Vampyr Game Review
Engaging story shaped by your own actions and inactions, Instead of dialogue choices
Room for quite different playthroughs
Some feel pop-in and framerate drops
Some quests follow a rather dull formula
Combat rarely feels exciting
About The Game
There is a fair bit of anticipation around Vampyr, another title by Life Is Strange creators DONTNOD. Following on from this narrative-driven experience, given how it blew up and become a tiny cult hit, was always going to be a thankless job and for those hoping Vampyr to be Life Is Strange, just Vampires’, you are likely to be left wanting.
Vampyr has more in common with Bioware’s package of RPGs than anything else. You play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, fresh back from the frontlines of World War I, who finds himself waking up from the dead as a blood-sucking vampire, and understandably, wants some answers. It’s a terrific setup — a person who has sworn an oath to assist those suddenly dealing with an insatiable thirst for their blood — and how you balance those two facets is a core component of their Vampyr experience.
Off the trunk, Vampyr says it is a challenging game. Enemy levels always look a bit higher than your own, meaning you’ve got to be more careful with every experience and use your newfound skills to handle them. Experience points permit you to level up these, gain more health and adhere to the regular RPG progression, but it is a slow procedure.
You can, however, drain some of the characters you encounter — quest givers, shopkeepers, even mission-critical ones — and their blood gives you a substantial experience boost. The richer the bloodstream, according to their social status, importance from the district and other aspects that you may effect with medication and information found on them through discussions, the more experience you get. Drain some of them and you will be able to power level Reid and discover the game a whole lot easier but at the price of possibly plunging a district into fear and insanity.
Illness and disease are rife throughout the districts you see — The Docks, Pembroke Hospital, Whitechapel and the West End — in Vampyr and Reid, as a physician, can craft medicines which may be given to individuals to curb this getting out of control. Left unchecked, ailments can spiral out of control and the condition of the district may plummet from stable to complete bedlam.
Every character, outside of those generic mobs which make up enemies, has a purpose on the planet. They have a title, relationships, family and, of course, secrets. Conversations can unlock the ability to ask more personal questions, and knowledge can assist with decision making within quests which affect them.
This also means that any time you take a life, your actions will have a shockwave effect across town. Just because somebody is a murderous scumbag, it does not mean that their death won’t matter. Sucking somebody’s blood might turn you into a strong vamp, and fight a whole lot easier, but it may make your life more difficult in different ways.
The London of 1918 looks superbly grim. Needless to say, you mostly see it during the night, because of Reid’s affliction, but the street lights cutting through the fog, framing the turn of the century architecture is excellent. Character models are equally comprehensive, but there is some occasional feel pop-in so occasionally conversations begin with someone looking a bit tough. The atmosphere adds to the narrative, as Reid hunts the town to discover what it is that happened to him delves into the vampire underworld. There is a hierarchy of those bloodsuckers and various types that you will encounter throughout.
The battle, which makes up an entire load of this game, is not anything to write home about. It is a fairly standard Dark Souls-inspired system, where you lock on to a goal and await your chance to attack. Stamina dictates whether your enemy can attack or defend, whilst your bloodstream meter is used for the various vampiric spells and skills. There’s a little bit of variation in the tree, but nothing as radical as, say, being able to generate an entire stealth construct, or improve your speechcraft, like in other RPGs. The tree here is essentially a whole lot of different attacks and fans that you use in battle and just start really feeling as a truly distinctive class in the higher levels.
Even though the core plot missions are adequate and maintain the game ticking over at a nice pace, the sidequests leave a lot to be desired. There is nothing like The Witcher 3’s’Bloody Baron’ here. A whole lot of the sidequests are you going into a’dungeon’ place, such as an abandoned warehouse or a sewer, killing a whole lot of enemies, handling a boss and coming back with an item. There’s not an enormous quantity of variety to them and they begin to drag quite fast.
Much like DONTNOD’s pre-Life Is Unusual name, Remember Me, Vampyr is just one really great idea attached to a completely serviceable video game. The battle is uninspiring but finally fine. The storyline is engaging, with some good voice acting and an exceptional score bringing 1918 London to life and the quests blow hot and cold, with a few pushing the story forward with a few thrilling moments and a lot being Vampyr’s version of this oft-ridiculed’Rat Hunt’. Managing disease from the districts, Reid’s inner moral struggle and how both of these may have a genuine influence on earth allows for some really different playthroughs, and is only a great enough idea — and crucially, implemented well enough — to maintain Vampyr up.
Vampyr may not be exactly what many desired after Life Is Strange, but it is still a fun — well, as enjoyable as its grim nature allows — match nonetheless. It follows the contemporary action RPG template almost to a fault, but the bureau the participant has in forming the districts by disease control and right up a murder is much more interesting than some of the moments in different games within the genre, where they present you a binary option that pushes the plot forward.
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