Vampyr is a new action RPG from the developers of the Life Is Strange series and futuristic action game Remember Me. In Vampyr you play as Dr Jonathan Reed who at the beginning of the game is attacked by a vampire inflicted him with the disease and giving him vampiric powers. The game is set in London in 1918 just after the First World War and during the Spanish flu epidemic where the city is in disarray.
The game is played in third person and features a range of melee, ranged weapons and vampire powers in the game’s combat. Combat plays like a healthy mix of Bloodborne, the Batman Arkham series and The Witcher 3. You have to dodge enemy attacks, wait for openings to get in your own attacks and use your powers which offer up close and ranged attacks with some causing status effects you can use to your advantage. The enemies, whether it’s vampire hunters who carry similar melee weapons, guns and cross bows, crazed feral Skal who have been inflicted with vampiric blood thirst but have lost their mind and will attack anything on sight clawing and biting you with quick attacks or werewolve-like Beasts who have similar attacks but are much larger and more powerful.
You can use your powers to attack a ranged enemy for example knocking them down and giving you a few seconds to attack the ones up close. Your dodge move allows you to quickly disappear and dash in any direction to avoid enemy attacks and close the gap between you and ranged enemies so you can take them out to stop them from shooting you from further away while you’re busy dealing with the up close enemies.
Defeating enemies and completing mission objectives will earn you XP which you spend at your Hideouts to level up your stats and abilities. This has similarities to Dark Souls and Bloodborne in that you can spend your XP to build the character you want and have to choose whether to level up health, stamina or the amount of damage dealt by your attacks for example. You have to unlock your powers with XP and choose which ones you want from a good range of offensive and defensive abilities dependant on your play style.
Blood Barrier for example will give you a shield for a short period of time before it recharges and you can use it again letting you take less damage while it is active. Claws deal a good amount of damage when you’re up close and will also give you more blood (which is basically your magic meter in this game). There’s also ranged powers like Blood Spear that lets you through a magic spear that will damage a group of enemies close together. Shadow Mist will cause an explosive magic attacks at your opponents feet dealing a lot of damage.
You also have Ultimate abilities that have a range of more powerful magic attacks from ones with a much more powerful explosion, one that lets you freeze an enemy in place allowing you to wail on them with swords and one that allows you to become enraged and causes high damage to a number of enemies in front of you.
The story sees you travelling across London trying to hunt down your maker, the vampire who gave you the disease so that you can seek your revenge and hopefully manufacture a cure from analysing his blood. The citizens of London all have their own stories to tell and you can talk to all of them with several dialogue options and some only become available after you’ve learned certain pieces of information from that character or one of their peers.
These story and dialogue options play similarly to Dontnod’s other game Life Is Strange and it is clear they have really improved their story telling abilities from developing that game. The story is very good and the dialogue and voice acting is very well done. The city is full of characters who have numerous lines of dialogue for you to listen to, often times tied to your current quest where you have to question the locals to find out where your next objective is.
You, as a lord of the dark, have the option to feast upon the citizens for a huge XP boost and you can see how much XP you will gain for munching on a person’s neck. The citizens of London are also very sick with a range of different illness and using the game’s crafting system you can cure what ails them, making their blood higher quality and giving you more XP if you kill them.
However, if you kill someone they are dead for good until your next playthrough and it will also affect the health of the area meaning it will fall into a further state of ruin and mean more enemies will appear there. So it is a trade-off but in my case I had went through half the game without killing anyone only to find myself facing enemies much too high level for me. So I went on a killing spree because it was unclear to me another way for me to level up that high so I would say in my experience it isn’t possible to get through the game without killing anyone but I’m sure others will find a way.
The game features several boss battles at various points in the story which I found challenging and very enjoyable if not very memorable to the point where on writing this review there isn’t really one that stands out for me or that I can remember the name of. They were good just not very memorable. And I think that could be said about the whole of the game’s story it was good enough that it kept me engaged and kept things moving along but wasn’t anything that I’m still going to be talking about after beating it. The same can be said for the combat while it is good and functional enough it lacks the nuance and satisfaction of some of the games it takes inspiration from and doesn’t really do anything truly astounding.
Vampyr is a good start for this new IP and there is certainly nothing wrong with it. It is very well made and enjoyable enough but doesn’t really do anything exceptional to stand out among peers in the action RPG genre bar it’s interesting setting and premise. The story is enjoyable enough and well produced but didn’t stay with may after the credits rolled.
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