February 27, 2023
We are thankfully living in an age where video games are starting to feature characters of all manner of sexual orientation, gender and race. It’s absolutely wonderful to see different gamers represented in the games they play, but we still have a long way to go. One thing we don’t see a lot in games are people with different diets, and with many games featuring food as consumable items you’d think it would come up more. Outside of Wylde Flowers (a farming game that features vegan tags on the food you eat) I can’t really think of games with vegan representation. At least until Voltaire the Vegan Vampire came along that is.
After revealing his bloodless lifestyle choice to his siblings, our protagonist Voltaire has become public enemy number one in the vampire community. The only way he’ll be able to live life the way he wants to is by going out into the middle of nowhere and growing his own grub, so with a little help from his uncles Frank and Stein that’s what he does. Unfortunately this idyllic life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, because Dracula himself has ordered all the ghoulies of the night to destroy his home once the sun goes down.
There are two sides to Voltaire the Vegan Vampire, the farming side and the home defending side. In the day you’ll spend your time planting crops in order to keep your hunger at bay, and to set up some defences for the evening. There are two main types of plants to cultivate, food plants and plants that attack enemies. You’ll need the food to keep your hunger down and prevent you from fainting, but if you don’t grow enough defensive plants then keeping enemies at bay at night will be tricky.
There’s a nice variety of crops on both sides, from filling veggies and stat boosting beans, to ranged attacking vines and piranha plants. Growing this greenery is pretty straightforward – first you need to plough a square of field, then plant a seed and finally water it daily until the magic happens. Each of these activities depletes the hunger meter though, so you’ll need to make sure you have enough vegan snacks to complete your chores every day if you want to thrive.
There are plenty of ways to keep that belly full though. Crowberries found in the wilderness will help keep hunger locked up till lunch, and suspicious patches of earth can be dug up to find food, seed packets and materials. If you happen to have a few scraps of mouldy bread you can even feed the tentacled horror in the lake for rewards too.
Long term you’ll find lots of ways to make your life easier. With the rocks and sticks you find you can make wells so you don’t have to gather the annoying water droplets that bounce around everywhere. You’ll also get Soulstones from a variety of places that can be used to improve all manner of things. Whether it’s buffing your movement speed or making Crowberries more filling, every Soulstone you get will really make your life easier.
Once you’ve done all your chores and gone for a quick nap in your coffin the real game begins. Enemies will approach the farm from all angles, and it’s up to you and the plants to fend them off and keep your home safe. The combat starts off basic, with a single attack at your disposal and some traps that I never quite got the hang of placing. Enough levelling up though and you’ll have multiple attacks, orbiting allies that attack foes and even ranged attack options.
Despite all the upgrades though, these defence sections never feel quite right. You either feel so underpowered that you need to rely on your plants to do the bulk of your work, or you’ve levelled up enough that all your attacks deal with the ghouls of the night in a few hits (even the bosses). By the second half of the game my house stopped taking damage almost entirely, because between the powerful plants I stockpiled and ridiculous upgrades the baddies didn’t stand a chance.
These balance issues extend to the farming side of the game too. Once you’ve unlocked enough upgrades you’ll start to stockpile veggies and water to a ridiculous degree, and when I realised I was getting towards the late I gave up on my chores entirely and lived entirely off my inventory.
I also found out after I was done with the game that Voltaire the Vegan Vampire is apparently a Roguelike. Because I didn’t get a game over while playing I didn’t realise this, but I guess you can pick different areas to live in on your adventure which did seem randomised.
Once you realise what you need to do in Voltaire the Vegan Vampire, the chore loop becomes, well, a bit of a chore! Going around the map every single day searching for Crowberry bushes and places to dig gets old very fast, but is the best way to ensure you never have any food issues.
Voltaire the Vegan Vampire combines farming and tower defence with mixed results. Managing your hunger and defences is enjoyable early on, but once you figure out the best way to manage all the systems it just becomes too easy. The concept of Voltaire is fantastic, but sadly it just doesn’t quite come together that successfully.
Managing hunger and defences is enjoyable
Lots of impactful upgrades
A great cartoon style
Becomes far too easy when you work out how to manage the systems
Chores become repetitive
The combat isn't that entertaining
Voltaire the Vegan Vampire has some great genre bending ideas, but ultimately is too easy and rather repetitive .