Reviewed: December 14, 2010
Released: October 5, 2010
When it comes to the DSís budget game arena, thereís certainly no lack of hidden object games. With City Interactive tossing another competitor into that arena with Vampire Moon: The Mystery of the Hidden Sun, gamers on the hunt for more objects to search for have a new choice, but its hand-drawn graphics and pleasant presentation are weighed down by its short length and often illogical puzzles that draw from the dark depths of adventure game history.|
Vampire Moon features reporter Emily Davis, sent on assignment to Transylvania to report on a solar eclipse thatís lasted for days, and to investigate the localsí belief that Dracula is involved. The story unfolds between puzzles, with the bulk of the game being searches for hidden objects. While this can be entertaining and challenging, the hidden objects are split halfway between objects that make some degree of sense for the location, like a peach pit on a fence or a phone on a bookshelf, and objects that wouldnít make sense in any location, like musical symbols etched on a barrel or an outline of a diamond in a knothole of a tree. The objects you find rarely have anything to do with furthering the plot, creating a bizarre disconnect from whatís happening, pulling the player out of the story.
The hidden object puzzles are broken up by puzzles and mini-games. While the mini-games are generally fun, providing varied challenges and falling into place when you work out the right angles, the adventure game-styled puzzles are often confusing. Even when the game tells you what it wants you to do, it makes scant sense, like closing the gap in the bridge by placing a shield on the hole, rather than walking around it. When the game doesnít give you these hints, it degenerates into an adventure in trying to read the developersí minds, falling into some of the worst adventure game pitfalls. It never quite reaches the level of making moustaches out of cat hair, but thatís faint praise for the puzzle design.
Despite these problems in the game itself, the art is fairly terrific. Creating a good sense of place, each of the areas you explore for hidden objects is a hand-drawn image that was well crafted. While the surreal nature of looking for bizarre objects for no discernable reason undermines the reality of the world, the artists canít be faulted in that regard. Still, there arenít many of these pieces, and the game can be blown through in a few hours of play. While replays will randomize the locations of the objects, the other puzzles remain the same, making the only real replay value being in the object search parts.
While Vampire Moon ends up with good presentation and some clever min-games, the puzzles and length of the game weigh it down. The object searches are the least interesting part of the package, but theyíre all you have left once you finish the main plot. For fans of hidden object games, Vampire Moon might be worth taking a look at, though there are better games on the market, but for fans of the adventure genre, itís an easy miss.