Dontnod Entertainment quickly shot up in the rankings in terms of video game developers after the insanely successful Life is Strange released in 2015. A game that had me emotionally invested from start to finish and had me on the edge of my seat, I often wondered what they would tackle next, besides the obvious sequel. When it was announced that they were working on a game known as Vampyr, an action roleplaying game, my hype level was through the roof. Would they be able to pull out something great after coming off of Life is Strange?
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed On: PC
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Game Purchased for the Sake of This Review
Set in 1918 in an alternate version of London where the supernatural and vampires can exist, you play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a combat field medic just returning from the War and a renown specialist in the work of blood transfusions. The opening dialogue and scenes depict Dr. Reid arriving home to visit his ill mother, only to be attacked by a vampire and left for dead. Awakening in a sea of bodies thrown in a giant mass grave, the only thing on his mind is the thirst for blood, and he attacks the first person he comes across. From there, Vampyr becomes a tale of managing the thirst and the compassion of human lives. How you ultimately choose to play the game will shape your version of London drastically different from anyone else.
Gameplay is a mixture of exploration, investigation, and combat. Throughout most of the journey, you’ll be exploring the back alleys and streets of London on your way to the next major mission objective. Along the way, you will bump into several Skals (vampire-like creatures) and Vampire Hunters that want nothing but to see you dead… for real.
When entering into combat, you can choose to get in close and use your preferred melee weapon, or stand back at range with a pistol or shotgun. There are two handed weapons which can be utilized as well for a lot more damage, but at the cost of being a lot slower to attack and potentially an easier target. It’s a nice balance with a few oddities about it. Combat never feels as fluid as I was hoping for, and it always seemed just a bit off when it came to dodging or moving around the enemies.
Being an RPG, leveling up and gaining experience is a crucial part of the experience in Vampyr. Your experience will decide which skills you invest in and how powerful you can become as a creature of the night. The skills you can unlock will focus on blood as a mechanic. The more blood you have banked, the more skills you’ll be able to unleash before needing to restock. How do you restock? Simple. Feed on the living! Or.. if you’re going for a passive playthrough, you can also feed on the rats. But they don’t give nearly as much blood as a live human would.
Skills vary from ones that allow you to heal yourself, warping quickly to an enemy so they don’t have a chance to hit you, blood spears that erupt from your body and hit targets in front of you, and bloody explosions which damage all surrounding enemies. You’ll definitely want to go through the individual skills and see what type of vampire you want to create on your playthrough so that you invest in the appropriate skills first.
The other side of the gameplay, which is the investigations and conversations, are a much better experience than the exploration and combat side of things. This is most likely due to Dontnod Entertainment’s strengths after coming off of Life is Strange. Every named NPC in the world is very important to the story and this fictional version of London. If you feed on one of them and kill them off early, you are potentially missing out on a ton of story content, side quests, and items which that person may have unlocked through dialogue or individual quests in later chapters. It definitely adds a bit of strategy to the game.. because is it really worth feeding on a person if there’s a chance to get a powerful item or rewarding quest in the future? That’s a decision you’ll have to make when playing through the game!
The cast of characters alongside Dr. Jonathan Reid are all extremely fleshed out and interesting. You want to help these people in this dire situation. You want to get to know them better. I felt invested to do the side quests I stumbled across because I wanted more from this world. It’s just a shame that every time I would get sucked in to the story, I’d almost immediately get pulled back out by the jankiness of the combat whenever moving from one location to the next.
In all, Vampyr is an interesting game that walks a fine line between being average and being good. When conversing with NPC’s and going out on investigations, the game is really good. When engaging in combat and trying to move around from one area to another, the game is average at best. It’s unfortunate, because Vampyr shows a lot of promise, and there’s a lot to enjoy in this 15 to 20 hour experience. If you were at all remotely interested in the game leading up to its release, give it a chance. If you were on the fence or just didn’t care, then it’s probably skippable.
7.0 / 10