Thursday, 21 June 2018 13:35

REVIEW: Vampyr (Xbox One)

Written by StacefaceMayhem
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If you keep up with my reviews, you will know two things about me at least; 1. I am a pussy for scary games, and 2. I love, love, love RPGs. However I also have a deep fascination for anything with deep, mythical lore and atmospheric, gritty history, so ‘Vampyr’, seemed the logical next title to add to my collection. Looking like it was set in the sewered cobbled streets that Jack the Ripper would have roamed, I could not resist.

‘Vampyr’ is the newest game developed by Dontnod Entertainment, the admired creators of the very well received and charming indie game ‘Life is Strange’.

The game opens with Dr Jonathan Reid, stumbling lost, injured and confused through the filthy, rat infested streets of 1918’s London. Not only is he disoriented but he has a thirst, a thirst now for human blood. Morally sticken between his choice to take a life or save a life as a respected physician, Dr Reid must search for his creator amongst the Spanish Flu ravaged streets, which also need him so urgently. Our protagonist, must dodge Vampire Hunters, clans of other vampires and other beasts of the night during his investigations, all the while utilising and maintaining civil balance amongst the districts and learning from the citizens he interacts with.

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The game plays through a semi-open world, with 4 distinct districts with many NPC characters you must interact with and collect clues about their lives and backstories. Using lines of dialogue to make plot affecting decisions, you are constantly at odds with yourself if you are saying the right thing or leading a character down a beaten path. Dr Reid is able to mesermise NPC’s to draw information out of or even feed on. Easy choice you may think, logical even, since it IS a vampire game, however gorge yourself too much, yes you gain all that sweet XP, but kill the wrong person in the community or make too many other vampires and the district falls into disarray. On the flipside, stand your ethical ground, and you are one limp vampire, struggling to level up much due to lack XP. This kind of gameplay really sucked me into the stories, that at the beginning felt slow, but as it progressed became quite an interesting narrative.

As I mentioned before, there is experience points gained through battles with minor and major characters or personally luring and slaying a member of society. Actual combat is typical and nothing new with a range of close attacks with ranged and melee weapons (the stake and the hacksaw being my preferred) which can be collected through the world. The ultimate attack is what matters the most however, using your own blood bar to master, which is depleted after use. Using it all means collecting more blood before you can use it again. Balancing your stamina and use of blood in combat plays an important, but not crucial as it is really simple to manage if you level up quickly.

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These can be used to buy both passive and active skills in Dr Reid’s skill trees. While Actives effect his attacking and defence moves and Passives increase attributes such as health, blood consumption or capacity to carry etc. As you trawl through the vulgar streets and dilapidated buildings, you can scour furniture and barter with merchants for ingredients and weapon parts. Collecting these can be downright a tedious experience, especially trying to remember what you need, where you saw it last, and returning to a safe house to construct items, however necessary to complete objectives. Medicine more importantly is needed to cure NPC’s as infections spread, or to sweeten to blood and XP of a potential victim. While parts can increase damage and lessen the impact of stamina on his weapons, for more efficiency in Boss battles.

In saying all this what it makes up for in gameplay, it still needs polishing in other areas before being a true gem. My largest issue was the character development. It took a long time before any sort of character became in the slightest likeable due to the overly strung out back stories. Another factor adding to this was the lip syncing. At times, the talking animations would be out of sync, so off putting that I would rather look down and listen because it irritated me to look at. Couple these things with the long loading times and I often felt like I was pulled out of the experience, thinking about the groceries I needed to buy the next day.

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The game does look pretty though. While the actual characters are average, the environments and cut scenes create the gothic ambience. The environments are so dank, dark and dripping with character and atmosphere. You could literally smell the piss stained streets of London in 1918. The cobbled stone streets were filled with eerie details of the sombre and diseased past. Coupled with the soundtrack which turns very orchestral to animalistic at a flip of a scene, and you can’t help but full in love with parts of this game.

Overall, Vampyr was a decent role playing experience that took a unique take on a vampiric experience. While it was rough around the edges in some aspects it takes the stake.. ha get it? I’m here all week.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Release Date: Out Now
  • Platform: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE
  • Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
  • Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
  • Genre: Role-Playing, Action