The curious vampire of the original The Sun for the Vampire flash game did well to make it through the increasingly challenging platform-style puzzles, but his journey didn’t end when the game did. Its developers, Eyesteam Games, were sensible enough to realise the popularity of the original (due to its 1 million+ downloads on Kongregate) and came up with a sequel. Suffixed with the title Monsters Castle, this second Sun for the Vampire game will be a familiar experience if you’ve played the original, but with some tweaks and additions to the mechanics to provide even more variety in its puzzles than is seen in its predecessor.
A quick look at the gameplay here would lead one to think that not much has changed since the original. This isn’t far from the truth – the developers have decided to stick with what was undeniably a winning formula. It’s a platform game staple: movement controls set to simple left/right assignments, best implemented by using the Left and Right directional arrows on your keyboard. Much like in Neutronized’s Drop Wizard, there’s no jump function, and when you fall off the edge of a platform, you gently glide downwards instead of falling. This gliding action allows you to swoop left and right as you descend, possibly grabbing certain items or accessing certain areas as you do so.
Yet more familiar mechanics come from your vampire’s ability to transform into a bat by pressing the Up arrow on your keyboard. Holding the up arrow allows you to stay in bat form, where you can take flight around the level. This affords you the ability to access various areas that would otherwise be off limits to you. However, one difference to the original is the introduction of bat-time limitation. In other words, there’s a timer bar that appears when you take flight; you’ll be forced to return to your vampire form when it runs out. This restriction serves to add an extra challenge to each level since you can’t simply fly around for an indefinite amount of time.
As well as offering up an entirely new set of challenges spread across the game’s 30 uniquely-designed levels, the inclusion of a few brand new variables means that extra dimensions are added to the game’s action. You’re now able to lift up boxes (tap the Down arrow) to either use them at platforms/switch holders or even turn them into weapons by pressing the Up arrow when holding one in your hand.
This ability is just as well, since there are also enemies wandering the halls and crypts of the castle that can make your life quite difficult. Monsters in suits of armour, for example, will follow you and swipe at you given the opportunity – one hit from these will kill you and cause you to have to restart the level.
It doesn’t get any more forgiving with the other pitfalls and booby traps left for you either. Steaks will often fly out of the wall, and blades will often swipe down in your direction. It’s all part of the challenge of the game to avoid these of course, which can be done a multitude of ways including placing boxes on top of switches, transforming into a bat to avoid them, or even running left and right with precise timing. The action reminds one of Knightmare Tower somewhat, only without the launch element.
Stylish as Ever
The game’s setting is almost identical to the first, with each level taking place within the confines of a gloomy castle. The design is as polished as ever, and with the introduction of the slowly-shuffling zombie-like characters in suits of armour making the game much more reminiscent of the Plants vs Zombies style.
The Sun for the Vampire 2 has some combat mechanics (the ability to push over certain enemies), bringing it in the same league as Lucky Tower in this respect. The illustrations and graphic of Monster Castle are arguably even more polished than the sublime Reverse Boots game, too, though the latter game does have an advantage due to its more imaginative and dynamic gameplay dynamics that form a central part of the platform puzzles contained within.
The Sun for the Vampire 2 is undeniably a fantastic sequel to an already impressive original. It’s a wonderful hybrid of platform puzzle and castle-based adventure, and it looks prettier than a majority of flash games out there today.