Vampyr is a long awaited game from Dontnod Entertainment, the same people who brought us Life Is Strange. The look of the game is set in the early 1900’s England, post WWI. The setting is a dirty, spanish flu riddin town somewhere in Britain with a charming aesthetic of post industrial Europe. The actual graphics in the game, which are average to a little above average, are the same used in the cutscenes which could be seen as a bad thing and a good thing. On one hand there are games out there with breathtaking cutscenes and the lack such kind of makes the player feel that the experience is lost due to developer laziness, but on the other hand when games have completely different graphics for their actual gameplay in contrary to their games cutscenes, the immersion of the game is sort of lost.
The story revolves around the life of ex-military doctor Jonathan Reid, who shortly after arriving back to his home town becomes infected with vampirism by a vampire. Upon awakening, he is found by his sister Mary. Jonathan’s uncontrollable instincts for blood take over and lead to the death of his sister, by his very own actions. Jonathan begins a search for answers as to origins of his lust for blood, encountering Dr. Swansea who offers him board in an office at the Hospital. It is up to the player whether Jonathan becomes an uncontrollable, blood-thirsty vampire or an unfortunate soul fighting against primal vampirical urges.
The gameplay of Vampyr caters to distinct playstyles, bringing interest from all kinds of players. The player is given the option to either kill as many citizens as possible (yielding a lot of XP that aids in the progression of the skillset system, more on that later) or to try to save as many citizens as possible (as the killing of citizens can have big impacts on districts, that ultimately lead in the shortening of the storyline). Essentially there are two ways to approach Vampyr. Attempt to kill everyone and become an untouchable Vampire master or fight the urges to kill and face challenging boss fights with an under leveled skill set (aka the “Pacifist Run”, which does provide a really good challenge and an achievement as a cherry on top). There stands a middle ground between these two play styles, essentially creating a third, where the player can kill off citizens they believe will not have a major impact on the storylines progression (like deadbeats and such) to gain that highly coveted XP, making the boss fights much easier than they would be in the Pacifist Run, but not quite as breezy as killing off everyone. The necessity of XP is seen through the game’s skillset system adds, which adds a good touch of personalization to a player’s playstyle, allowing for focuses between combat or defense. The photo above shows all the different skill sets, each with their own unique skill tree. Perks are unlocked through the spending of XP points, noted in the top right of the UI. However, the customizability does not just end there! Throughout the world hides objects (like trash cans or boxes) that contain various upgrade parts (like springs or plastics) that are used to upgrade the player’s arsenal. The photo above demonstrates the different leveled tiers a player may encounter with a weapon (pictured with the “used hacksaw” as found fairly early in the game). Weapons, like hidden objects, can also be found and equipped. Let it be noted that the player has the opportunity to free roam the city and find all these weapons or other collectibles up until the end of Chapter 6, as Chapter 7 ends the game and does not allow free roam after completion.
It’s not hard to get lost in the story of Vampyr with the beautiful setting to the compelling story. The dialogue in the game can sometimes feel long winded but for the most part is interesting enough to keep one’s attention. The combat in the game is a little lackluster and could use some work, it feels clunky and even sometimes unfair in crucial moments, like the camera moving away from the enemy your character targeted when you’re in the middle of a fight. At some points throughout the game a few different glitches occurred from some of the player models going “stiffy mode” or “T pose” while running or not being able to talk to some of the NPC’s. Ignoring all of those somewhat small problems that resolved themselves, the game is a good time if you’re looking for a new take on an action role-playing game.
Vampyr excels when it comes to bringing fresh content into the gaming world. The replayability of Vampyr is fairly strong, as a player can see both ends of the spectrum with a pacifist playthrough and an unforgiving killer playthrough. The game stands just shy of a masterpiece, with a pretty hefty price tag of $60 for a single-player experience, though arguably worth its cost. Aside from the occasional glitch here and there and a semi-rough combat experience, Vampyr is certainly worth your bloody time.