The Vampire Diaries
Release date: 1997
Developer: Her Interactive
Publisher: American Laser Games
Age 12 and up
A review by slydos 07th January 2002
Her Interactive became known in the last years through their series of Nancy Drew sleuth adventures. Since this type of adventure games pleases me well, I have endeavored, to aquire an earlier game from Her Interactive - "The Vampire Diaries". "The Vampire Diaries" belongs to the rare games, but after some months and some search I found it.
"The Vampire Diaries" is based on several best-sellers by Lisa J. Smith. We will slip into the role of Elena Gilbert, the main character. Elena's parents were killed in a car accident and she now lives together with her aunt Judith and her little sister Margaret in Fells Church, Virginia. There the pretty and self-confident Elena is the "Queen" of Robert E. Lee-Highschool.
After a vacation in Europe she returns to Fells Church, where just one of those rare parties takes place, in the gallery of the Russian Mikhail Romanoff. Elena does not feel like, but anyhow participates on urge of her aunt and mixes among the guests.
Here wejoin the story. In 1st-person-perspective we move through the gallery and meet well-known and unknown interlocutors. Suddenly a cry, we hurry immediately in the direction - Margaret is lying on the floor of an adjoining room and... a gray, translucent something flies away. The little sister is brought into the hospital and is remaining in coma. What attacked her? Elena investigates and discovers that Fells Church is afflicted by Vampires. How can she save her little sister and the whole city? An exciting and very dangerous search begins, because everyone could be the suspect...
Contrary to the Nancy Drew games "The Vampire Diaries" comes on three CDs. That is not astonishing at all, since the game has a large number of video sequences with real actors. Installation starts from CD 1, you can store minimum 20 MB on the fixed disk or 62 MB. The game must be started in each case from CD 3. During the game, depending upon location, another of the three CDs must be inserted. I had some game crashes and then selected under Windows a graphic resolution of 640 x 480 with 256 colours, what seemed helpful. Beside "The Vampire Diaries" no other program can run, should you try to change to another program the game is automatically aborted. The small manual is quite scarcely, however treats all important questions.
As the picture on the right already shows, the main menu is very similar to the one in the Nancy Drew games. Apart from the setup-options and the load/save/quit-options there is also a "Second Chance"-option here, if one became e.g. victim of an vampire.
The screen is divided - as with Nancy Drew - in 3 windows. The upper half shows the environment, in which Elena is. In the lower right window the scrollable inventory can be found and on the left the text-/dialogue-window. The button in the center left leads to the main menu, in the center right is a help-button. Additionally there are two spheres: if you click on the upper left, then the sphere rotates and displays the current time-of-day, the sphere on the right leads to the map of Fells Church. With one mouse-click the player can choose here from a series of locations. One has to visit both, daytime and nighttime locations e.g. the cemetery and the chapel, a gallery, the house of an eccentric collector, the highschool and the hospital.
"The Vampire Diaries" is played from 1st-person-perspective and controlled with the mouse. The cursor symbol changes from blue too green, if you approach the margin of the screen. If you then click the left mouse button, the screen scrolls in grades in the desired direction. So you can make a 360 degrees turn at any place and also can scroll a bit upward or down. If the cursor changes to yellow, you can interact with the object, the person or the area. In a close-up, an arrow cursor shows your way back. Within the lower area of the screen, in the dialogue or inventory area, the cursor has the form of a hand, which helps you scroll within these areas.
The participants in "The Vampire Diaries" are real actors (as e.g. in Gabriel Knight 2 or Black Dahlia), who are moving during the dialogues in film sequences. The graphics are rather moderate, but look more real than a drawn or computer-sketched graphic ever could. As soon as the cursor moves over an interlocutor, they turn to you and look interested. Naturally here are no difficulties with lip-synchronous text. Even they are young, the actors speak and act professional. Who should not understand the spoken text, can follow the conversation at the same time in the dialogue window.
The background music á la Hitchcock and particularly the title and endsongs sung by Greda Rose pleased me extraordinarily well. The very suspenseful and mysterious atmosphere is supported in the best way thereby.
There is a number of decoding puzzles, which are however quite easy and logical. With "The Vampire Diaries" it depends mainly on leading extensive dialogues with the correct selections - otherwise information and items for puzzle solution will be missing. Objects must be found and applied at the right time and the correct place. Books and notes must be examined. One should make notes or a drawing for oneself. Elena can change the time-of-day by herself from day to night or in reverse by going to bed or adjusting the clock. Some puzzles can only be done at a certain time. The puzzles are logical and from middle degree of difficulty. Desparation can only arise, if you forget to ask a certain question.
It's possible to solve the puzzles in different order. Elena may come into dangerous situations and cannot help herself any longer and then e.g. get bitten by a good looking vampire. Then you can load a save game or use the "Second Chance"-option.
I must say that I particularly enjoyed the topic and the presentation of this Her Interactive adventure. Actually a lot of suspense arises and it is possible, that one frightened wince, if something unexpected occurs. A real Mystery Thriller! Elena is not a vampire hunter such as Buffy, you'll do without action in favor of imaginativeness and thinking.
80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable 70% - 79% good game, recommendable 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable) 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only) 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
- Windows 95
- Pentium 60 Mhz (P 90 or better recommended)
- 12 MB RAM (16 MB recommended)
- 2x CDROM-drive (4x or faster)
- Mouse 100% Microsoft compatible
- 20 MB on hard disk (62 MB recommended)
- Soundblaster Pro or 100% compatible stereo sound card
- PCI Video-card with 1 MB RAM (2 MB recommended)
- Windows 95
- PII 233 MHz
- 64 MB RAM
- 4 MB graphic card
- 16bit sound card
- 24x CDROM-drive
Fells Church - Through this map you can reach the different locations
The eccentric Gary Richards collects all kind of magical objects
Bonny is Elena's best friend and interested in the supernatural
Stefan Salvatore works in the hospital - is he more than a nurse?
Beeing unobserved, Elena could examine the area
Old spells need a lot of ingredients
A secret room
Aunt Judith and Margaret introduce Damon Smith