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Review: Romancelvania Proves Love Doesn’t Have to Suck

Deep End Games takes a bite out of every genre to create the ultimate horror inspired romantic comedy.

Cole Martin

Mar 15, 2023

Vampires are hot. Let’s just get that out of the way. They’re always brooding and moody, thirsting for blood with a hot temper. Granted, they’re also dead, but nobody’s really perfect. They’ve also enjoyed quite a resurgence in popular media since the early 2000s what with Twilight and True Blood going mainstream, but there’s one genre in particular that our beloved blood suckers have never quite managed to break into.  Reality TV. Romancelvania wants to change that, however, but one genre is never enough. The Deep End Games’ sophomore title bites off a bit more than it can chew to create this mishmashed fever dream of an adventure. Somehow, though, it all still just works.

Romancelvania features Drac as its protagonist, the broody king of the vampires who has locked himself away in a castle after a failed relationship left him heartbroken and despondent 99 years ago.  Drac’s friend, the one and only Grim Reaper, is not having any of this pouting and decides that the best way for Drac to get over his past lover is by getting under every other monster you can possibly imagine. Grim has pitched this idea as a reality TV show where Drac must encounter the likes of Medusa, the succubus Ilessa, and even the devil himself who is a certified Jersey Shore meathead named Brocifer.

Image: Cole Martin for Game Crate

The Good

If you have any questions about how seriously Romancelvania takes itself, Brocifer answers all of them. This is a comedy game at its heart, and it misses no opportunity to just delve into the ridiculous nature of the premise its tasking its players with embracing. Despite The Deep End Games’ willingness to trot out Romancelvania’s ridiculous cast of characters to laugh tracks, the game is incredibly sex positive and shame free. Although initiallly being introduced as a male character, Grim directs the players to a character model select screen where they can freely allow Drac to display “their true self” as they choose between a masculine or feminine appearing model. Then a second screen prompts the player to choose Drac’s voice as either masculine or feminine, completely independent of the previously chosen body type.

The supporting cast is the real make or break star of the game, however, and Romancelvania does not disappoint with its fully voiced roster of monsters. Each line is stuffed with puns and dripped in cheese in a way that you just can’t help but laugh at, and the voice actors did not pull any punches when it came to playing up their roles.


Image: Cole Martin for Game Crate

The Bad

For as much as Romancelvania gets right in its story telling and character creation, there are a few areas where it gets things wrong. The game attempts to flesh out its visual novel elements surrounding the reality TV show with a 2D metroidvania gameplay element that works at its most core level but is lacking with regard to quality of life and accessibility features. Players are expected to explore Transylvania to complete tasks that help raise the relationship level of the monsters that they are interested in courting, and in doing so they will encounter some occasional enemies. Drac is capable with a sword, and other weapons including a whip or hammer as well as additional “tricks” like the bone-a-rang can be picked up during your escapades around and outside of the castle. Taking out enemies helps to raise ratings, which can lead to the show receiving awards.

Drac finding and accepting a reward to receive a powerup shows off Romancelvania’s weakest element—3D modeling. As beautifully rendered as the still illustrations of the characters may be, their 3D models (especially Drac’s feminine form) just do not translate the same way. There’s a strange uncanny nature to them that makes it hard to pinpoint just why they don’t work. This extends beyond just Drac and the monster cast, as well. One strange enemy is just a giant tongue with feet that mopes around. Slashing at it with your sword breaks it down into smaller tongues that run around even more. It’s such a strange thing to encounter in an otherwise witty game that has excelled at playing into its comedy that you can be left feeling like you’re the one that missed out on a joke somehow.


What surprised me

The metroidvania aspect of Romancelvania has its janky moments, as well. Despite being followed around by the spotlight sporting Battaboom, most of the areas you explore in Transylvania are far too dark. It makes navigating amongst the confusingly designed world that much more difficult. This is compounded, as well, by the lack of a proper map or any sort of waypoint and guidance system for the player. Backtracking to previously visited areas can be confusing, and understanding what items you may be looking for once you get there can be a bit obscure. There is a fast travel system disguised as ‘confessional carts’ around the map that can make traversal a little less antagonistic, thankfully.

What was predictable

A lot of Romancelvania’s missteps can be locked down to it being a new direction for The Deep End Games. Their previous release, Perception, was a first person narrative centered around a blind female protagonist exploring a haunted mansion she’d only known from her dreams. Perception relied on tapping a cane to produce a visualized effect that simulated echolocation to allow the player to briefly ‘see’ an outline of the area they were exploring. Because Romancelvania was such a dramatic departure from what this studio had previously produced there were bound to be some missteps along the way. In addition, we’re talking about an incredibly ambitious concept here being developed by a small studio with the help of crowdfunding. Polish is something that takes time and feedback, and there’s no doubt that The Deep End Games will continue to smooth out Romancelvania’s rough edges post launch much like we saw them do with regards to feedback for Perception.

Image: Cole Martin for Game Crate

Bottom line

I don’t regret a single moment I spent with Romancelvania. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hopeful for future improvements to the gameplay and I certainly acknowledge that it has its shortcomings, but for every misstep in 3D modeling or janky boss battle there’s 10 brilliant lines of dialogue that will no doubt put a smile on your face. The characters, their backstories, the ridiculous nature of everything going on will have you coming back for more. Every rose ceremony will leave you in strife as you must decide which monster you’re going to miss out on for the rest of your run. You’ll 100% want to replay again just to have more time with those you cut off the first go around. You can not help but have fun with Romancelvania.

Visuals: C+

Rating the visuals for Romancelvania is a tough call. On one hand, there’s the 2D character illustrations that are nothing short of phenomenal. They’re just really well done. On the other hand, there’s the 3D modeling component that is much more lackluster and really draws away from the otherwise stellar aesthetics of the game. Shadows land in all the wrong places, and some models deviate just a bit too much from their better looking 2D alternative. Add in that the map and level design is just way too dark in many areas, and it drags down an otherwise visually appealing game.

Image source: Cole Martin for GameCrate

Sound: A

The sound design for Romancelvania was a pleasant surprise. There’s plenty of gothic influence and some heavier metal music tracks crop up from time to time to break up the monotony. All of the characters are fully voice acted save for one who is so angelic that they could only be voiced via a harp.

Playability: B+

The lack of quality of life systems really drags Romancelvania down a bit. At the heart of it, the game would have been a stellar visual novel with some bonus mini games, but the metroidvania elements are a bit too over ambitious and leave the game feeling janky and undercooked. That said, you’re still going to want to go back for seconds because you’ll want more time with this delightful cast of characters.

Story: A+

The story is where Romancelvania shines. Everything from the dialogue to the concept is exceptionally written. The comedic beats are genuinely funny, and the cast of characters are intriguing. Their interactions with each other and the player are enjoyable and you find yourself getting really attached to these monsters and wanting them to like you as much as you like them. The whole idea of wrapping it up as a reality TV show keeps the story moving and gives it all purpose while allowing it to be creatively ridiculous. What’s not to love here.

Replay value: A

Romancelvania is a surprisingly girthy game that is going to require a time commitment even if you choose to play on its easiest difficulty. Meeting all of the cast and carrying out their quest lines, taking them on dates, and boosting their relationship status with you is a slow burn. However, the made-for-TV reality show side of the game means that you’ll be forced to kick off some of your favorite characters throughout the run time. If you want to finish exploring everybody’s plot lines then you’re going to have to replay a few times and purposely keep your romantic interest around for the entire season.

Overall grade: B+

For the purpose of this review, a game code was provided by 2124 Publishing.

Cole Martin

Cole Martin is a writer and artist living out in the absolute middle of nowhere who has a love for obscure indie games and also Call of Duty. You can find her posting occasionally on Twitter @eternalrhage

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