Vampyr Game Review
- Developer: Dontnod Entertainment.
- Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Release Date: 5/6/18
- Platforms: PS4/Xb1/PC
- Reviewed on: PS4 Pro on 4K Samsung TV
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Wanna go around London as a Vampire and bite people’s necks to drink their blood while investigating a plague? Sure you do, who wouldn’t? Well fill your vampirc blood self in Dontnod’s latest game Vampyr.
Vampyr is a breath of fresh air on the gaming market, despite the grim setting of 1918 London. Dontnod studios, ( a very underrated studio in my opinion ) have created a superb, atmospheric world, filled it with great characters and ideas, however it doesn’t take long for that shine to fade into a fog the more you play.
The way to describe Vampyr’s gameplay would be to mix a battle system and combat of Bloodbourne / Dark Souls, with the crafting and exploring of The last of us, with a full on detective story to unravel in the style of the Sherlock Holmes games. On paper this sounds great but the execution is somewhat lacking.
First of all the graphics, not a huge issue for me, but they are definitely lacking. It’s not in the settings though as the artwork, detail and crispness of a bleak post war central London is fantastic and very atmospheric, it’s just the character models are very basic. This isn’t again a game breaking problem, but it does become an issue when you soon realize that the game is very very dialogue heavy, so you will spend an awful amount of time in dialogue with extremely bland looking and not very well animated close ups of NPC’s driveling on for ages, just so you can unlock clues for the story and side missions. In the first 4 hours of gameplay, you will spend at least 50% of the time just talking to NPC’s.
Added to the lacking character visuals, the dialogue and voice acting is again, very laboured and uninteresting. If it wasn’t that this was such a huge aspect of the game, it wouldn’t be an issue, but seeing as it is, it really distracts from the game. However some of the audio is fantastic, especially around the streets of London. For example, walking around in the rain, the falling rain had different audio effects depending on what it fell on, ie a tin car bonnet, sounded different to rain falling on a wooden barrel. It’s a great touch.
The combat is challenging, a little cumbersome, but different and rewarding. There are many ways to defeat foes, either with normal weapons, or your vampiric special abilities such as a long distance blood arrow, or by simply knocking enemies and then bite them. I felt the character you play early on was too weak but then this leads into one of the best aspects and brilliant juxtaposition the game throws at the player, and the best hook of the game.
The central plot of the game is to unravel a mystery, and to do this you have to talk to people to unlock clues. The more clues you unlock the easier it is. However these same people are also your food, and the more people you kill the stronger and quicker your character will level up. However kill to many people in an area and then the area becomes hostile and enemies and indeed your friends become harder to deal with. You can in fact play the entire game and not kill anyone other than the obligatory boss fights, but it’s mighty hard to do so, and not as much fun.
There is a certain amount of exploring to do in the semi open world of London to craft and upgrade the items ( like guns, medicines and pouches to hold them in ) but again searching in new areas when you are underpowered is difficult, but then finding new items, can upgrade your strength to make it worthwhile. It’s a great choice to have.
I really wanted to invest a lot of my time exploring London and throw myself into the games lore, collectables, and dialogue options with this game, but frankly got too bored to do so. It’s mainly because the narrative of the game is fairly dull, and even more boring watching non expressional NPC’s blab on in an un-interesting manner to unlock the game progression and the story. This is such a shame for a great story telling studio like Dontnod, as the stories, dialogue and narrative, in their previous games, Remember Me, and Life is Strange, were central to those games and excellent.
A great story telling aspect with great writing could have made Vampyr, such an excellent game, but as it is, it’s unfortunately just an ok one, despite the fresh ideas.