Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Windows (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: DontNod Entertainment
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Action RPG/Horror
Rating: Mature (17+)
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What would you do if one day you awoken in a mass grave with a feeling of bloodlust and hunger but had no clue why?
That is exactly what happened to Dr. Jonathan Reid as, upon his arrival back to England from the Great War of 1918. His sudden urges and hunger lead him to an innocent victim whose life he takes as he sucks her blood from her veins to oppress his urges. As he comes to his senses he realizes the grave mistake he has just made…that poor innocent victim happens to be none other than his sister. Adding guilt and sorrow to the mix, Dr. Reid must find the cause of his current state as well as deal with his new and unexpected supernatural talents and abilities.
“Vampyr” is set in an alternate London where a deadly case of the Spanish flu has been sweeping the nation and vastly affecting the population count in the city. The story introduction provides you with a brief synopsis regarding some of your abilities. You now have superhuman strength and agility, deadly claws and fangs but you must feed off of enemies or civilians that you encounter.
You are quickly discovered by some soldiers who seem to know of you kind and seek to put you out of your misery before you realize what is going on. Combat is kind of choppy and I was confused as to what exactly I should be doing as well as how to feed to regenerate health. It took a few deaths to realize I should just run away and not try to stand and fight. Throughout the game, combat never really seems to get any better. Usually you’re just constantly dodging, trying to feed to restore health quickly or waiting for your powers to regenerate. The game also has a habit of constantly respawning defeated enemies in every part of the game that you encounter. With the combat being so tedious and repetitive, this drags the game down as it takes away from the best part of the game…the story.
The combination of turn of the century London, supernatural creatures such as vampires and werewolves as well as the fact that you are indeed a doctor who has taken an oath never to take a life (except for the hundreds of enemy soldiers that you apparently kill throughout the game), adds an interesting dynamic to the game. Will you disregard your former life as a sworn protector and healer or will you embrace your new powers and abilities no matter the consequences? “Vampyr” does a great job of providing difficult choices that affect how the story unfolds. As you gain more abilities when leveling up, take mesmerize for example: do you guide that sorry thug to a dimly lit alley and take his life in order to gain large amounts of XP or do you provide him with medicine from limited resources because everyone deserves a second chance and a new lease on life? These are some of the dilemmas that you’ll face as you progress.
Leveling up in “Vampyr” must be done in a safe house or current living quarters. Doing so opens up a plethora of abilities and stat bonuses that tailor to your gameplay style. Do you want to be tougher or regenerate health more quickly or do you want to add points into stealth or just go full powerhouse murder machine? The choice is yours and yours alone! I built my character more geared towards stamina and longevity. I was able to gain more health quicker and bite much faster in order to stay in the battle while dodging until the right opportunity arose to strike and dodge some more.
“Vampyr” as a whole is a great concept with a lot of content to be discovered if you like…or not. Implementing the things in between the start and finish were hit and miss with such things as combat and graphics but the story was always riveting and your choices have major ramifications as you progress throughout the game. There are steep and unnecessary difficulty spikes at certain points of the game and constant enemy respawns bog things down more often than not but when you sift through those faults, at heart “Vampyr” is an intriguing action/RPG horror game that does well to set the mood in turn-of-the-century London as the city is on the brink of total chaos. Not only do the Bram Stoker influences show through but there are touches of Lovecraftian lore evident as well.
If you’re looking for something to set the mood this Halloween season, “Vampyr” will spook you with its setting, frighten you with its combat system and haunt you with the difficult choices that you will have to make throughout. It’s one of the best vampire games in recent memory and I promise you that it does indeed bite!