From the folks that brought you Life Is Strange, comes a gloomy vampire-simulator game, Vampyr. We’ve been waiting for such a game ever since the hidden gem that was Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Let’s take a look at what Vampyr has to offer.
Vampyr is an Action RPG and is set in a sickness-plagued London of the early 1900s, post the Great War. You play as Dr. Reid, a well renowned surgeon who specialises in blood transfusions. Well, that was before he becomes a vampire. Which is how the game starts, with Reid waking up as a vampire. We also hope you see the irony here.
Right off the bat, the story does a good job of getting you hooked. We were already invested, and the theme and setting all worked together fantastically. Dontnod Entertainment did a fantastic job of creating a Gothic and gloomy London. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering their previous projects.
After experiencing what it feels like to wake up as a vampire, which wasn’t really a very pleasant experience, we find ourselves employed at a hospital thanks to a fortunate turn of events and a very helpful stranger. Night shift of course. Sunlight is still definitely bad for us.
It is at this hospital that we start learning more about ourselves and our abilities, as we research further into our “condition” while playing doctor, well not playing, we actually are doctors in this case, to the citizens of the plague-ridden city.
Like one would expect from a game with the RPG tag, there are several choices to be made at several points in the game. However, the story of the game is very much linear with an illusion of choice. There were times when we would have liked to do something differently, but none of the options available to us would give us a different outcome or let us do things differently.
The game uses a checkpoint system. There’s no quicksaving before decisions or boss fights. This is not necessarily a bad thing, at least according to us, but we can see why a lot of people might not like this. We’ll get into why exactly in a bit.
The vampyr’s embrace
In Vampyr, you can “embrace” just about anyone. By embrace, we mean feed on. NPCs you feed on die. And the game warns you that embracing someone could have consequences for you and the district. This is usually enough to make anyone think twice before they embrace anyone, unless of course, they’re power hungry maniacs. Now here’s the thing, the game has no difficulty setting, instead, the difficulty is determined by you. If you feed more, you will be significantly stronger. However, don’t feed and you’ll find yourself having a very difficult time with foes as you progress. Remember how we talked about checkpoints? So if you decided to make a hard choice or feed on someone (even accidentally), there’s no going back. This might turn some away, but we think this is a plus.
There are various aspects to the gameplay in Vampyr. For the most part, you’ll be running around the maze that is London, talking to people and looking for hints and clues. You have vampire vision, so as long as anything has blood, you can see it, regardless of any structure or building that may be in the way. Of course, you also notice blood spatters on the ground and such, which you will use to track people, or things. You can analyse evidence at your crafting table back in your office at the hospital to further your research and investigation. This is also where you create medicine for sick citizens and upgrade your weapons. The crafting system is pretty meh.
Every district has a health rating, which you can help improve. During your investigation, you will come across ailing citizens. You can purchase medicine recipes from vendors and craft them at a crafting table if you have the necessary materials. Provide citizens with medication and the health rating goes up. Feed on someone and it drops.Additionally, improving a citizen’s health increases the amount of ‘Blood XP’ you’d get from them if you were to feed on them.
Combat in Vampyr is actually decent. You actually have choice in how you wish to approach combat. You have an additional meter under your stamina bar which represents ‘Blood’. This is consumed to use vampire abilities. Blood can be acquired in the middle of fights by stunning and biting enemies, or feeding on rats during your travels, or people if you want, or there are weapons and upgrades that will give you blood points on-hit.
There is, of course, a skill tree. The abilities you can acquire work well together and there’s a flow to combat. But keep in mind that getting the best abilities will require a lot of Blood XP, which means a lot of feeding, so if you’re trying to play the good guy, you probably won’t be unlocking the majority of the tree. You can take down enemies at higher levels than you are at, which they will be most of the time if you’re going the good guy route. You might die several times, but at no point would an enemy feel unbeatable. The game’s UI was also a tad confusing. We didn’t know where or how to switch weapons and such at first.
Vampyr – The Verdict
What we loved about Vampyr was how it put you in a dilemma, or in the shoes of a newly born vampire who doesn’t have ill-intent. It tempts you, the only way to get stronger is to feed, but at the same time warns you that there will consequences to indiscriminate feeding. Or any feeding at all for that matter. Every NPC you encounter seems to have a backstory which impacts the game. Depending on how important the NPC, the more significant the impact. Do you give in to the beast within and seek power, or do you restrain yourself from throwing away your last strands of humanity?
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Price: Rs. 1999
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Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.