Version Reviewed: 1.0
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Text-based, multiple-choice RPGs might seem like relics of the past—but that hasn't stopped Choice of Games from trying to single-handedly revive the genre. (See: Choice of the Dragon and Choice of Broadsides.) While it might look simple on the surface, a deeper look reveals Choice of the Vampire to be a historically grounded, complex "game" that blends RPG elements with excellent storytelling. You won't find Twilight-esque vampires here: this is New Orleans, circa 1814, and you character is exactly what you make of him...or her.
Like all Choice of Games titles, Choice of the Vampire (hereafter referred to as "CoV") features a plain white background, black text, and a plethora of choices on each screen. The story starts with you, a newly made vampire, just as the Battle of New Orleans is about to commence. The story revolves around your choices, and introduces you to colorful characters, from Clotho the voodoo priestess to Jackson himself. Murder, romance, political intrigue...it's all here in spades, as you interact with vampiric Society and ignorant humans alike. Do you chose to cultivate followers? Support the Southern cause in the Civil War? Influence your fellow vampires? It's up to you.
How you experience CoV's world is entirely dependent upon your character. First and foremost, who you are—former slave or rich woman of society—determines how other characters react. (This is, after all, 1814.) Secondly, your own character traits, which range from religiosity and compassion to knowledge of other languages, determine what actions you can take. When an option that disagrees with your character appears, it's grayed out. Different choices can lead to completely different plot lines, and much of the fun comes from exploring the possibilities.
There are some drawbacks apparent in CoV. While the history provides a rich background, sometimes it grows tedious. There's only one "save file." There are still some bugs scattered around—perhaps attributable to the sprawling plot options. And, perhaps most annoyingly of all, this is just the first piece in an installment; the ending feels abrupt and unsatisfying.
For the most part, however, CoV takes the reader/player on a sweeping journey in a slightly-fictionalized South, and the blend of narrative and RPG is as great as always. Choice of Games has really outdone themselves with this one...now I'm going to start yet another playthrough to see what changes again!