The older I get, the more I sus­pect I’m go­ing to be say­ing this quite a lot about games: “I re­ally wanted to like X, but…” So, let’s get this out of the way now, shall we? I re­ally wanted to like Vampyr, but all it re­ally made me think as I was play­ing it was that I’d much rather be play­ing Dis­hon­ored in­stead.

Now, to be fair, it did make me also think how much some of Vampyr’s me­chan­ics would re­ally add to Arkane Stu­dio’s game of leap­ing as­sas­sins stab­bing peo­ple in the face. Vampyr does a lot of very cool things, in a very cool set­ting, but I feel it also squan­ders a lot of those me­chan­ics in try­ing to tie them all to­gether in a game about, well, vam­pires.

For a game about a doc­tor in­fected by a dis­ease way more com­plex than he’s used to, Lon­don in the years af­ter the Great War is a won­der­ful set­ting. The world has seen mil­i­tarised mur­der on a scale never seen be­fore, and the u pan­demic is just kick­ing off, mak­ing the dark, sooty streets of the city per­fect feed­ing grounds. Yet, for all of that, Vampyr’s Lon­don – made up four dis­crete dis­tricts in­spired by real lo­ca­tions, but compressed for the sake of game­play – feels dis­ap­point­ingly ho­mogenised. It could be Lon­don from any pe­riod in the 1800s to the early 20th cen­tury, and the fact that the game takes place en­tirely at night (be­cause sun­light will kill you, natch), doesn’t help. A cer­tain de­gree of grim-dark is ex­pected in a game about gothic vam­pire hor­ror, but Vampyr pos­si­bly goes a bit too far. There are some stand-out lo­ca­tions that change things up, like the hos­pi­tal that forms the hub of the rst act and main area, but other­wise it’s all wind­ing al­leys that seem in­dis­tin­guish­able from each other in the game’s over­hang­ing gloom.

The peo­ple that in­habit these dis­tricts are more in­ter­est­ing, and this is where one of the game’s key me­chan­ics comes into play. As the just turned Jonathan Reid, you’re pretty much al­ways hun­gry, and all your new­found pow­ers rely upon blood to use – more im­por­tantly, you won’t be able to un­lock or im­prove those pow­ers with­out din­ing out on some more or less in­no­cent peo­ple. The game’s built-in dif culty curve is based around the need to feed, which in turn causes your cur­rent dis­trict to be­come more chaotic and dan­ger­ous, or to pro­tect those around you – in which case you’re more or less a good guy and peo­ple like you, but the game’s com­bat be­comes that much harder as you lack the more ef­fec­tive ght­ing abil­i­ties.

The game’s fo­cus on the cen­tral mo­ral quandary of be­ing a vam­pire is fur­ther di­luted by the game’s fo­cus on com­bat. The ma­jor­ity of conversations are sim­ply a mat­ter of click­ing through ev­ery dia­logue op­tion – com­bat is where the game re­ally gives you a lot of toys to play with, with a range of ac­tive and pas­sive vam­piric abil­i­ties to un­lock. But they’re all about ght­ing, and while the game ef­fec­tively ‘pun­ishes’ you for deal­ing harshly with the ne folk of Lon­don, drink­ing blood while in com­bat is es­sen­tially harm­less. Nor can you re­ally avoid a lot of the

ght­ing. Me­chan­i­cally it’s sound enough – you lock onto en­e­mies and then whale on them with weapons in ei­ther hand, dam­ag­ing and stun­ning by turns, drink­ing blood to power up your abil­i­ties, then rinse and re­peat.

The game is, in nearly ev­ery as­pect, nearly good. Great, even, but nearly ev­ery­thing it tries to do has been done bet­ter else­where, which adds up to a par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­point­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Vampyr is a game that is aim­ing to for its whole to be greater than the sum of its parts, but those parts sim­ply don’t add up, and even fall just a lit­tle too short to be truly like­able.


Genre: RPG• De­vel­oper: Dontnod En­ter­tain­ment • Pub­lisher: Fo­cus Home In­ter­ac­tive • Plat­form: PC; PS4; Xbox One

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