no idea where to go, which is why I am happy that a hint system was implemented. At almost any time, you can hit a button on the bottom right of the screen to show you where to head next. At times, you’ll also have to take pictures of certain areas of the world. When you do this, you collect rubies. These rubies play a role in the final chapters of the game, and are essential.
There are two difficulty levels. In the casual mode, you can use the hint system more often, and are able see a white smoke around what you need to interact with. In expert mode, you still have the hint system, but it is very limited, and the smoke is gone. This will give you a chance to play this game twice through, and really test your skills, if you feel you want to.
In terms of graphics, they are pretty much static images that you are looking at. Some things move, and you are able to easily figure out what you are looking at, as you have to with some of the item search puzzles. The cut scenes are comic book-esque and do a good job explaining the story. Overall, the graphical quality is very good, and the environment is very stylized and colorful in parts. I really like that each area of the town feels different.
When it comes to sound, there is faint music that is playing at all times. The items that you pick up and use in puzzles have sound effects associated with them, and there is a constant flashing and moaning of a spectral figure in the town. The sound is not varied all that much, but it does a good job conveying what it needs to, and that’s all that matters.
As I mentioned above, the game is very addicting, and I found myself wanting to play more and more until I finished it. I did this in about three sitting. It is honestly a lot shorter than I would have liked, because of the fact that I was having so much fun with it.
The game does have its fair share of problems. As I said, the back tracking did get annoying, and I found myself getting turned around when trying to remember to find an item I needed to use. This doesn’t detract from the game, but I think it could be addressed in later installments. There were also some moments when I had a hard time clicking on what I wanted to, and I had to click around multiple times to get the game to move me to an area. It was a minor thing, but it did frustrate me a little bit. The game can be difficult, don’t get me wrong, and beginners should play on the causal difficulty to get the most out of this experience.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this game. I would definitely consider playing more of these types of games, as they are addicting and fun, and are a good diversion from some of the more serious games out there right now. I really was surprised at how much I loved the game, and I feel that playing this will definitely broaden my horizons into some PC gaming. It is a fun game that really anyone can enjoy, you just have to give yourself the time to play it, because once you start it, there is no stopping until you solve the riddles of Hill Lock.
Review copy provided by publisher.