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Vampire Rain (Xbox 360) artwork

Vampire Rain (Xbox 360) review

"It's okay. No, really."

Vampire Rain asset

Go read a stealth game review. Any will do. Iíll even let one for a Metal Gear Solid title slide so long as you try not to roll your eyes too much while the unfortunate reviewer has to work through its clusterfuck of a plot. Hell, pick a couple, I donít care; Iím trying to make a point here.

Finished? I bet, somewhere in there, the reviewer complained bitterly about the stupidity of the guards they have to bypass. Oh, I bet they had a jolly old time laughing it up at their expense; about how moronic they are when they discover your sneaky protagonist, raise four billion alarms, and then forget about them entirely after they hid in a small patch of shadows for a while. Genome soldiers from MGS? Artificially enhanced super warriors with the memory span of a goldfish. Secret agents in Splinter Cell? Indifferent day labours that donít care who breaks in. Hired Goons in Mark of the Ninja? No, wait, they did that one right. Ignore that.

The common complaint running throughout the vast majority of stealth games is that the penalty for lacking stealth is akin to a slight slap on the wrist and half a minute of sitting quietly. What few people have ever asked is why the system is so largely this way. The answer is Vampire Rain. The answer is that if youíre actually punished for your mistakes, the entire world cries foul.

Iím not going to try and tell you that Vampire Rain is this much condemned gem of a game thatís simply misunderstood by the general populace. Itís not; not even close. It is, in fact, a little bit rubbish, but itís not the abomination the general buzz around it suggests. Surprisingly, what it more or less becomes is the stealth title critics have been crying out for since Solid Snake sometimes sneaked about between never ending CGI cut-always back in 1998. Itís a stealth/action game that offers real punishment for failing to conceal yourself from ever-alert and ever-dangerous foes.

Foes that happen to be super-human vampires. That can absorb several magazines of assault rifle fire. And can kill you in two hits. And that look like your average human until they spy you from half a mile away, grow fangs, and zoom towards you at terrifying speed to devour your life blood.

Fact is, a lot of these things are actually pretty cool. Under such circumstances, trying to sneak your way through a den of super powered mass murderers actually feels daunting. Slip up, and you die Ė the odds are heavily stacked against you surviving, a fact the game rubs in your face as early it can. While patrolling the rain-drenched streets of cheery L.A. you spot a Nightwalker advancing on a helpless girl, trapped between a monster and a dead end. Thereís a chain-link fence and some distance between you and it. Youíre heavily armed, and have the drop on your supernatural foe, so youíre commanded to save the youth. Everything seems to be going your way. Youíll fail.

Then, youíll die. Open fire on the vampire, and heíll casually kill the girl Ė you canít stop that Ė then heíll turn on you. Nonchalantly hopping over the twelve foot fence, heíll surge towards you, all the while shrugging off the bullets you panic fire at him. And heíll kill you. Donít get me wrong, you can survive, and he can be killed Ė and will have to be; this part of the game is obligatory Ė but youíll only do so after several attempts, and by the skin of your teeth. The lesson is clear Ė nightwalkers are to be avoided. Never again will you have the advantage of surprise and a tasty human distraction. Get discovered? Die gorily.

Vampire Rain asset

Vampire Rain gives you a number of locations you need to bypass, fills them full of undead sentries, then asks you to get from A to B without being even so much as glimpsed. Thatís more or less the game. Sure, it shoehorns in some obligatory shit, like an awful plot explained by worse voice actors and some fright attempts, like how youíre haunted by a spooky little girl for some reason. Every now and then, it bitchslaps your decidedly useless arsenal of weapons, gives you something worthwhile, and turns the game into an action title. Which kind of works. Spending ages sneaking into a hostile building is all made crushingly obsolete when you acquire some kind of anti-vampire shotgun that lets you kill any of the walkers with one blast. Iím not going to pretend that it wasnít an awesome feeling to be suddenly despatching monsters that could kill me with a glance or that strolling out of an occupied building that took me a good hour of careful sneaking into wasn't a powerful moment. What probably works better, though, is the staggered allowance of UV knives, which gives you a limited amount of charges to sneak up behind bastard sentries, and kill them where they stand, opening up bigger areas of the map for you to try and creep around in.

Really, though, thereís little else to do. You have a map, and you have to find a very, very precise path through it, or you die. Experimentation and creativity have no place in Vampire Rain, and it effectively boils down to trial and error. Thereís no distracting wary enemies, and silently putting them down only happens in deliberate set pieces involving the knife or a high powered sniper rifle that only seems to exist for fleeting moments. Still, the game manages to display some excellent ideas, like a boss fight where you need to keep targets pinned down by a swivelling spotlight. Or how you can temporarily lock on to people to see their range of vision and ascertain whether theyíre just regular humans stuck out in the awful weather, or bloodsucking monstrosities looking to eat you.

But mostly, itís about shimmying up drain pipes, trying to be quiet and dying anyway. Itís about going left at a junction before dying and coming to the conclusion that you should have gone right. Vampire Rain is sometimes a little unfair, but generally itís just unforgiving. Iím not going to pretend I didnít appreciate that, because it makes stealth relevant and not just a tacked on choice. I donít think thatís reason enough to bury the game; not when it looks a generation behind, has an irrelevant (and completely empty) multiplayer death match option and contains very little else up its sleeves.

Vampire Rain doesnít belong on all the top ten worst games ever lists that cringeworthy hacks continue to push onto a disinterested audience. It just doesnít really belong on anyoneís wishlist either.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (October 30, 2013)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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If you enjoyed this Vampire Rain review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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Linkamoto posted October 30, 2013:

Pretty solid review, Gary. I am a little unsure of who the protagonist is and why they're tasked with taking down the vampires, though. Nice intro. It really helped set the stage for the theme of your review, which I appreciated. There are about 3-4 typos here, though. Just FYI. I was ultimately surprised by the final score. I thought from the tone of the review (despite you going out of your way to say the game is not as bad as most make it) that it would net around a 4.
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EmP posted October 30, 2013:

The protagonists are about as clichť as you can imagine. It's a small military-themed group that literally hit every trope you can get. There's the main one -- the lone gun with a tragic past tied in with the vampires. There's the black veteran leader, the slinky female sniper, and the geeky tech guy who is geeky and does tech stuffs. They're so obligatory, they kind of slipped my mind. They just kind of exist.

I've gone back through the review and hopefully weeded out the errors you saw, as well as played about with the screen placement. 6/10 feels about right to me, because it's one of only a few stealth games where I actually enjoyed the stealth, and didn't view it as an awkward tack-on. Remaining unseen isn't a handy bonus -- it's the everything. I wish more games had the guts to challenge their players as much.

Thanks for reading, and taking the time to leave your thoughts.
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pickhut posted October 30, 2013:

You pretty much nailed why Vampire Rain has a weird charm to it when you give it a chance: the stealth is brutal, but it's what makes the game. This was a pretty fun read... and I completely forgot about the ghost girl until you mentioned it. Good review!
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EmP posted November 01, 2013:

That little girl was so pointless. They tried to make her valid in the game's cliffhanger ending, but they must have known there would be no Vampire Rain 2: Rain Harder.

I originally played the game around the same time you wrote your review, which more or less said everything I would have said -- and did! As you can see now above. As such, I didn't bother writing anything until I needed to do something horrory and remembered this.
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Suskie posted November 01, 2013:

Terrific review, EmP.
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EmP posted November 02, 2013:

Thank you, Suskie.

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