Urobuchi Gen and Nitroplus have proven themselves to be quite an irresistible lethal combination of dark gritty stories and highly quality stylized production values pinpointing straight into the heart of those visual novel gamers who look for something more serious and unusual, especially when compared to what their contemporaries are doing.
Vampirdzhija Vjedonia is Nitroplus’s only the 2nd game but unsurprisingly it keeps the company’s focus on pushing the envelope and trying something fresh and different with their every game but still build upon their recognized stylistic brand. This time Urobuchi (who is also the director) went for a combination cheesy Kaiju, specifically Kamen Raider (bike and mask included), mutated vampire monsters, and the western comic Blade. The premise is very cheesy, in fact so much that you can almost smell the pizza in the oven, it’s sticky and rubbery but sure can be tasty.
Somehow Urobuchi made it all work, even with hot thick layers of cheese the story is very dark and serious with almost no humor but plenty of gore. This all gets even darker and stranger as the plot progresses to a point that things might even feel uncomfortable for some. However this is not to make things darker for the sake of being dark but plays a crucial role in the plot and style of this visual novel. The game does a really great job of pulling your interest and keeps you wanting to know more about what’s going to happen next. It introduces new characters with critical roles to an overarching plot, conspiracies, science experiments, and lots of action. In terms of pacing the story almost never wastes your time. The story is presented as a series of episodes, each episode starts with an opening and an end credits videos which really gives it that Kaiju series feel, even if the tone is a lot more mature.
Speaking of presentation, this is where the game might be a hit or miss for some. In terms of visuals the game looks really good, at least for such an old game from 2001-2003, characters look great and are well designed with a really great color palette and cloth designs. The backgrounds are 3DCG, not surprising since Nitroplus relies a lot on computer graphics for their backgrounds. However the problem with the presentation is, first of all the music is bland and there are NO voices at all. No voices doesn’t mean it’s not a fun vn to play but it takes away from some of the more dramatic moments. Another problem are the monster designs, they aren’t just Ultraman cheesy, they have really bad designs and at times even funny, that is when you aren’t left asking yourself wtf am I even looking at.
An even bigger problem with Vampirdzhija Vjedogonia is that it has gameplay, and it’s a bad gameplay. Since the story plays out like an episodic monster of the week series (with an overarching plot), almost every episode has an action scene where the main character has to fight at least one of these monsters. Before the main character goes on a mission to kill the monster he can choose from a variety of weapons to take with him. As a player you have to pick your weapons carefully, some are better against certain monsters than others. Once you encounter the enemy you enter this really strange rpg style battle with menu selections. The problem is that sometimes whether you hit or miss are just random results. Other times it’s just knowing a patter, select the right choice in response to what the monster is doing. Sometimes the battles can take a long time to finish because you either keep missing or your attacks do very little damage. The end result is that it’s just a waste of time.
With all the praises the game gets it’s also important to know that the game was developed on a quite an old technology. It was only the 2nd game Nitroplus ever released and as far as I know back then they didn’t have their own engine back then and the game looks very primitive on a technological level. Their first game, Phantom of Inferno, was originally developed on Macromedia Director, today known as Adobe Director. For those who aren’t aware, Director was a multimedia content creation editor and was very popular in the 90’s. Think of it sort of like Flash. You can make animations, films, and even interactive games in it, a lot of people used it to make adventure games. The first Phantom of Inferno version looks extremely primitive and Nitro+ probably doesn’t want you to see it, however Vampirdzhija Vjedogonia on the other hand is a little more advanced with a much better, smoother, and more colorful art and better quality sound. So in terms of production values Vampirdzhija Vjedogonia is still playable but don’t expect the sound or the technology to wow you. Also, find a way to cheat through the gameplay parts and you’ll surely enjoy this little known game.