My time with Voltaire: The Vegan Vampire was a bit of a roller coaster. The intro cutscene’s artstyle oddly deviates from the striking gameplay aesthetics, and by the end of my first in-game week I was already running out of things to keep my interest. However, I looked over the promising list of elements coming over the next few months of development. If everything comes together in Early Access like I believe it can, I’d gladly pour my soul into this game.
A fun twist of farming sim and tower defense with a look to die for, the upcoming title puts me in the fashionable cape of a young vampire. My family is viciously unsupportive of my new-found appetite for greenery and consequently, I’m chased from my ancestral home.
But a pair of understanding uncles (thematically named Frank and Stein), set me up in a nice graveyard farm with helpful hints to starting a veggie-filled life. It’s a silly premise in a game that walks a whimsically dark tone. So, prepare for a little quirky humor mixed into the caldron.
Voltaire’s gameplay is exactly the sort that latches on to me and won’t let go. It’s my job to clear the fields — which nets me rock or wood resources that will come in handy later — find seeds in the surrounding environment, procure water, and tend to my plants’ every need. Almost every action I take fills up my hunger meter, which, in the beginning, only drops when I eat produce. Since it can take days to grow crops, and foraging isn’t guaranteed to net you fulfilling foods, I’m careful with my every move.
My first field is small, with three scavenged plants watered and ready to go. Now it’s time to trigger the night cycle. Like a lot of farming games, the passing of time is important. Not only does it take a set number of days for my fields to bear fruit, but the game’s action-oriented gameplay only takes place when the sun goes down.
Heading into the house at the center of the graveyard, I discover a comfy coffin which helps me speed up the clock. But the dwelling also offers things like an alchemy table to craft new seeds with Soulstones — a currency I can earn by combining wood and rock, completing objectives, or growing from Soulstone seeds. I can also open up a nearby wardrobe to change up my look, access upgrades in the reliquarium, or dump unwanted items into a pair of composting cauldrons.
Nighttime transforms the graveyard into a battlefield. Each plant attracts its very own type of creature, with different stats, attacks, and difficulty, determined to destroy my house and farm. That means growing the more hunger-relieving plants can mean facing off against increasingly powerful foes at night. It’s an interesting system that gets me to consider if I’m prepared to reap what I sow.
My powers consist of a simple melee attack, and one AOE ability at first. Thankfully, my sparsely populated garden only invites a few, low-powered monsters and the sun rises on a successfully defended plot of land. I can now harvest anything that’s ready and eat, dropping my hunger. This allows me the energy to try a few different activities the stoney landscape provides.
A giant pool of water harbors a tentacled enigma that, when feed, may choose to gift me helpful objects. Curious cracks in the earth hint at buried treasure just waiting to be dug up. And broken-down wells jut from the ground which will grant me free water if I can gather enough resources to rebuild.
This is what the game needs more of. By the end of my first week, I had such an abundance of everything I needed just from one little field, I could do anything I wanted ten times over. And because I could do so much, experience points kept rolling in. This let me power up my basic fighting techniques to the point where night was never a serious threat and even the cool boss on the seventh-day fight offered little challenge.
Luckily, this is exactly the kind of adjustment Early Access is great for. If the developers can tweak the difficulty, put a few more limits on resources, and implement additional activities, this game could truly be one of the most enthralling of the year. I’ll be watching Voltaire’s development like a hawk to see if its budding potential blossoms. Don’t miss the demo up on Steam right now if you want to get a feel for the game yourself.