The mythical tale of vampires has transcended many decades, going back hundreds of years and still continues to resonate with us in modern times. Just what is this fascination with vampires? What makes them so intriguing that so many would create a game solely based around one? Well, for one, they’re still very much human beings but harness supernatural abilities that allow them to take down enemies simply by consuming their blood. Not only that but vampires are immortal meaning that despite how many times someone tries to take them down, they just regenerate and come back for more.
So this brings us to Dontnod and Focus Home Interactive’s latest vampire action RPG titled Vampyr, a title that boasts a lot of great content and takes a lot of inspiration from various titles like Dark Souls, Fallout and Until Dawn to create a very compelling experience. Vampyr isn’t just about running around and biting the necks of any victim you encounter, there’s an element of strategy that must be enforced because for every action you choose to conduct, there’s a consequence that comes along with it. There’s a strong sense of mystery that’s involved and you’re sort of a vampire detective who must come to learn of the evils that lie awake in the shadows, while also coming to accept ones down inner demons along the way.
What to Expect
Vampyr is a game about choice and consequence meaning that everything you do in the game comes with a price. Knowing how to properly persuade people into giving you the right clues can be a challenging ordeal, since once you make a decision there’s no turning back. The dialogue will keep going and you’ll have to deal with the outcome and see where it takes you. There are no strings attached in the game which is what really supports the overall premise of Vampyr which is, do whatever you please but know that what goes around comes around. Karma is everything and if you poke fun at it, then you’ll most likely feel its wrath at some point in the game. As mentioned earlier, Vampyr takes inspiration from a wide variety of titles and creates a unique and satisfying experience. The battle system takes some notes from Dark Souls in which your stamina bar must have enough meter in order for you to attack and use moves in succession. Some weapons will of course consume more stamina and so, through playing you’ll need to decide which weapons are best suited for the scenario you’re in. Instead of the roll mechanic to evade enemy attacks, you of course harness the ability to teleport or shadow dash away from the enemy which will allow you to create the right openings when necessary.
When you’re in need of more powerful weapons, this is where the workbench comes into play and once again, it takes inspiration from Fallout in that regard. Anytime you come across items in the game, whether they be rare or common, you take those to your hideout and create powerful weapon upgrades, potions to cure various ailments, among other things. Vampyr is a game that’s versatile in its approach and always feels invigorating with every new encounter you discover. Let’s dive more into what makes Vampyr a worthwhile title to buy, while noting some areas that we feel need a little more work if the team ever decides to make a sequel (which we think they should).
Vampyr’s setting takes place in 20th century Britain, where the massive outbreak of the Spanish Flu has devastated major towns and cities, with fear and violence on the rise. However there lies another problem and those are the Vampires who lay awake at night, waiting for some unsuspecting fool to walk outside during the late hours to grab a quick bite. Sadly, you, Jonathan D. Reid, a celebrated doctor in the world of blood transfusion has succumb to the attacks of a mysterious Vampire and now you’ve become one of the greater evils. With this new ability under your belt and most of the town hungry to see that you die at the stake, you must learn to conceal your truth while still trying to help others, inquire more about the outbreaks, while using strong intuition to uncover who’s behind it all.
The longer you play Vampyr, the more intriguing everything gets because it no longer is just about the blood sucking and skill tree upgrading, but there’s also a great deal of contemplation that you’ll need to do since communication is imperative to progression. We say this in two ways, one because in order to gather intel, you’ll need to talk with every important and unimportant person you encounter, as they may have information you seek. On the other hand, you’re a Vampire and blood is a necessity to live, so there are times where you’ll need to embrace someone and remove them from the picture. In doing so, however, you place a great deal of pressure on the town but also yourself, since your actions determine the fate of the town you’re in. For example, in Pembroke Hospital, there a lot of sick patients and corrupt nurses that wander the halls. Picking and choosing your battles becomes a tricky ordeal because if you kill one person who you perhaps assumed wasn’t a valuable asset, you’ll come to learn down the road that in fact they were. We encourage you to talk to as much people as you can because even those who may seem out of place, they often provide pivotal hints that help unlock new directions in the narrative.
This is truly the most fruitful feature of Vampyr because throughout the game there are so many people that you’ll come across, all of which have their own agenda and you’ll need to use keen evaluation as to whether they need to perish or not. Once you find yourself engaged in battle, a lot of the fun takes place, since it helps to take your mind off all the thinking. Enemies in Vampyr are incredibly acute to your actions and even one small sound such as mistakenly swinging your weapon will attract the attention of the Skal. The Skal are the deranged and corrupt Vampires of the night who feed on victims and throughout the game, you’ll discover more creepy looking enemies that will put you to the test. For the most part, every enemy will react differently to your actions and so it creates this very unpredictable scenario every time. No one pattern will ever allow you to win consistently and so you’ll need to mix up a lot of your attacks by using brute force, or guns, or special attacks that take off a great deal of life in exchange for high stamina use. When you find yourself in a tight squeeze and are low on serum to heal, this is where your skills become very important to survival.
Unlike the workbench which allows you to craft rare items, weapons and serum to aid you in battle, lying down on the bed gives you the chance to evolve and this is where you’ll need to spend a lot of time on. Each skill you have is divided into different sections such as bite, blood, tactical, etc. Knowing your own playstyle will certainly be of great benefit but as we said before, falling into a pattern could do more harm than good. So when evolving, take into account the enemies you’ll be dealing with and focus on healing early on. Big damage of course is just as important but if you die too fast then it defeats the purpose. To evolve faster, you’ll need to take the lives of a lot of people but of course, that will cost you down the road. So ultimately, Vampyr is all about balance and using your intuition to guide you. Put yourself in the shoes of Dr. Reid as you play and the game starts to feel all the more real. The tension starts to accumulate and every dark corner you come across raises a hair on the back of your neck, because you know there’s something waiting to lurch out and attack.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Vampyr has some wicked voice acting and it truly helps create a strong sense of authenticity, especially when the setting is in 20th century Britain. The ambience is gritty and unforgiving, everyone is in disarray with a fear of them being next, and you’re in the midst of it all trying to sort things out. That very authenticity is what truly makes Vampyr stand out and makes the gameplay all the more fascinating. The weapons, the serums, even the clothing that characters wear all compliment that era down to a tee and we loved that very much. We didn’t really have that much of a problem with the battle mechanics as they felt relatively smooth and didn’t cause any hiccups during important encounters.
The crafting system is deep enough that you could come up with some cool upgrades for weapons, but nothing too far fetched as to rob you of the experience. The evolve system is very straightforward and doesn’t steer you in all sorts of directions which is also a plus. You have the freedom of choice and the narrative is incredibly well done that you just get so absorbed in it all without even noticing. One really cool aspect, and perhaps this is a small thing, that we loved is how you could toggle the camera during certain scenes, giving you this sort of director feel. It helped to evoke more emotion at times when the camera would only focus on one character, but hey this is just our inner artist talking. The only gripe we had was just some character animations felt stiff and lip synching could’ve used a bit more fine tuning but aside from that, Vampyr doesn’t suck. Well, it does but only blood.
Attention to detail is on point!
Really enjoyed the choice and consequence mechanic that adds a lot more emotion and intensity to the game.
The game is long (20-30 hours) which is satisfying. Go at your own pace.
The evolve system was well done along with the crafting mechanic.
Questioning people is always fun.
Lip synching felt off at times.
Character animations felt stiff.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Focus Home Interactive has been on a roll as of late, with The Council just releasing not too long ago and that game providing an experience of its own. Vampyr shares that same spotlight as the two games share some similarities in regards to choosing the right words to say, and having to deal with your choices later. What makes Vampyr just more compelling is that you have the action RPG element thrown in to give players something more to do than just talking to people all the time. Nothing wrong with that of course but allowing players the freedom to do whatever they please but still remind them that karma is around is thrilling.
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!