Developed by DONTNOD Entertainment
Played on PS4PRO
Some interesting facts.
Developer’s DONTNOD Entertainment burst onto the scene with their first game, Remember Me, an ambitious action-adventure title involving memory manipulation and customizable combos to string unique combinations of attacks. The game while unique was not quite as polished as it should have been and resulted in average reviews which severely impacted the sales of Remember Me. As a result of that, DONTNOD Entertainment was in financial difficulty and only survived after receiving public funding for their next title published by Square Enix called Life Is Strange. The episodic teenage mystery centred around a young girl called Max and her best friend Chloe trying to solve the mystery of a town about to be ravaged by a tornado. The game proved to be a commercial hit with over 3 million copies sold. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the first title since their success is Vampyr, another ambitious effort centred about vampires in the era of the Spanish flu. This Action RPG has often been compared to Vampire The Masquerade, a beloved flawed gem although ironically while the subject matter is the same could not be further apart in execution.
The story revolves around Dr Jonathan Reid who wakes up one day, confused, and thirsty for blood having recently been turned into a vampire by who, or what more specifically is revealed during the course of the story. And boy what a story it is. The game oozes atmosphere and has an admirable amount of world building and lore to make the story believable and more importantly multi-dimensional. Vampire stories usually are very simple, its humans against vampires. In this game, the developers have managed to create a somewhat complex vampire society ranging from the lower mindless caste (Skals) to the average vampires (Ekons), to the beastly (Vulkod) and the layers are peeled carefully to slowly show how deep they go. It’s quite simply wonderful to see it unfold and by the end of the game (4 endings, 2 good and 2 bad) the time it took for the investment in the story pays off. However, the ambition reflected in the game’s story does not reflect well in the other aspects of the game, more notably the gameplay.
What I Liked
- Excellent story, lore, atmosphere & world building.
- Music – really wonderful voice acting and music that adds so much to the experience.
- Memorable characters – Lady Ashbury, Doctor Swansea, Old Bridget, I can go on and on. Even NPC’s have unique stories that stick with you long after you encounter them.
- Choice & Consequence – choose to treat the sick and preserve the quality of life, or give in to your vampiric desires and watch as society crumbles.
- Upgradeable weapons and abilities that contribute towards your character’s survival which leads into the next point of what I liked;
- It’s not a pushover – some games get you to a point where you can just steamroll over everything because you feel so powerful with maximum upgrades. Not here. XP is hard to come by.
What I Wished Was Better
- Polish – the game is in desperate need of the level of polish to match the ambition they are trying to reach for. Besides the bugs, there are weird loading times at strange moments in the game like during conversations and not locations transitions.
- The dialogue tree making more sense – There were multiple times where I felt the conversations were supposed to go in a specific flow, only because of the player choice of what dialogue to pick it results in sometimes weirdly disjointed conversations.
- Better pacing and transitions – the game has chapters but you will never feel like it does because it flows so quickly and without “breaks”. One minute you are in Chapter 2 and suddenly after completing a mission, you are in Chapter 3. It’s like why bother having chapters if there aren’t any transitions in between them.
- Good cinematics, odd placements – I guess this could be related to my previous point. Apart from the intro, the next cinematic happens just randomly then there are none until the last chapter comes around and the ending of the game.
What I Disliked
- No fast travel – I mean come on really? What year is this?
- Combat is clunky and upgrading is a pain – So one of my positive points was that the game is not a pushover. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword. Combat in the game can get extremely frustrating because the damage feedback isn’t as good as it should be and your character can die really quickly because of it. I mentioned earlier that XP is hard to come by. It’s actually easy to come by if you decide to be a sadist and “drink” all the NPC’s and power up. But if you choose the pacifist way (good vampire) XP comes by so slow and you will be under-levelled until the end of the game. Even grinding enemies only provide a small sliver of XP which is not a viable method at all. By the end, it feels unbalanced and cheap.