Vampyr Review - Sink Your Teeth Into an Intoxicating Vampire RPG
Have you ever wanted to experience life as a vampire? Have you ever longed to fit into a human society that's impacted by your very presence as a vampire? Have you ever desired to get blood drunk and wreak havoc on your enemies with supernatural abilities?
Then let me tell you about a special single-player action RPG called Vampyr. It's a brand-new game from DONTNOD Entertainment, the creators of Life Is Strange.
This new game aims to provide players with an authentic vampire experience set alongside a gripping story centered around the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic in London. Is this a vampire game that's worth more than a blip on your radar? Let's find out!
You play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a newly turned vampire. Upon returning to London from the warfront, he finds the Spanish Flu pandemic has ravaged the nation, alongside a mysterious uptick in the vampire population. As a doctor, it is his duty to help find a cure to save the city from the flu. As a vampire, he can use his supernatural abilities to get down to the bottom of whatever's plaguing London, if only he can suppress the thirst for blood.
There are two major aspects to this game. In many ways, it's a deep social RPG in that you have the ability to make a powerful impact on the citizens around you -- in more ways than one. However, it's also an action RPG that can prove quite challenging in its own right, depending on how you play your cards.
How Vampyr Functions as a Social RPG
The people of London feel alive, and the game is happy to treat them as if they are. If they get sick, they could die. If they die, the people connected to them may suffer in sometimes unpredictable ways. This isn't a game where you can expect to get away with being careless.
As a doctor, you thankfully have the power to craft and administer medicine to those who need it. And as a vampire, you even have the power to save citizens who find themselves in more imminent danger. Making sure the health of London's social circles is up to par is essential for keeping them from falling apart. After all, you're looking to save the city, aren't you?
If you're not, that's fine too. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Just remember that all of your choices have consequences.
Each populated district in London has its own social circle. Each social circle has a pillar at the top who everybody knows or is connected to somehow. Then everybody else in the social circle is divided into clusters of people who are close to each other.
Everybody has their secrets, too. They even have secrets with other people. The more you learn about the citizens of London, the more you begin to realize how interconnected these social circles really are. You get a feel for how important these people are. You even get a taste of how much their blood is worth.
The story likes to set up intricate and delicate scenarios where you're left making difficult decisions. These choices often impact important people, which in turn affects those who were close to those people. The way they're impacted depends entirely on how you manage the situation. You have the power to save London, but you also have the power to destroy it.
If you decide to just give up on London and your own humanity, you could just give into the thirst and start draining the citizens of their blood one by one. You'd even find yourself to be stronger for it. The more important someone is, the more you know about them, and the healthier they are, the more experience they're worth. However, that also means the amount of experience you earn for killing them is also essentially equivalent to the consequences you will incur, so bear this in mind before you pick your next victim.
The social RPG elements are undoubtedly deep, but how does the action hold up in comparison?
How Vampyr Works as an Action RPG
The action here draws slight parallels to The Witcher 3 in execution. You have a main-hand melee weapon as well as a secondary weapon, which can be a simple off-hand melee weapon or a gun. You can attack with your equipped weapons, dodge, sprint, and use an array of supernatural abilities to take down your opponent.
You have a Stamina Meter that depletes every time you dodge, sprint, or attack with melee weapons. If you run out of stamina, you're left unable to perform these actions, which can easily lead to death if you're not careful.
You also have a Blood Meter that fuels your supernatural abilities. This meter won't replenish over time and must instead be filled by either biting rats, biting enemies in combat, or using the perks of certain supernatural abilities.
The enemies you face in this game aren't pushovers, either. You're going to need to become at least competent with the game's mechanics in order to succeed, even if you're at a decent level. It's not terribly hard, but you can't expect to just blunder into the fray with guns blazing and expect to succeed.
That being said, you might find that you're consistently far below the level of the enemies that the game's throwing at you. That's actually intentional. It's the game's way of giving you an incentive to feed on the citizens of London. It represents how much weaker you are when you don't feed while simultaneously offering you the opportunity to see just how powerful you would be if you gave in and engorged yourself. Of course, feeding comes with consequences, so remember to drink responsibly.
When you gain experience, you won't automatically benefit from it and level up. Instead, you must rest at a bed and spend experience on supernatural abilities in order to level up properly. You can even spend a bit of experience to reset your skill build and respec everything.
So all in all, the social and action aspects of this game mesh together brilliantly. This alone makes for a wonderful vampire RPG. Mix it all with a mystery and story that you want to get invested in, and you have a downright attractive vampire game.
Verdict: An Intoxicating Vampire RPG
Vampyr gripped me from the outset. Its gameplay and overarching theme mesh so well together that it just feels right to play. I felt like a gritty, badass, newborn vampire struggling to find its way in the world and control the madness spreading across London. I just felt so cool playing it, and that's a feeling I don't get from many games anymore.
It's one of those games where I always wanted to see what was around the next corner. I would scrub every inch of text and dialogue because I found it wholeheartedly interesting. The mystery surrounding being a vampire and the story of the pandemic in London had me absolutely hooked.
If you're at all interested in this title, I highly recommend checking it out. Whether you're just a fan of vampires or you're looking for a good single-player RPG to sink your teeth into, this is a game you don't want to overlook.
Vampyr is available June 5 on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Editor's Note: To read the community review for DONTNOD's Vampyr, shamble here.