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Champy the Useless Vampire review

Champy the Useless Vampire review
Johnny Nys avatar image

Short and toothless but charmingly designed cartoon adventure better suited to kids

Vampire lore has seen many fictional incarnations. Some are scary, others are sexy; they can fill you with terror, and they can make you laugh. Champy the Useless Vampire is supposed to fit into the latter category with its 2D cartoonish style and basic inventory puzzles. And I did smile on occasion at the lighthearted nature of this of this breezy, whimsical adventure, but I never really laughed during a story that would fit nicely in the Don Bluth portfolio in terms of appearance, yet not so much in narrative depth. It’s clear that this game was designed to acquaint a young audience with the point-and-click adventure game genre, while more experienced gamers will be looking for a little more to sink their teeth into. 

The game comes by its child-friendly appeal honestly. Swedish indie developer True Ascension Productions is better known for making a couple of educational smartphone apps for kids before this, their first 2D adventure game for the PC. The tale is simple: Dracula has been poisoned by an evil cult and he needs an antidote. He’s the keeper of the Holy Grail, which is filled with vampire healing blood; drinking from this cup is what turned him into a vampire in the first place. Dracula himself is too weak to fetch the Grail from his vault, and nobody else is equipped to do so other than his grandson, Champy. What follows is 80 minutes of light puzzling to not only open the vault, but also to vanquish the giant squid residing inside it as a final guardian of the Grail.

Champy the Useless Vampire is a classic point-and-click game with a one-click interface and colorful hand-drawn backgrounds and animated characters. The palette contains lots of greens, blues and purples, which give it an appropriately gloomy (though never dreary) nighttime appearance that is very easy on the eyes and lets you quickly identify more vivid interactive points of interest. In the background you’ll often see a rat scurrying around the scenery, a spider dropping down from a web, or fish jumping up from the river. The charming design and nice attention to detail are almost enough to make you forget there aren’t that many places to explore. 

You start off at Champy’s one-room apartment in Paris, as a short tutorial explaining how to play. You then head off to Dracula’s castle with five rooms to explore, and later on you open a passageway into town, with six more locations. You’ll go back and forth between the town and the castle, gathering items you’ll only figure out how to use later on, and talking to quite an elaborate cast of characters to persuade them to part with their belongings. Some of the more notable characters you’ll meet are Dracula’s butler, the museum curator, a postman, an opera singer, and the cult members who poisoned Dracula to begin with.

Most of the puzzles are inventory-based. I don’t know why the developers have deemed the titular Champy “useless” as he is actually quite resourceful (with the player’s help) in reaching his goals. Using the inventory takes some getting used to, though. You open it up by clicking on the coffin icon in the top left corner, but then, instead of simply selecting the item you want to use with a click of the mouse, you have to hold and drag it onto the hotspots in the scenery. If it’s not the right solution, Champy will state that what you tried to do didn’t work. When you unsuccessfully try to combine items within the inventory, however, there’s a simple metallic clanking sound indicating failure instead of those generic dialogue lines. I could certainly appreciate that, since Champy’s lines can quickly become repetitive.

Being a vampire himself, when an item is seemingly out of reach, Champy will automatically turn himself into a bat to fly towards it and pick it up. Sometimes he’ll be chased away by something or someone, and then you first need to find a way past the obstacle. It’s a clever concept and nicely designed in a way, but it would have been even more interesting if you had been able to transform at will. I kept missing a deeper layer of interactivity here.

Champy the Useless Vampire

Champy the Useless Vampire
Genre: Comedy
Presentation: 2D or 2.5D
Theme: Historical, Monsters
Perspective: Third-Person
Graphic Style: Stylized
Gameplay: Puzzle, Quest
Control: Point-and-click
Game Length: Short (1-5 hours)
Difficulty: Low

Opening up the inventory also gives you access to the built-in hint system, which will show your immediate goal. You can ask for more hints and first get a little clue to nudge you in the right direction, before the next one literally tells you what you have to do. Holding down on the coffin icon once it’s open also activates the hotspot locator. Personally I didn’t need either of these features, however, as the puzzles aren’t very difficult and there’s never any pixel hunting required.

Champy’s first main objective is to hunt down three keys to unlock the gate blocking access to the vault with the Grail. One of the keys has been stolen by the same cult that poisoned Dracula, while the second is on display in a museum, and the last one is dangling around the neck of a faraway feline. With this tried-and-true adventure quest three-parter, you can easily choose which key to pursue at any given time. If you feel you’re stuck chasing one, you can move your focus to another and let your subconscious stew for a while on possible solutions, though it’s unlikely you’ll need to do so.

All item-based puzzles are very straightforward, so fortunately there are some logic puzzles as well to make things more interesting. When you try to open the castle vault with the keys, you’re then faced with a different button-combination lock. This mechanism is shaped as a world map, and every continent has its own button. There are clues strewn throughout the environments that you can explore, indicating the correct order in which to push them. I thought this was a nice challenge very well-incorporated into Dracula’s life.

Another brainteaser is getting one of the vault keys out of a slider box, where you have to move all the parts to open up a pathway. Of course all parts block each other, and you have to move them around in the correct order. In itself this is a fun little puzzle often used in adventure games, but here your progress is stalled by a constantly interrupting character you then need to distract in conversation again and again. This felt like an artificial way to prolong the game’s length, because in normal circumstances you could solve this puzzle in less than a minute.

Champy the Useless Vampire promises “funny” puzzles and dialogue, but while the whole experience is very reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons, the humor isn’t as zany or explosive as something like Looney Tunes. There’s nothing spectacular about this supernatural world besides being filled with familiar monsters; no real laugh-out-loud moments. It was all a bit too cutesy, goody-goody, too “square” to really tickle my funny bone. Like the Hotel Transylvania movies, it’s more lighthearted than truly amusing, more playful than a true barrel of fun. Once again, probably perfect for a younger audience, but not daring enough for grownup gamers. 

The characters are fully voiced, and though not all actors are completely convincing, they certainly aren’t dreadful. Thankfully Champy himself sounds the most natural of all, even if some of the others can come across as if they’re trying to recite the lines from memory. The accompanying music is much better than the voices, and makes it a joy to progress through the story, reminding me of the orchestral soundtracks of the classic Tom & Jerry episodes. There’s not a silent moment throughout, and yet the music is never too bombastic to take attention away from what’s happening on screen.

Final Verdict

With so little challenge, Champy the Useless Vampire essentially feels like an interactive 90-minute animated movie you might have watched on a weekend afternoon as an elementary school kid – fun enough at that moment to pass some time, but nothing really mind-blowing or memorable beyond that. It’s an easy, cozy little game to play in between more demanding adventures, or perfectly suited for beginners in the genre or the kids of adult gamers. It’s entertaining enough to quickly breeze through once, with no brain-busters or moon logic to worry about here, but it’s hard not to be left thirsting for more when you reach the end all too soon.

Hot take


Champy the Useless Vampire is a very short and easy adventure game that won’t pose any challenge to the experienced gamer, but its charming cartoon presentation and cozy gameplay might mesmerize their kids enough to try out the point-and-click adventure genre.


  • Full voice acting and elaborate orchestral type soundtrack
  • Hand-drawn graphics reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons
  • Built-in hint system to guide young or less experienced gamers along


  • Won’t pose any real challenge for veteran adventure gamers
  • No player control over the protagonist’s vampire ability
  • Very short, with the average run time of an animated movie

Johnny played Champy the Useless Vampire on PC using a review code provided by the game’s publisher.          


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