The Best Vampire Games of All Time

Vampyr
  • Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
  • Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
  • Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
  • Release: June 5, 2018

The makers of Life is Strange are producing a new vampire-themed game in which you play the role of a vampire who stalks the city of London amidst the outbreak of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. This third-person game puts you in the role of Jonathan E. Reid, a vampire doctor whose thirst for blood forces him to seek out innocents in order to satisfy his bloodlust. In doing so, he must gather information on his targets, study their habits and maintain relationships with the inhabitants of London before stalking them and killing them. The game is quite unlike other vampire titles, in that it follows vampire lore. For instance, Reid can’t enter houses uninvited, so there’s huge social element involved in the game.

The Castlevania Series:

While the Castlevania series doesn’t feature vampire games per se, it is the most popular game series that features them pointy teeth doomy dudes. In addition, it features the most iconic vampire of all time. Hailing all the way from Transylvania, Romania, at varying heights and varying weights like a pointy toothed Christian Bale, in the blue corner, scourge of humanity, Dracula!

Castlevania

  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Platforms: NES, Arcade, C64, GBA, PC
  • Release: September 26, 1986

Debuting in Japan in 1986 on the NES, Castlevania was a typical platformer where you played as Simon Belmont. As should be common knowledge to anyone with gamer-cred, Belmont = vampire slayer. It’s in the scriptures, look it up. Simon goes to Castlevania, Dracula’s castle, and destroys both it and its owner. The shot where Simon looks on as the demonic castle crumbles in the distance is one that would reappear in other games of the series.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Platforms: NES, PC
  • Release: August 28, 1987

The second game, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, was a large departure from the first game both in scope and design. The linear gameplay was foregone in favour of a non-linear design similar to Metroid while being more open-ended, featuring new elements like a world map. In addition, a few staples of RPG design have made their way into the game, like allowing the player to purchase supplies, equipment and weapon upgrades in the various towns he could visit. You may also remember the popular “What a horrible night to have a curse!” message appearing when night fell. A highly ambitious game with a large amount of nonsensical elements attached, Simon’s Quest didn’t however review very well.

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse

  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Platforms: NES, PC
  • Release: September 1, 1990

The open-ended design of the second game was scrapped in favour of returning to form, with Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse coming out on the NES in 1989. Despite not having the open world map that allowed you to visit whatever any longer, the new game allowed the player to take branching paths as well as select between multiple characters. Well received as it was, it paved Castlevania’s way to the 16-bit console generation.

Super Castlevania IV

  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Platforms: SNES
  • Release: SNES

Super Castlevania IV brings you back behind the whip of Simon Belmont as he does the same damned thing as in all the other games, killing Dracula and bringing his castle down, but this time it is in glorious 16 bit! You also get wonderful directional whip swinging, sort of like a short ranged Spiderman that doesn’t use his web to shoot himself up, a greatly expanded upon control scheme because there are more buttons on the SNES controller to choose from, and the very unrealistic fact that Simon can be controlled in the air. He’s sort of like an upright, whip swinging, vampire slaying, hairless cat. Highly praised by critics, the series was solidified and was here to stay.

Castlevania: Bloodlines

  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Platforms: Sega Genesis
  • Release: March 17, 1994

Castlevania: Bloodlines came out on the Genesis in 1994. Standard fare for Castlevania, there’s levels, special weapons, chunks of levels with mini-bosses at the end, yada-yada. But there’s something odd about this game. It doesn’t happen exclusively in Dracula’s castle, nor in Romania for that matter. The first level does, but then there’s Athens, Pisa, a weapons factory in Germany, Versailles and even a fictional castle in England. In addition, you aren’t Belmont anymore, at least not in the name – bridging the story between Bram Stoker’s book and the Castlevania series, you play as John Morris, the whip dude and as Eric Lecarde, the spear dude. There’s a lot of intricacy added to the simple “go to castle and kill the vampire” story, but even though it does get a bit hard to follow at times, it does anchor the series into something more significant than Whack-a-Vamp.


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