Ever since it was announced, high expectations were set around DONTNOD and Focus Home Interactive latest game. Of course, I’m talking about the action RPG Vampyr. This game promised a story full of distinguished and alive characters while putting the focus on the decisions made by the player as a result of being constantly exposed to moral conflicts. The million dollar question now is… Did it deliver? Well, scroll down and find out.
Developed by DONTNOD
Published by Focus Home Interactive
Size: 14.21 GB
Genre: Action RPG
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro, also available on Xbox One and PC.
London, 1918. A city ravaged by a mysterious wave of crimes and devastated by the Spanish flu. The main character and newcomer, also expert in blood transfusions and eminence among professional colleagues is Dr. Jonathan Reid, who comes to the city with a totally different reason to the one that ends up facing.
Throughout cutscenes, it is revealed that he is attacked and transformed into a vampire. From then on, he will have to face a total moral nightmare; having to choose between helping and healing London citizens, or satisfying his unstoppable urge of thirst for blood one bite at a time.
In order to avoid major spoilers, I’ll conclude this section by saying that, overall, Reid’s quest will follow the seek of information and vengeance.
The game takes place in four different districts of the city of London, characterized by being a semi-open world. Due to this, exploration is possible for the player but is often limited by the plot or insurmountable obstacles. Besides enjoying the vistas, the only other real purpose for exploring are collectibles, found in game as letters, which will expand Vampyr’s lore. Hideouts can also be encountered throughout the world, giving the player access to level up, crafting, and ammo replenishment.
Like any other good RPG game out there, Vampyr offers mechanics such as the acquisition of new skills that makes up for a stronger and evolved version of the Doctor, through an exchange of experience. The way to obtain most of this experience is a quite clever one; with the blood of the NPCs. Here’s where the game shines in its unique way; if you attempt a pacifist run (which is a confirmed possibility by the developers), you’ll definitely most likely end up feeling weak as you progress through the story, especially during combat with higher level enemies or on any Boss fight.
As a doctor, you can use your medical knowledge to your advantage. Every NPC has a popup window showing blood quality -or, in other words, the amount of XP provided- and current condition. Those suffering from a particular disease can be healed and therefore get their blood quality (aka experience you can get) raised. But remember, if you want to bank that XP, the NPC will have to die, resulting in a possible side mission cancelation on a near future.
In order to heal yourself or NPCs, you will need to search and gather the loot scattered all around paper bins, drawers, enemy drops… you name it. Then, later on, use these chemical components to craft medical treatments or serums both for the healing purposes mentioned previously. Besides chemical components, there’s a chance you get certain objects that can be used (or broken into smaller parts) with the aim of crafting weapon upgrades, therefore raising weapon stats.
If you think about it, the game idea absolutely original for a Vampire game; although the combat feels good (I will discuss more on this soon) the main strength without a doubt is the narrative experience provided. The way so many stories are related and connected to each other, some being simple but effective ones, others being more elaborated but each and every one being interesting. As I said, that might seem weird, uncommon for a game that has a Vampire as the main character but it definitely works. This risky approach is a huge win after all.
Now, into combat. Vampyr combat relies on a standard system, which will feel familiar for some. You have a health, stamina and blood bar, and your offensive options are one/two hand weapons and firearms. Each enemy has a certain weakness and you must take advantage of it. Perform quick dashes to avoid hits and drain your stamina, use acquired abilities or finishers to make the fight easier and get your blood bar drained too, but no worries, bitting enemies on mid-fight will recover your blood bar.
In my opinion, the combat could have used a bit more depth, but it’s quite good as it is. Enemy encounters won’t feel punishing as long as the enemies are not over-leveled, and the only challenge you’ll find are boss fights for the most part.
Graphics And Sound
Vampyr graphics are pretty satisfying overall. London looks great, as well as the citizens and enemies that can be found in each district. As for the ambience, I must say it’s really immersive; nights have enough amount of dark, feeling eerie and spooky. The scenario blends itself nicely, having, as a result, a totally fitting location and setting for the main plot.
The game had no performance issues at all during my playthrough, which is pretty considerate for a game nowadays.
The soundtrack is actually quite good; I believe most people will enjoy it just like I did. The general score theme fits the environment and overall, sound fx are satisfying. As for voice acting, it’s top notch, even although some facial movements weren’t properly accompanied.
Vampyr honestly surprised me, in a very positive way. Despite its slow start, the plot quickly becomes intriguing, making the player care about it, and sometimes stop and think about possible consequences before performing a particular action. The original concept, good combat, immersive ambience and great soundtrack makes for a pleasant experience and a change of pace.
I can safely say Vampyr sure delivers on its promise.