Vampyr, a game from the creators of Life is Strange which exudes similarities to everything from Dark Souls, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines. The game is definitely different from the studio’s previous release, Life is Strange, but still manages to bring to life fantastic storytelling and dialogue interactions in a similar fashion with this Action-RPG. The story is set in England, during the early twentieth century, when the Spanish Flu Epidemic ran rampant through the cities and decimated populations. Using that as it’s narrative set-up, the game has a heavy emphasis on interpersonal dialogue and interactions which tugs at the heartstrings as you must either choose to feast on those you’ve built strong-standing relationships with, or sacrifice your own bloodlusted desires to be the savior that England so desperately needs.
Vampyr focuses on Doctor Johnathan Reid, a man whose mind is infested with memories of war-time carnage and hate that permeated the battleground during his tenure as a medic in World War I. Now, finally, Reid is on his way home to visit his parents and sister, his family who he hadn’t seen since before his time on the battlefield. But, as soon as he steps off the boat and greets his homeland, he’s savagely attacked by a creature of the night, a vampire. Reid awakens from his death, confused and with a brittle-mind, he saunters towards the first human he sees and, with bloodlusted savagery, sinks his teeth into their flesh, officially jump-starting the game’s primary narrative.
After being chased down by amateur vampire hunters and defeating your first boss, you’re brought to the main base for your vampiric operations, whether that be quest-based missions from patients and doctors around the hospital or doing single-man explorations into the ever-deteriorating districts that seemingly all connect to the central nexus that is the hospital. And, once Reid becomes accustomed to his newfound (after)life in the hospital, his main goal is to find out why he was turned into a creature with cannibalistic needs.
However, the narrative techniques are where this game really shines, as every interactive Non-Player Character (NPC) in the game’s story has their own tale to share and their own secrets to unlock. The game is incredible in that it makes actually speaking with the NPC’s rewarding. I was emotionally invested in every character and each of their stories that they willingly allowed me to hear, whether it be the interracial couple’s whose love I had to keep secret or the weird, sociopathic thug with a 60’s thug aesthetic. Each of these stories that made themselves known crafted a narrative experience that I had hardly enjoyed before, and took my focus away from things like combat or XP grinding to level up my vampiric abilities.
As for the combat, it’s definitely a fluid and easy-to-understand system but it feels like there’s something missing when you’re actually in the midst of combating vampire hunters, religious zealots, vampires with enhanced skin necrosis, or something that looks like if a rat and a werewolf decided to conceive. The abilities you can purchase with your experience points seem to be very much in a similar vein to the abilities you could get in the game Dishonored, like shadowy teleportation and other similar forms of combat aids except some just level-up the abilities that come with being a vampire, such as biting and blood control. The weapons in the game are varied and each come with specific damage counts. But, for some reason, the combat feels empty during its process and just becomes boringly repetitive, although that is fixed when new enemy types are introduced and boss fights are to be had.
Honestly, I’d recommend this game to anyone who are fans of the RPG genre and don’t mind spending hours to understand the stories of the denizens who roam around London’s nightly streets. It’s honestly one of the most fun games I’ve had the chance to experience and this, in tandem with Life is Strange, I will most definitely be picking up whatever the studio’s next game is.