Platform: Xbox One (Available on Game Pass)
A doctor, specializing in blood transfusions turned Vampire – the irony – but one hell of a good setup for a game and story. As someone who has taken an oath to save lives, now must take lives in order to live and grow stronger. Vampyr takes place in a Gothic, industrial London in 1918, the perfect setting for a game with potential sinister consequences.
You play as Doctor Jonathan Reid, who has been attacked by a mysterious assailant and now has a thirst for blood. Dr Reid has been forced to find his maker and why a mysterious cult has returned to the streets of London. And almost straight away you are thrown into the combat system against the Guard of Priwen, a group of vampire hunters. The combat is very clunky and is the weakest part of the game. Each swing and dodge consumes stamina and you are normally fighting several enemies at once, each with their own unique skillset and attacks, the player has to be very strategic with their hits but even when you manage to get a combo, it just doesn’t flow well. I wish they utilized the vampire abilities outside of combat, using London’s small narrow side streets to avoid any hostiles, creating another approach to the game.
After stunning opponents you drink your opponent’s blood mid-fight and gain mana, strength, I don’t really know. Anyway, this allows you to use your vampire abilities, which are accessible through a skill tree. The most intriguing part of this game is how you gain XP. Throughout the game, you will meet a number of interesting and fully fleshed out characters, more on this later, you have the choice on whether you want to be a good vampire and only feed on the dying or the bad guys of London or just be a vampire with a complete lack of self-control and just feed on the city. Whatever floats your bloats. But yeah back to my point, so the more poor souls on your menu, the stronger you get and gain more XP.
This XP gaining system is further enhanced by a district health system. The residents of each NPCs are afflicted with a number of different diseases, illnesses… and fatigue, a lot of fatigue. Of course, Dr. Reid wants the best blood on the streets, so you can use your guise as a Doctor to heal these illnesses and increase the quality of blood available and higher XP gains. These illnesses are discovered through detailed conversation trees, all containing hints and potential quests. What I loved most about this was how the better behaved you are the harder the game becomes because you earn less XP. You are not given many warnings how quickly the NPCs level up and you are left in for a tough fight. I’m a sucker for consequences to the way act in the game.
The story has been great so far, the variety of characters and the twists and turns you find out keep you intrigued and there are enough side quests to flesh out the game. Dr Reid becomes a physician at the Pembroke Hospital to hide the fact he’s only going to be seen at night, it’s a shame he’s never there to help any of the patients, but I can’t imagine that being a hugely fun game. The story almost takes on a murder mystery combined with an action horror, as you scour the streets for clues to your making and the various cults that haunt London.
I’ve given Vampyr a 6/10, the game has a fantastic and fun concept with choices having an impact on the game, and a huge catch 22 for Dr Reid. Do you help people to further the quality of blood available or do you avoid feeding on people altogether and just help them because you’re a nice guy? But it’s let down by clunky and overwhelming amounts of combat and the pacing is pretty poor as you have to speak to a lot of people, with huge amounts of conversation available. These create a very bland RPG that quickly become tiring, irritating and quite frankly boring experience, with small bits of story keeping you interested.