Vampyr review: The struggle of saving a city and being a vampire

Vampyr is the latest game from Dontnod Entertainment, the developer behind Life Is Strange and Remember Me. The third-person action RPG tells the tale of a newly turned vampire trying to save London from a plague and its supernatural inhabitants. Does the game have a fresh take on the vampire lore? Read more to find out.

Enter The Vampyr

In Vampyr you play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, who has recently been transformed into a vampire. With that said, he is by far the worst part of the game. His performance is lackluster at best with all the charisma of a paper bag. Sadly classic vampires of the past are gone and are replaced with a lackluster leading man. If you are looking for suave and seductive vampires here, look elsewhere. Dontnot did develop Life Is Strange, an amazing 3rd-person, time-manipulation adventure game filled with developed characters who explores complex issues. All of the charm and wit present in that game is absent in Vampyr. There are several other characters in the game who gives amazing performances, but Dr. Reid drags down the experience.

The Vampyr Lives

The story of Vampyr feels a little cliche at the beginning but quickly finds its own voice. The game starts with Reid killing a loved one, drinking the person’s blood. There are enough stories of tragic heroes killing their family accidentally, and while it feels overdone, it almost takes a backseat to the actual story. It’s definitely part of the character motivation, but the game doesn’t needlessly harp on it. Playing as Dr. Reid, you find yourself investigating how you became a vampire. The story takes you across a London that has been mostly decimated by a plague. Since you’re playing as a doctor, you are drawn into developing a cure for the plague while battling your own vampire demons.

The Vampyr Fights

The combat in Vampyr is a combination of some of the best and worst parts of this generation’s action RPGs. The combat is real time but feels a bit dull. The enemy AI seems to wait one at a time to attack you, and there doesn’t seem to be any penalty for going in underprepared. You can almost exclusively rely on your primary attack and secondary attack. Even though both aren’t that powerful, they are incredibly useful. Not only that but the vampire abilities you unlock feel almost overpowered, though that might be the point. At no time did it feel like you are in danger for your life, save for a few boss fights or cutscenes.

I Feel the Need, the Need to Feed

In order to strengthen Dr. Reid, he has to feed on human blood. The game doesn’t waste time trying to muddle with the morality of feeding on people since it focuses on who you choose as victims. Keep in mind that citizens give varying amount of experience, so the choice of victim is key. Citizens that seem “good” net more experience, but the more you feed, the more danger it places the district in. Typically this will place more powerful enemies or bring the district closer to succumbing to the plague. In theory, this is a smart choice to add a risk and reward situation to your feeding, but in execution, there’s no penalty to overfeeding. In most cases, you’ll become stronger than the enemies you’re facing, so the balancing act feels a little silly.

Final Reaction

A lot can be said about this game. It’s ambitious and fun but lacks a likable or well-developed protagonist. The combat doesn’t feel all that challenging, but the vampire powers are fun as hell to use. For me, the things I dislike about the game levels up evenly with the things I like. That may not be the case for everyone, but I feel like there is enough here for people to enjoy.

It definitely is a standout title in an era of games where vampires seem to have disappeared. The game’s environment feel fleshed out, the characters’ unique, and the sound design manages to convey a dark tone. Even though the game does a lot right, it is mired by one weakness – its protagonist. Nearly every aspect of Vampyr feels meticulously planned, yet some parts of the game such as the combat feel lazy and unengaging. Vampyr has the potential to be one of the best games of the year but has some shortcomings that almost ruin an otherwise great title.

Rating: 3 Atoms

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