Let the blood run through the streets of London, but will it be yours or your victims. In Vampyr you play as Dr. Jonathan Reid a surgeon, who was bitten and sent in to this hellish nightmare by someone unknown to him. Based in London in the early 1900s, the Spanish Flu has swept through its murky winding streets.
You start the game by seeing the good doctor lying in a pit of dead bodies as he tried to scramble his way out. Confused and unsure how he got there, he tries to put the pieces of events together to find out what has happened. As he walks forward he feels the hunger and lust for blood swell within him, until he meets his first victim and the hunger becomes too much and sinks his teeth right into her… After he has satisfied his hunger, the horror of what he has done becomes apparent; the victim is none other than his sister.
Vampyrs gameplay has a wide range of mechanics to it. You spend a lot of time chatting with London’s population, and clawing your way through the combat the breaks up the pace. The game sees you trying to control Dr. Reid’s lust for blood, while at the same time, living day to day as a surgeon. It’s a nice balance that DONTNOD has achieved, and for the most part works well. You also need to be mindful of your actions and choices while playing Vampyr. While out in the streets, you not only have to be weary of Vampire hunters, but there are others creatures out at night besides you, Skal. These Skal are very powerful and fully evolved monsters that kill and eat everything they come across.
With the choices in the game you can be either be an anti-hero that the people need, or you can be the next Ripper that everyone fears. Depending on your actions, the game will lead you off down a certain path. So choose wisely as there is little room for back stepping to try and alter a previous decision. This is definitely a strong point to Vampyr as it gives you plenty of replay value in terms of what paths you choose in the game through your play-throughs, if you choose. It adds a whole human element to the game, as you genuinely feel responsible if you chose the wrong path.
While the main quest is to find out what has happened to Dr. Reid and who gave him this curse/gift, there are side quests that you can venture on too. With Vampyr taking place at night-time, you are left to your own devices wandering the streets, when not tending to the sick at Pembroke Hospital. Each side quest will have you investigating and deducting an outcome for bonus XP and like everything else, there will be some pretty heavy decisions put before you. Each NPC in the game is basically like a XP bank, the more you engage with each one of them, the more XP you can drain from them if you choose to feed off them.
Vampyr is a RPG experience and like other RPG titles, you can use the XP you have earned to unlock some really interesting skills, which most them will help you during combat. These skills/abilities can be used for melee, weaponry or your Vampire like supernatural abilities. Of course, it’s the Vampire abilities that are the most satisfying to work with. Abilities like turning invisible in order to outwit the Vampire hunters seeking you out and killing you. While it may all sound very promising, it’s the combat that hinders the overall feel of the game, which is a shame, due to everything else is so refined and works so well.
While the combat doesn’t match up to the rest of the gameplay, it’s the conversations with the other characters in the game that holds most of the weight of the game. You need to find certain Intel to get deeper into a conversation, like finding letters or even chatting to other characters first, and then you can go back to your main character to finish off the conversation and reach its conclusion. The game encourages you to engage with the other characters you meet and not everyone is food, no matter how tempting that might be. More often, it’s just as easy to feast on the flesh of all the characters you come across, but it’s always better to chat to them and see what options lay out in front of you. Especially since the game can change for almost every choice bad or good you make throughout your play-through.
With the characters being so important, it’s also worth pointing out that the districts that the characters belong to, are also equally important. Each district has a very reputable member that does a great deal of good for their community/district. So everyone in that district respects them and looks up to them. So if you come along and decide to dine on their blood, it will affect that district, it can make the district difficulty increase as a result of your actions. If you decide to keep them alive, it can help you earn XP by killing enemies and completing quests. You will also come across safe houses in each district, these are important, as they let you rest and it’s here where you choose what do with your XP and equipment that you have collected from the dead and other locations about London. It’s also here where you can spend your XP on that must have skills and for those all-important weapon upgrades.
Vampyr is a fun game to play the more you get into the story and improving Dr. Reids killer appetite. While the game can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be, by way of going full on monster or being a hero. It’s not without its flaws, like the long loading times that pop up far too much that sometimes can ruin your immersion into the game. You will also find from time to time that the camera angles, especially during combat, can be frustrating due to how it moves awkwardly about as you fight and you can also spot some animation pop ins too. While these may be small issues to some, I felt it should be pointed out, as it was a bit off putting and shouldn’t have been a factor, since the rest of the game worked flawlessly.
Vampyr is a unique experience that has the dark atmosphere and setting that works well with the story and the main character. It’s a game that really lets you feel the weight of you choices and puts the burden of responsibility firmly on your shoulders. While the combat does suffer compared to that of the characters and story, it shouldn’t deter you from sinking your teeth into this dark and twisted tale.
* Review code supplied free of charge by Bastion UK/Focus Home Interactive *