Tin Man Games, $2.99
Despite being published by Tin Man Games, Strange Loves: Vampire Boyfriends is safe to play for people with high blood pressure or grown-ups with lives who do not want to spend six hours trying to get past the first fifty seconds of a hideously unfair campaign. After all, this is a Choose Your Own Adventure-style gamebook. No first encounter enemies rolling attack scores using five dice, scores that you need to beat using only two dice!
An effort to cash-in on the current vampire romance craze, using the excuse “parody” as the justification of its existence, this one has you, a female student in her final year of college, about to have one wild night out at the clubs. Or maybe you’d rather stay in and get ready for something big in class tomorrow? Either way, you are going to get mired knee-deep in vampires one way or the other. You can either be a vampire, a vampire slayer, or you can just drop everything and be a bohemian instead. And yes, there are several possible vampire snog-pillows available. Given the theme of this particular gamebook, it is actually hard to avoid being romantically involved with a vampire here. Don’t worry, parents – there are very mild and not at all explicit sexual situations here, all described humorously. So go out and be Buffy or Bella for a night!
Unlike some recent interactive books available, this one offers choices that really do impact the story. There are several possible story lines here, although you get an achievement for finding the best happy ending available. The horrible endings are ones where you have to deliberately be stupid to come across, so in a way, the choices are a straightforward and intuitive Usually, this is good.
Usually, that is. For this particular gamebook, however, things are too mundane for a playful parody for what is practically every popular vampire trope of the moment. This is because for the most part, the humor is pretty low key apart from some obvious nudge-nudge wink-wink poke at the Twilight franchise, and with the choices offered leading to predictable outcomes, zany humor is something that will help make the party more memorable. The lack of impact is not helped at all by the fact that the story lines here are often short and they end abruptly, just like those old Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks. So yes, a bit more humor would have made things far more interesting here.
This one isn’t bad for some time killing on a lazy afternoon. It’s too easy for forget once you’re done with it.