A little less than a year ago, a quiet little game called Lamp and Vamp caught my eye. As a product of the 2014 Procedural Death Jam, Lamp and Vamp went on to win the “Best Art” and the “Best Game” accolades from the event. The developer, Globz, decided to take Lamp and Vamp and continue to develop it into a full-fledged mobile game. Ten months later, here we are, with the retail version of Lamp and Vamp ready to go.
In Lamp and Vamp players must direct a vampire to his coffin through the dark of the night, taking care to avoid the lights of the villagers on the lookout for such fiends as yourself. Each level takes place on a grid, and each turn players can move to any tile adjacent to them. The trick is to avoid the tiles the villagers lights are lighting up (easily describable due to their yellowish tint) and plan your movements based on the predictable patrol patterns of the villagers.
Each enemy type patrols in different ways; the common villager will patrol in a straight line, making right turns whenever he bumps into an obstacle; the priests will also patrol in a straight line, but make left turns when the bump into obstacles. For easy reference, each enemy’s movement patterns are specified in the handy bestiary that players have access to once the enemy type has been encountered in the game.
If the vampire is spotted in the light, he must flee or it’s game over. Easier said than done.
Villagers will break patrol patterns to keep the vampire in their light. Luckily, as a vampire you have a few tricks up your sleeve. Most obviously, you can turn into a bat which will instantly teleport you a few tiles away from your current postion. The vampire can also turn into a ghost which can safely pass through illuminated tiles without being detected. Both abilities also allow the vampire to pass through obstacles like houses and trees. However, using these abilities drains your blood, so you should only utilize them in a pinch. To regain blood you do have the option to eliminate enemies when you’re in an unilluminated tile adjacent to them, but the process costs two full turns and requires you to remain stationary for the duration.
Lamp and Vamp gradually introduces new enemies to players, so you will have plenty of time to get familiar with the latest enemies before having to worry about new ones.
The levels are procedurally generated, so each time you play the layout shifts around a bit. The levels and enemy placement randomization is basically a game of Russian Roulette. Some games you will breeze right through the level (one time I simply had to zig-zag up to my coffin while enemies were stuck bouncing back and forth on obstacles on the other side of the level), but most times I wasn’t so lucky and I found myself cornered rather quickly.
While there are little arrows that show you what direction the enemy is moving in the next turn, a problem arises when two enemies are about to collide. Because (after the first few levels) Lamp and Vamp requires you to plan ahead a few moves at at time, the question of which enemy will move into a tile first (forcing the other enemy to turn away) is a major hazard that I had to face numerous times. There was no way to predict who would end up occupying a tile and who would turn away. Sometimes it worked out, other times it was the bullet in the chamber.
Other than that issue, I really enjoyed my time with Lamp and Vamp. The game is tough, but simple to play and charming. Prepare to spend your next few evenings with Lamp and Vamp.