Available On: PC (Reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Official Site: Vampyr
Release Date: June 5th, 2018
Where To Buy It: Local Retailers, Steam, Xbox Store, PlayStation Store ($59.99)
Set in Victorian London? Check! Troubled vampire protagonist? Also, check! On the surface, Vampyr has all the makings of an awesome action-RPG with the possibilities of a rich story and combat worthy of its supernatural subject matter. With its promise of an open-world and choices that affect the world around you, it’s obvious that the developers spread themselves a bit too thin. The supposed open world is empty (unless you count the plethora of villains), there too many missed opportunities to count with a vampire protagonist, and it is poorly written dialogue options all make it painfully obvious that Dontnod could have used some more time. However, the general story and characters are the bright spots of this otherwise gloomy experience.
Vampyr follows Dr. Jonathan Reid, a doctor in London during the time of the Spanish Flu epidemic. Awakening as a vampire with no knowledge as to how or why, Reid is intent on finding the creature that is his Maker. As a healer, our fledgling vampire is obviously conflicted about his new thirst for blood, and how you choose to live will greatly affect the world around you. This blend of science and the supernatural is definitely an interesting one and is one of the game’s most dazzling assets. It is an interesting take on the otherwise familiar vampire tale.
The basic concept in Vampyr is an easy one: the more blood you consume, the stronger you and your newfound abilities become. While some vampiric powers, like blood spears, blood boiling, and the ability to disappear in shadow, are well-done, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down by the missed opportunities. If you’re looking to sneak around (like I was hoping to), you’ll be disappointed. The opportunities to sneak into a fight are slim to none, mostly forcing you to run straight into a fight.
Enemies are the majority of Vampyr’s “open world,” but the combat is repetitive and stale. Aside from your vampire abilities, fights include locking on, dodging, and using some sort of melee weapon to deal damage. Even the boss battles don’t allow for a vacation from this lock and dodge combat system, which is even more disappointing with all the different types of enemies.
Dontnod has attempted to make an open world that does little to enhance the stellar story. Vampyr’s map is huge, but it is much more of an annoyance than a cause for exploration. The winding streets of London are hard to navigate unless you have a photographic memory. Merchants and hideouts are highlighted on the map, but important characters or places you’ll continually visit are not. So, if you’re anything like me, you’ll run around just hoping you remember where you are going. It would have greatly benefitted from some sort of fast travel system….or maybe I just really wanted to turn into a bat at some point. Regardless, running around London is pointless due to the lack of side missions or things to explore.
That being said, they do an amazing job of setting the scene. The game looks great, and the soundtrack is a perfect match for the time and mood of the story. Whenever you make a poor choice, the music definitely lets you know with a choir track that will keep you up at night. The music sets the mood perfectly for the dark, mysterious world of Victorian London where vampires and their hunters stalk the city streets at night. If they had focused on this and their intriguing world, this would be a much different review.
At the end of the day, Vampyr suffers from one fatal flaw — overpromising and underdelivering. If they had put more attention into strengthening the story and the combat for a linear experience, this could be something really great. But its poorly filled world and weak dialogue trees only highlight how thinly the developers spread themselves. With Vampyr, less would have definitely been more, and I was left wanting with a handful of elements. This supernatural story and rich world desperately need some depth that just isn’t there.
Verdict: Much like it’s Victorian London, supernatural predecessor, The Order: 1886, Vampyr falls flat in what could have been a great experience. It’s obvious the developers spread themselves too thin by promising an open-world when they should have focused on a stellar story with fluid combat. While it looks great and Dontnod has created an interesting world, there isn’t much depth.
- Looks good
- Interesting world and story
- Gloomy soundtrack
- Empty "open world"
- Poorly written dialogue
- Repetitive combat
- Terrible map