IFComp 2007: Vampyre Cross

And next we have another game by Paul Allen Panks. Those of you who aren’t judging the Comp may be surprised that he could enter two games into the same competition. Well, in fact he didn’t. He entered three games. I’ll probably get to the third this weekend. Spoilers follow the break.

The very first thing that we notice about this game is that it comes in the form of a pair of Commodore 64 disk images. This is something Panks does. No one knows why. This work seems to be organized such that most of the game data is on Disk 1 and object descriptions are on Disk 2, so every time you examine something, you have to swap disks and then swap back. I more or less gave up on examining things after a while.

The game starts with the classical Panks opening, in a small village with a tavern, a church, and well. Maybe half of his games start this way. It’s his way of saying “I’m not going to try anything new in this one”. There’s wilderness to explore, monsters here and there that you can fight. Panks has been accused in the past of just writing the same game over and over with different titles, which isn’t entirely true, but games like this are its basis. Unsurprisingly, the “vampyre” theme seems doesn’t enter into it much — the end boss is apparently a “vampyre”, but everything else is generic fantasy mixed with silly bits.

Combat here is completely noninteractive: you type “fight [monster]” and a bunch of text scrolls by with messages about hitting and missing. So combat is kind of boring, but it might actually be completely optional in this game — nothing ever attacked me spontaneously, even when I took the items they were presumably guarding. So the only real danger in the game is that you’re prone to suddenly dropping dead of thirst without warning.

Still, I didn’t encounter any noticable bugs in the hour or so of my life I sacrificed to this game. Some genuinely weird spelling, but no actual gameplay issues. So I think this game deserves a higher rating than usual for Panks.

Rating: 2

[ADDENDUM 29 Oct] This game has been disqualified from the comp for having been released to the public prior to the comp: it was posted to a Commodore listserv back in April. No wonder I didn’t see any major bugs. This isn’t the first time Panks has tried to violate this rule, and I doubt it’ll be the last.

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