Developer DONTNOD (of Life Is Strange fame), attempts to change the standard way of storytelling and progression with their RPG title Vampyr. But does it rise from the dead or just bleed you dry?
Set in the early 1900’s, just after the First World War to be precise, you play as protagonist Dr Jonathan Reid whom immediately wakes up from having been turned. With no idea who turned him, why he was turned or what he’s capable of, he sets off to find work and discover what exactly is happening to him. Residing in a hospital where he can work on patients at night time and investigate what is happening to him, whilst resting during the day, aided by a fellow doctor.
Vampyr is an Action-RPG title where instead of levelling up the traditional way a la completing quests and gaining XP, DONTNOD has decided to do things differently. And rightly so. For the way this is done, it actually gives you a sense of morality where choices really do matter. As you start unlocking new abilities and perks through the skill tree and meeting more residents around London town, you’ll start unlocking character trees of everyone important that you’ve met. At first glance, a character may not be seen as important, so you may ‘feed’ on that character to drain their blood and receive the small amount of XP they have to offer. However, you may decide to leave that character…for now, and learn more about them by completing quests for them or speaking to other characters that may have something in common with that character and thus their character tree grows, giving you new information and increase in XP you can gain from there. But be warned: Should you choose to drain their blood, could cause a knock-on affect for another character who may have held more information later in the game, allowing you to increase their XP. It’s these moments, where you have to come face-t0-face with difficult decisions.
Of course, draining their blood early will net you quick XP and grant you access to more abilities earlier, it will make the game much more difficult later on in the game, but if you wait it out and choose your ‘victims’ carefully – whether they are worth the kill or not, you’ll make it easier in the long run, but combat encounters could prove a struggle early-game. The decision is completely yours.
There are the usual RPG tropes located within the game such as attributes on weapons and a wide variety of them at your disposal, looting containers and chests can contain valuable items, and quest logs given to you by various characters.
Combat however, can be a little clunky at times, especially when you’re trying to dodge an attack – making way for ‘fiddly’ thumbs when trying to control Jonathan and the camera angle at the same time. Missing an attack could prove disastrous if you’re low on health or blood.
If you manage to lose a lot of blood, you’re gonna need to feed, so it’s at this point the game will force you to feed upon unsuspecting victims, but it’s not all doom and gloom as you can literally go into a rage and gather the blood of your enemies.
London has never looked so gloomy in a video game before. Vampyr has the feel for the place right down to a T. In fact, it’s almost as if London during this time period is the perfect setting for a title like this. There’s something about it that just fits. Although having said that, playing on an Xbox One X sometimes had a bit of screen-tearing but not enough to affect the overall quality of the game.
Vampyr is a great addition to the genre, and something that DONTNOD has done a little differently. With around 25-30 hours completion time, and plenty of replayability, this title is definitely worth the biting price.
Vampyr can be purchased from retailers and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store, priced at £49.99.
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Vampyr tries to push boundaries with the way it deals with gameplay mechanisms, forcing the player to make tough choices that actually make a difference in the difficulty of the game throughout. An excellent story that puts you in the shoes of a Vampire from birth in the early 1900’s. Full of typical RPG tropes that leaves the player wanting more.