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Lair of the Vampire Reviews
Author: David Whyld
Date: 2002
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by Cannibal

Engrossing 

I found the atmosphere and attention to detail engrossing and a pleasing aspect. The introduction and opening scene was well constructed and you were immediately drawn into the plight that had befallen yourself and the strangers in the cell. That opening location was suffocating and oppresive and I felt trapped in an Anne Rice novel. I enjoyed the handling of the conversations with the key subjects underlined so there was no scratching around for "ask xx about xx". The subsequent puzzles are good and, although I've not completed the game yet, I can recommend it as something well written, moody and very enjoyable. Good atmosphere. Good descriptions. Thumbs up. 

8/10


Reviewed by Mad Monk

A good game in many aspects. The gameplay was well-rounded, the characters well defined, and the puzzles were interesting (interpret that as you will). 

The hint system, though, seemed a bit too helpful, especially to weak-willed persons such as myself. And, in one hint, being told to examine xxxxxxxxx in xxxxxxxxxxx, was only able to examine the one thing the author meant me to examine. All in all, though, quite good. (By the by, it's horror--not at all like YADFA or Uncle Grumble) 

7.4 of ten--almost an eight, not quite.


Reviewed by TDS

Nobody likes long games. This has been made very clear to us by the IF community as a whole. Opportunities to display your large game come far and few in between. After all, there is no competition for long games. Enter it in the IFComp and points will be taken off, but at least you'll get feedback. You could enter the Spring Thing but if your timing is off your game may end up sitting on your hard drive for a year. If you don't release it in a comp there's a good chance all your hard work will go unnoticed(non-comp + long = little feedback). Lair is one of those games.

The Lair

You start the game off sitting in a cell with a couple others, and you slowly learn that you are in...the lair of a vampire. The first thing you notice about the game is the top notch presentation and atmosphere. It makes an excellent use of colour and the writing is equally strong. The only thing I dislike about the writing is sometimes things get a little wordy. Some conversations get too long because the npc will start dumping lots of back story on you and some books start to feel like you're actually reading a book. The conversation system is interesting because you type "talk to character" and when the npc responds, words you can ask him/her about will be underlined.

> talk to priest
"Truly we are cursed," he mutters bitterly, casting desperate glances at the door. "God himself has cursed us for our sins and left us to rot in this vile castle. I never believed the rumours myself. I'm a good, religious man, and I just never believed that something like the Count could be real." His voice drops to a whisper. "But now I know the truth..."

This takes a lot of hassle out of figuring out what to ask the npc but it also makes for one sided conversations. The writing is still of a much higher standard than your normal adrift game. Vaslock, the vampire that imprisoned you, is made out to be a most despicable villain because he is always talked about but you don't see him until the end of the game. This effects works very well but after a while you realize he is one of the "arrogance is my downfall" type of character. You also meet many different npcs that assist you on your quest to escape. This is a refreshing change from the "solo evil slayer" type of horror games you usually play.

Baffled

Like most large games, the length is increased considerably by puzzles. And the puzzles in this game are a hard. Some are really hard. But most are of the "I overlooked this" or "I never would have thought of that" variety. You really have to pay attention to win this game without a walkthrough. At one point near the end of the game I realized I missed picking up a ring earlier in the game. Without the walkthrough I would have definitely quit the game out of frustration. There are too many of these little things that cause the player to quit the game prematurely. Looking at the walkthrough you'll find that there are things that you wouldn't have thought of, no matter how good an IF player you are. You will inevitably be faced with the task of reading the author's mind to make sense of a situation. The hints are usually no good too.

The Dream
In a shadowy cellar you stand, the walls forever fading in and out of reality, the floor one moment there, the next gone, the ceiling the night sky and then the bright light of day...
Resting on a plinth near to where you stand is a coffin.
Exits lie: in many directions

talk to vadris
"I fear I cannot help you here."
hint
Talk to the people here and listen to what they say.

Well that certainly cleared everything up! The game is largely nonlinear in terms of what you can do. You are on a set story path but you can are free to do things in any order you like. The story is engaging and it starts off moving and it never stops from there. But further in the game you do start to find more bugs, and in the end you find glaring ones that make you wonder if the author beta tested the game one last time before sending it out. The entire game you can't use the "look" command for some odd reason, you can only type 'l'.

YOUR JOURNAL HAS BEEN UPDATED - PAGE 15John walks towards you from the east.

You'll get spelling mishaps and cases of the author not closing the font tag. You'll also encounter Use the format "ask [character] about [subject]" later in the game, which is annoying. Cases of guess-the-verb and other little bugs will also be found.

A Cool Castle
Fortunately, the game comes to a dramatic conclusion and leaves you with a sense of accomplishment. Unless you aren't the author and had to resort to playing with the walkthrough in your hand. I like it despite all the bugs though. It was still engrossing and interesting to play through. It's the type of game that will last you for more than 2 hours. You can stop playing, save, and come back later.

I liked this lengthy adventure and I recommend it to anyone searching for a game to play that'll last a couple weeks. It's surprisingly good even though it seems like it was brushed under the rugs.

6/10

* That may seem like a bad score but for a long game it's pretty good. An interesting fact I found was that House of Horror (possibly the worst horror adventure in IF history) was reviewed twice as many times as The Lair. Yes. Nobody likes long games. 


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