Currently featured as this week’s free App of the Week on iPhone and iPad, Le Vamp is an endless runner game from established games publisher High Voltage Software.
In the game, you control a cute little French vampire who goes by the name of Le Vamp as he runs from an angry mob of people he’s managed to upset. You also have to avoid various ghouls, running water, and sunlight along the way and collect coins and pig blood as you go.
This means that there are a lot of swift finger flicks and taps required to keep Le Vamp going as far as you can.
Hitting any of the obstacles reduces Le Vamp’s health and this can be restored by swiping pigs towards him for to be devoured. Coins collected, which are Francs, can be spent in the in-game store (or Crypt) on power-ups and upgrades to aid Le Vamp.
The gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has played running-style games before. Although most of the jumping and sliding has been replaced by slicing and chomping enemies, the general premise is very similar – run as far as you can, deal with obstacles, and collect coins.
What makes Le Vamp unique, however, is the level of thought that has gone into the character and mood of the game. Le Vamp is devilishly cute and the almost tongue-in-cheek French characterisation is actually quite charming.
On first playing Le Vamp, you are introduced to the story and the gameplay with a tutorial talking you through each new aspect, be it obstacle or power-up, as you encounter it which helps you to get playing quickly. I actually found that there was a lot to take in at first and swiping pigs, enemies, obstacles while tapping coins and power-ups was actually quite challenging immediately. The pace soon picks up too and it becomes increasingly difficult.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and after a few runs you soon get the hang of it, it was just immediately apparent that this was trickier for a beginner than other running games I have played.
Further to this, the game also has depth to it which makes it increasingly difficult. Although basically a side to side runner, elements in the background are active unlike other games of this genre and often coins and pigs will appear there which can be collected – another set of things for the player to deal with.
I actually prefer games to be challenging as they are more likely to keep me playing for longer and Le Vamp certainly succeeds at that.
As mentioned before, Francs collected in the game can be spent in the Crypt. Initially, items are cheap but they increase dramatically in price as you upgrade them. This means that it becomes really hard to collect enough coins to purchases the power-ups and upgrades you want, a clear ploy to get you to spend real money on in app purchases, as is very common in the mobile games market.
I am not necessarily opposed to in app purchases, especially when iOS games are so cheap to purchase or even free to play in many cases. But in Le Vamp’s case it’s a little annoying when a level one upgrade costs a couple of hundred Francs, which is fairly easy to collect in the game, and the level two version of the same upgrade can cost a few thousand, which is significantly more difficult to collect in the game.
French stereotypes and in app purchases aside, Le Vamp is actually a fairly unique take on the endless runner category and contains some welcome gameplay changes. It is normally well worth its £0.69/$0.99 price tag, but you can grab it now for free. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
TiP rating: 7/10
iTunes link: Le Vamp