The dark and dreary setting of World War 1 London wasn’t something I thought i would ever enjoy, but when you factor in vampires and an intriguing story, perceptions begin to change. From beginning to end, Vampyr was a story I constantly was engaged with, and although the lackluster and clunky combat almost held me back a few times, the running story and character progression kept me focused on the end game.
The Spanish Flu has descended on London, and citizens are dropping like flies. As the local doctor, you tend to these people. As a vampire, you often need to feast on these people to survive.
This is essentially the grappling issue players will have to decide on. With dozens upon dozens of characters to interact with as you travel through the cities districts, you’ll need to decide which you will help and quest for, and which you will sacrifice for your own personal need. Be careful of your decisions though, as they have a great impact on how the game plays out.
Kill to many people in one of the 4 districts, and that district will fall into disrepair, and will essentially cease to exist. Kill too many people, and lose out on numerous side quests that could have net you some crazy experience. It’s hard to avoid killing innocent civilians, as killing anyone will reap you experience. Unfortunately, the experience gained from biting enemies is drastically less than the experience you earn from draining innocent civilians.
This ultimately will be what players will grapple with the most. The skill tree is full of great upgrades to obtain, but all those upgrades ultimately come at a hefty price: the lives of those around you. Deciding what to do is why you keep pushing forward, at least for me. And it’s necessary, because the key gameplay mechanic – combat – is sorely lacking.
In one sense, I can slightly understand why the clunky combat exists. Major resources were obviously dumped into the storytelling, character progression, and how quests would play out. And at the end of the day, that is the key feature of Vampyr. That being said, perhaps a few more dollars could have been spent improving the games combat.
As you unlock specific skills, combat does become a bit more varried, allowing you to quickly get around the playing field, going invisible for a few seconds, and much more. When those options aren’t available to you, however, you are left stumbling around, shipping with a melee weapon, and dodging incoming blows. It sound OK in writing, but the execution on screen is a mess, and it’s fairly disappointing.
The environments, however, are as good as you could want from a fairly open world, World War 2 London. Although the dreary setting wasn’t hitting me as we moved towards launch, actually taking control and exploring changed my mind. I’m generally not a fan of dark games, but this is an exception for me. The environments, and the people that populate them, quickly transported me to what I would assume turn-of-the-century London would look like, during a major flu and during a major war.
Vampyr isn’t a fast paced RPG experience, and that is not a bad thing. While the combat could use some fine tuning, the rest of the game works really well. With many different paths to go down, and decisions that seem to have an impact on the game, there is always something to see in Vampyr, and playing a second time could also result in a different finish. It’s not a high recommendation, but if you are looking for an interesting experience, Vampyr will give you that.
This review was carried out using a code provided to us by Bethesda, on an Xbox One X provided to us by Xbox Canada.