IFComp 2016: Darkiss! Wrath of the Vampire – Chapter 2: Journey to Hell

Spoilers follow the break.

OK, this is a sequel to a game I haven’t played, apparently about Machiavellian vampire power struggles. In this chapter, we join the vampire Martin Voigt as he descends to Ovranilla, “a dreadful and hellish realm”, to explore and solve puzzles and ultimately meet with the priestesses there and gain the power he needs for total world domination. Ovranilla consists entirely of locations with names like “Valley of Tears” and “Mountains of Pain” and “Swamp of Distress” — the game compares the terrain to Dante’s Inferno, but Pilgrim’s Progress is a good comparison as well. It’s all very overblown in an enjoyably campy way. There are more artifacts of great power than mundane objects in this world, and more supernatural presences than ordinary people. I wasn’t entirely sure that camp was the intention at first, but eventually I found “the enormous vine of the Halloween pumpkins, whose terrifying fruits host the trapped spirits of the witches and monsters that every All Hallows’ Eve come back to fill the world with their wickedness”, and that more or less settled it. The whole game ends with the line “when your revenge is taken, nothing will prevent Martin Voigt from casting his long dark shadow over all the planet. Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah!”

As Voigt, you have some vampire powers: you can turn into a wolf, a bat, or fog, and you can hypnotize people. For each of these powers, there’s one puzzle that requires it. Hypnosis is frankly a disappointment as a power: there seems to be exactly one person in the entire underworld it can affect. The other forms at least improve your mobility in more generally applicable ways, and thus seem more like game mechanics than special-case adventure puzzle solutions.

One puzzle I think is worth noting in particular, because of the way it makes a virtue of a constraint. At one point, Voigt finds the spirit of an old lover of his, Sabrina, now in the form of a harpy. (It’s not clear to me if Sabrina was in the first game or not. There are a couple of other NPCs that clearly were — the hellish setting means that even people Voigt killed previously can show up.) Sabrina has one of the artifacts of power you need to succeed in your mission, but despite her history with you (or perhaps because of it), she won’t just let you have it. You need to trade another, equally powerful item for it. The problem is, the item she wants is one that you’ll need later. The author’s solution is to make the gift she wants deadly to her: give it to her, and she burns up, cursing your name. This allows you to leave with both items, but it also fits the character, showing us his ruthlessness, how eager he is to betray those close to him for power.

This game is a translation from Italian to English. The translation is mostly fine, but there’s a persistent problem of mixing up verb forms, as in “You can’t climbing up the slope in your human form” and “if you went through the storm, you’d risk to dissolve”.

No Comments

Leave a reply