Vampyr – PC Review

AlexKnight2005
Latest posts by AlexKnight2005 (see all)

Genre: Action, RPG
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: Jun 4, 2018
Edited by Thorstag

Made by Dontnod Entertainment, this would be the second time the studio would make a game outside of its “Telltale” style adventure game, leaping forward into a more adventure RPG. You start out walking the streets of London hearing a strange voice as you are bitten and drained of your blood, cast away as your corpse is thrown into a mass grave only to wake up confused and muddled while your sight is monochromatic. As you stagger through the streets unbeknownst to you, you have drained your sister that has been searching for you all night.

The setting is London, 1918, and the Spanish flu plagues the city, you play as a doctor coming back from the war named Dr. Johnathan Reid. As a newly born vampire grieving over your sister and guilt-ridden conscience, you are determined to find who your maker is as you fight vampire hunters, the ghoul-like creatures called Skals, other rogue vampires, and other creatures of the night. The fighting mechanics of the game can be described as Souls-like in its approach with its stamina bar that depletes with each attack and the dodging action. Though it does use a lot of the same mechanics it has some differences as well, such as your character passively regenerates slowly out of battle, if your character gets hit heavily or is hit with one of his vampiric weaknesses (i.e., fire or sunlight) your max life will be reduced until you drain some blood of your enemy or when you use an ability to heal.

While you are going through the narratives of this game, you will have choices that you will have to make and the unfortunate consequences that come with it. While not every conversation will be profoundly important, it is, however, still useful because it could bring side quests and experience points along with it. As the story progresses, your character makes it his mission to solve the mystery of this new strain of Spanish flu and to hunt down the maker that has turned him into the creature that he is now. When you discover citizens of London and learn of their secrets and quirks their blood quality increases, maxing this out will require a lot of talking to them and those associated with them as well as keeping them healthy if they have any illnesses with the medicines you have made with the basic materials you find in the game.

As a vampire, you can expect the drinking of blood, outside of the creatures and the vampire hunters you can “mesmerize” one of the townsfolk, having him or her follow you into a dark alleyway in the shadows embracing them and draining them dry giving you a massive amount of EXP to evolve your vampire. The downside of attacking townsfolk is when you do the state of the community goes down permanently. This reduction allows the Spanish flu to spread throughout a part of the community. If the sickness spreads too much, the community goes into a state of chaos, affecting the ending of the game. If the player decides to consume the blood of one of the pillars of the community the experience gained is enormous, but that sector of London will always be unstable and prone to be thrown into chaos at any time.

As experience is gained, you can put your EXP into increasing your max health, stamina, or blood, unlocking unholy powers such as a blood spear, clawing at your enemy for massive melee damage, or a blood shield to name a few. Each time you evolve at a bed you sleep till the next night, as you jump to the next one the actions that you did the previous night process and London will change according to what you have done (i.e., Medicines you give the townsfolk take effect, other townsfolk get sick, and important mainline quests affect the community).

The ambiance of the game is spot on, with orchestrated string instruments depicting the dark tones of the game and the desperation of the townsfolk. When there is an intense moment in the game, it does not shy away from your heavier sounding instruments making the player feel that their next decision is a pivotal one. Speaking of decision making the game autosaves immediately when one is made making it impossible to load the game after you make one making you feel responsible for your actions, it even states this in the loading screen saying “Take responsibility for your actions.” As for the voice acting of the characters, their accent is spot on for the times and the location of the game with an immersive narrative that will make you feel that you are Dr. Johnathan Reid.

As for your weaponry and your items, there is a decent collection of them but for the person that strives for the best ending will never get half of them because they are only obtainable by “embracing” citizens and taking their life and their contents of the chest that they have. Since this is the only way of getting good equipment, your left with used equipment that is sub-par and a few late-game weaponry at the end such as the true Dragonbane which is challenging to obtain by collecting every piece of “collectibles” that take an extensive amount of time to do. Though the customization of the weapon’s bonuses are beneficial even with the limited weapons you have if you do so choose to go for the “best ending” the enemies can be very difficult on normal or hard modes. You can definitely feel the strength difference when not embracing any of the citizens, especially at the end of the game where your level is around lower 20’s and the enemy is 10 levels higher, I can only assume they have done this scaling to make the player have the urge to embrace a citizen or two, giving into their bloodthirst; if this is indeed their intention I want to applaud them for the immersion of the character.

For the replayability aspect of the game its kind of lacking because once you have played the game the only thing that you could do is a harder difficulty or if you haven’t already got the best ending in the game and combining the two would test any veteran of the game of their skills and patience since it only takes a few hits to kill your character. When it comes to the setting, you can feel the desperation of the citizens that try to crawl their way through life as well as the posters all around town making the player feel like they have dived into the early 20th century and the plague that is around you. 

For my first experience with a Dontnod game has been very pleasurable painting a picture of how the life of a vampire is and the temptations that come with it. That being said, there are still some quirks to the game that could be improved, such as the number of citizens getting sick so often after evolving. I’ve experienced one night where ALL of London got sick and going for the best ending i spent a bit less than two hours healing every single person (besides the pillars of the community) it would be a good suggestion to add a feature where you can “mail” the prescription to the citizen from your doctors office so that it would not consume as much time rather than going to community to community finding every person that is ill and cure them.

Pros:

  • A wonderful narrative that will keep your attention and wanting more
  • Your choices do matter and not just there to make you feel you have control
  • Stunning voice acting and graphics
  • Many ways to fight as a creature of the night that caters to your playstyle
  • Deeply immersive making you feel that you are the character and in the setting

Cons:

  • Keeping up with the citizens’ health can be quite tedious or downright annoying
  • Half of the weaponry is locked away unless you embrace a citizen or two (or 20)
  • At times the narrative can become quite lengthy, taking away from the pace of the game

AlexKnight2005 gives Vampyr a Drastik Measure of 8.5 out of 10 (85)

Now for the price that it asks for (Currently at $40 from the date of this review), I would have to say for the 33 hours of gameplay that I have played, I would gladly give the sale price that it asks for. Even if the game is a bit short in replayability and the content a bit less lengthy for my taste it is well worth the story and its adaptability of how you play the character with your unique fighting style to the choices you make, as a person that enjoys games that deal with the supernatural this is a must-have! You can pick it up on Steam.