16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonalds is a comedy horror puzzle game, made in Twine. Spoilers below the cover image.
First impression: The cover image may be on-the-nose but it does the job and looks clean and neat. The blurb is minimalistic and provides all we need to know about the game, as well as a dash of blase humour.
Starting up, we’re plunged into things with our narrator, Lucy, complaining about the “leeches all over this poor little town”. The narrative voice is confident and comes across as effortlessly throwaway as Lucy throws out witticisms and self-deprecating comments – the kind of “effortless” prose that takes a lot of work to pare down.
I’m struck by the menu and inventory sections: this is unusual for a Twine game and puts me in mind of a puzzly setup. The menu helps solidify this impression with achievements, unlockables and multiple endings along with handy hints.
Getting stuck in: The prose continues to be minimalistic but has delightful touches like Lucy going on a self-deprecating riff about being judged for smoking. It turns out that Lucy usually acts as bait along with her more combative vampire hunting team members, and she’s been caught unawares. It’s her job now to remove this vampire from McDonalds before he eats the cashier, using a wide variety of ingenious tactics.
The game’s environment is small and self-contained, but with many items that can be interacted with, combined and used as in a parser or point-and-click adventure game. Some methods of removing the vampire are more complicated to work out than others, some are wonderfully goofy (I enjoyed flooding the room with ultraviolet light) and some I still haven’t managed to complete (my Biblical knowledge isn’t quite up to scratch). But the game by its nature is designed for replayability, providing autosaves, the ability to skip the pre-vampire passages, and generally being both efficient and fun to read.
Pros: Lucy is a delightful protagonist with a disaffected facade but a protective streak, and reminds me of a Bryan Fuller heroine. The game looks and plays simply, but this is not a negative: it does what it does very solidly and is very well put together. The achievements and unlockables make the player’s goals very clear, which for me is important for a puzzle game to be played multiple times, while not removing challenge altogether.
Cons: It’s hard to think of cons that aren’t a wishy-washy “I’m too much of a perfectionist” sort of comment. I’d like to see more of Lucy and her friends and I wasn’t able to finish everything in the two-hour judging limit, but that’s more of a pro since it’s made me keen to play more!
Overall: An excellent bite. Straightforward and effective.