Vampyr is brought to us by Dontnod Entertainment who have also brought us Life is Strange and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. This Action/Role playing title is set just after The Great War in the early 20th Century. Britain is not only trying to deal with the aftermath of The Great War but the country is also crippled by the devastating Spanish Flu. London is riddled with disease, violence and fear. This in turn creates a troubled atmosphere within the dark industrial city of London where it’s residents also live in fear and confusion of an even more sinister foe, Vampires.
From this dark backdrop you emerge as a Jonathan Reid, a former high ranking military surgeon, who has been transformed into a vampire upon his return to London after the war. Confused by what you have become you proceed on your mission to discover how and why this has happened to you whilst trying to unravel just what is going on in the city.
As you explore the dark and poverty ridden streets of London you will encounter various friends and foes along the way that will not only aid Jonathan in his quest for knowledge but will also enhance his abilities. You engage in melee and ranged shooting combat as you wander the streets with various knives, guns, and blunt instruments within your arsenal, but you will also unlock various types of Vampiric powers as you gain more Experience (XP). You gain XP in a variety of ways and this is were I think the game is the most intriguing and more importantly, fun. As you move through the districts of London you will interact with several colourful characters. Through the questioning of these characters you gain more knowledge about them and this will unlock side missions in which you gain XP from and improve the quality of their blood. Each district has a different set of characters and many of them are linked to each other within the district.
Now once you get to a certain level you unlock the ability to mesmerise and then ’embrace’ (bite & kill) these characters to gain XP from them. However, you have to be careful when deciding who to embrace as this can have a knock on effect throughout the district. For example, embracing someone who is crucial to the district could result in everyone in the district dying and you have then lost the chance to pick a few of them off to gain more XP in that area. This aspect of the game is what makes Vampyr so unique for me and really fun, if not addictive. I spent hours walking round just chatting to different characters in order enrich their blood for better XP and then trying to decide who I should embrace. In fairness, I definitely made some mistakes along the way by embracing the wrong person and everyone in the district died. Each decision you make can effect how the story plays out for you which is always interesting and increases the chances of you wanting to play again and make different decisions to see how it all plays out.
The music and voice acting is brilliant in this game as it all adds to the atmosphere and immersion in the game. The dark and ghostly tones of the music fits perfectly with the time period and supernatural nature of the subject matter. All of the characters are from different races and backgrounds and they are played out amazingly well. The graphics are stunning too, both in the gameplay and within the movie sequences. Don’t get me wrong the difference between gameplay vs. movie sequence is quite different but not so different you lose the immersion or enjoyment of the game.
The only slight grumble I had is sometimes whilst a character was talking they would keep making the movements and hand gestures even though it didn’t fit with the dialogue, but to be honest I just found this funny.
I’d liken both the combat and conversation dynamics to that of something like Witcher 3. In terms of combat it’s very much your usual hack and slash style, and you have a health bar, blood and stamina bars. The Blood enables your vampire attacks and the stamina will be reduced by what action you’re taking and obviously only replenishes through rest or you can use syringes to carry on fighting. The engine for the conversations is very similar to Witcher 3 and every response to an interaction can result in a different outcome.
During conversations with the characters they will reveal ‘hints’ which can be information about other people or reveal side missions. This then gives you the option to open a new line of questioning with another character or a side mission to complete. Side missions will give you instant XP while new lines of conversation helps to increase the XP within that characters blood. Another way to impact a characters blood quality is by assessing their health and then giving them treatment to again improve the quality of their blood, Jonathan is a doctor after all. As well as crafting weapons and potions, you can also craft medicines to heal the sick characters that you interact with.
One of the only flaws I can point my finger at with this game is getting to grips with everything you can do. It may just have been me but I felt like your usual tutorial you get with every game nowadays was a bit thin and it was hard to grasp how you could use everything to your advantage. For example, I had been playing the game for a long time before I realised how to activate the side quests. During a conversation, a character will give you a clue to an item to go and collect or a place to go and investigate, but there wasn’t a clear ‘go and look here’ message. It wasn’t for a long time until I noticed a tab on the pause menu that showed you all the side missions you had unlocked and were able to select. This annoyed me a little because it just gave me that feeling we all have had in the past with games like this,’Oh I get it now, aaww now I want to start again as I could have levelled up some much quicker’.
If this title has passed you by and you’re looking for something a bit different to play, I would definitely recommend Vampyr. Especially if you enjoy games like Skyrim or as I have said before Witcher 3. My favourite Assassins Creed is Syndicate and I think that is mostly to do with the era and the location. That was what drew me towards this title, and it didn’t disappoint. The story is intriguing, and the gameplay leads you to wanting to uncover more. Any game that gives you that ’cause and effect’ style decision making is always great for interest and longevity. For me this helps to eliminate the I’ll only play it once feeling even if you enjoyed it the first time round. You want to play again and differently to see what happens and that can only add to the games value. It looks and sounds great and has a good story. Also, trying to decide if you are a good or bad person or vampire is great fun.
So go ahead, Embrace the Vampire within, stalk and eat your prey, but remember choose wisely or it may come back to bite you!