There have only been a few video games that bring the Mythology of vampires to life, such as Vampire: The Masquerade, Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen, and Castlevania. While wonderful, none of these games really delivered the intimate, personal feeling like the new game Vampyr. With total command of your moral code, Vampyr offers an engrossing story while luring you in with the choice of keeping your scruples or to just give in to your bloodlust and become the true creature of the night. Great stuff.
Set during the era of the Spanish flu, you play as Doctor Jonathan Reid who is returning from the Great War in 1918 in London. After his crazy efforts to save the lives of those he came across during the war, he awakes back in his hometown in a mass grave, disoriented and feeling gravely ill. As you stumble about, the world around you is black and white with the only color appearing to you being a vibrant red.
You come across a pulsing vibrant red spot floating and appearing to belong to a greyed out character. Reid is overcome with an insatiable bloodlust causing him to attack and feed off of the blood belonging to the mysterious figure. After a brief moment, Reid is pulled back to the real world discovering the mysterious figure was none other than his sister Mary who had been searching for his body. Now taken over by guilt and sorrow, he vows to find the being responsible for his infliction. His torment doesn’t end there as he is discovered by vampire hunters and is forced to take shelter in an abandoned house. There he begins to hear the disembodied voice of his maker.
Coming to the realization that London is lousy with corpses, Reid follows a blood trail that leads him to a bar. After speaking to the bartender, he is directed to William Bishop who was viewed as a suspicious patron. Upon finding Bishop, you discover him feeding on a man named Sean Hampton. You fight off Bishop then tend to Hampton only to be nearly attacked by Bishop who isn’t completely dead. At the last second, you are saved by the vampire Lady Ashbury. Doctor Edgar Swansea makes a sudden appearance (you meet him earlier while at the bar), rescuing Hampton and decides to hire Reid for his heroics to practice medicine at Pembroke Hospital where unrelenting discrete horrors await.
Developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Focus Home Interactive, Vampyr is an action role-playing video game. You take control of the character Jonathan Reid during the time of the Spanish flu in London. Reid is a newborn vampire who initially refuses to believe the fact of his undead circumstances. As he comes to terms with his unwilling fate, he becomes torn between his devote duties as a doctor and this new bloodlust that haunts him every waking moment.
As you go through the game, you come across a great variety of NPCs. Each one with unique characteristics and a life all of their own. You are able to interact with them with a large selection of communicative choices, in which, if you have the patience, you can learn a great deal. Now comes the difficult and conflicting part. As Reid, being a doctor AND a vampire, it is solely up to you to decide the fate of the innocent (non-enemy NPCs). You can care for the NPCs as they fall into fatigue, headaches or even a common cold and more. If you decide to neglect them, they will actually die. In contrast, if you help them and complete their quests, it becomes quite beneficial for you.
At this point, you can continue having a well-founded relationship with them or decide to drain their life and steal away the mass of experience you will gain from them. But take caution, every action has a reaction here. The more innocents you kill, you will level up faster and it will make it easier to defeat enemies and bosses. But by doing so, you cause the streets to become more dangerous and it will actually affect other NPCs. As an example, taking the life of a certain NPC causes another to take their life. This will arouse suspicion and again cause the streets to be more deadly.
The game also offers crafting, various weapons and the ability to gain a variety of vampire-based skills.
Your choices in the game will determine which of the four endings you will receive.
There is certainly a lot to love about this game that will have you replaying it to attain all its worth. The story is wonderfully told and challenges your moral values. It also produces the bleak gothic atmosphere of London in the 1920s giving it an authentic feel. The musical score heard throughout the game is beautifully done and very well integrated. The wide variety of characters are well rounded and deeply developed, making them believable and interesting. Normally games have your main character as one thing or another, but here you are a doctor AND a vampire. Two conflicting identities that bring true challenges. Every choice has an equal reaction and consequence and it is up to you. Most games attempt this route, but Vampyr really sucks it out of you!
For those who would much rather enjoy more of a hands-on movie experience then story mode would be best suited for you. It’s a great concept for more novice players or ones that enjoy a casual play.
Now with everything in existence, there are always cons, but in this case, these are small things that are easily overshadowed (or will most likely be fixed) in comparison to the pros. There are some glitches that can break the game. These glitches that were experienced actually cause the game to shut off. (We only experienced this issue in story mode.) This will more than likely will be fixed in the future though especially given that story mode and hard mode were later added on into the game.
While interacting with NPCs, the dialog can tend to be a bit tedious at times. It’s great that there are so many things to chat about with an NPC and so much to learn, but it can take quite a bit of time to get through it all. You can tell that the heart of the game is in the choices and actions due to the lack of facial expression the characters show. I’m sure it would take a lot more time to give genuine facial reactions, but the lack thereof will kind of pull you out of the game.
Last but certainly not least are the combat spikes in the normal and hard modes. The enemies jump so high in levels that you are basically forced into killing the innocent to gain enough experience to just hold your ground, not giving you a true choice. These might sound like big deals, but once you’re playing through, they become nothing more than minor annoyances.
Vampyr is a game that must be played by anyone who loves heavy driven story games. Even if you aren’t an experienced player story mode will help you enjoy the game without challenge. Just hope we will see a Vampyr 2 in our future, I’m not ready to let go of this vampiric world!
Reviewed on the PS4, also available for XB1 and PC
4.5 out of 5