Vampire Hunter D is an action-adventure game based on the novel written by Hideyuki Kikuchi, and the anime that followed. You take the role of a vampire hunter named D who is the offspring of a human and a vampire, who is hired to rescue a girl who's been kidnapped. The game is similar to Resident Evil, using polygons for the characters and prerendered graphics for the backgrounds. Gameplay and control are also quite similar, with the addition of a few extra moves. The main character can jump, guard, and strafe, which would seem like an advantage. But is it?
One of the main problems with the game is the control. The addition of jump, guard, and strafe functions may sound like a good idea, but it's actually the cause of the problem. First of all, you will come across places where you are required to jump. Since the background is a flat graphic, you'll have a hard time judging distances properly and may end up falling into a pit. You'll also meet enemies that fly, so naturally you will want your character to jump and attack them. Sometimes, you may want to be more aggressive and risk getting hit while attacking, but you'll find your character will often accidentally perform a backflip when you jump and you'll get hit. When you're not wielding a weapon, the control is exactly the same as in Resident Evil, but when you are wielding a weapon, the control changes, letting you strafe and circle strafe. Pressing the D-pad in battle causes you to face the enemy. So let's say you have your back turned to a monster. You would think you'd press forward to run away from him, but instead, hitting forward will cause you to turn and run at the enemy. The game's backgrounds get confusing easily, particularly when you're in a room with doors on all sides. This is more pronounced when you're fighting an enemy, as the camera angle might shift midfight, leaving you reeling. The running could also use some work. When you stop running, the character slides forward, which can mean the difference between life and death in certain situations.
The graphics in VHD are merely average. The CG movies are pretty amazing, although they don't stand up to the movies found in other PlayStation titles. The only detailed character is D himself, while the other characters and the enemies look a little blocky. The motion of D drawing and putting away his sword is good, but many other animations are poor. Likewise, the sounds are quite quirky. Some effects are really great, while others are just awful. The music department is really lacking, failing to set the mood and atmosphere properly. Even worse, the music actually suffers from slowdown in certain cutscenes. The game gives you the ability to skip some cutscenes, while others are required viewing. Strange.
Although the back of the box says the game has multiple scenarios, it really doesn't. The game has a linear plot and three endings, each of which is triggered by certain criteria met during your game. If you want to take a look at the different endings, all you have to do is start from a certain save point and just fulfill the criteria as you see fit. The game also says you can control another character named Leila, but you only get to do so for a very short while, sort of like when you controlled Ada or Carlos in the Resident Evil series. The gameplay time spent totals about ten hours - quite shorter time than you'd expect.
Overall, much like most other Resident Evil clones, the game just doesn't capture the magic of the Resident Evil series. Die-hard fans of the genre or the novel may find some value here, but not enough to warrant a purchase.