Vampyr

The origins of vampires are somewhat shrouded. According to Matthew Beresford, author of “From Demons to Dracula: The Creation of the Modern Vampire Myth”, mentions of creatures like vampires date back to the ancient world. Some suggest that vampires were born out of sorcery in ancient Egypt, a demon summoned into this world. Whatever the truth is, the modern vampires as we know them, have their origins in folklore dated around the 18th century.

Origin of the word Vampire:
Mid 18th century: from French, from Hungarian vampir, perhaps from Turkish uber ‘witch’.
Source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/vampire

The most famous vampire in modern publications is without a doubt Bram Stoker’s Dracula from 1897. Since then, multiple stories have evolved around the myth of the creatures of the night, some scary, some not so scary, and some somewhat ridiculous (Sorry Twilight fans, but glittering vampires? For real?). From Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire” over Josh Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “True Blood“, vampires fascinate us. I’m not sure what it is exactly that drags us to them. The bestial loner, we want to tame, maybe? The power? Immortality? That’s best for a psychologist to answer.

The first released game about Vampires was the 1981 text adventure “The Count“, were the player had to defeat Dracula himself. Since then a lot of games about vampires found their way onto our computers. Vampyr by DontNod is only the latest on a long list, trying to wrestle the topic of immortality, hunger and regaining ones humanity… or not.

Vampyr. Dr. Jonathan Read leaning over a patient in the front yard of the Pembroke hospital in London.

When I heard first about the game I was hooked. Hyped even. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. As things were, when Vampyr was released my life was turned upside down, and so it took until now that I’ve actually played it.

It’s reception was not spectacular, but okay. The rating on Metacritic is a 72, Steam users find it Mostly Positive. And while the game does have some issues, it is definitely worth playing.

Vampyr screenshot. Dr. Jonathan Reid with a scalpel in his hand and nurse Crane leaning over a patient.

In Vampyr, you play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, who just came back to London from the war, to find the city plague ridden. Waking up in a mass grave, just turned and already hunted, you make your way through London, to find answers and the one who is responsible for your new un-life.

The game play is actually quite simple. Run (or walk, if you have the patience) through London, fight off members of the Guard of Riwen, a neverending bunch of professional vampire hunters, some sort of zombie vampires called skals, and talk to citizens. While you get some XP for fighting, healing and finding clues about the numerous citizens, you can get way more through blood. The healthier a citizen is and the more you’ve found out about them, the more XP they give. But how easy is it to kill someone once you know them? Will you crave power? Or will you regain your humanity? Your game, your choice.

Vampyr. Dr. Jonathan read standing in front of a cross at Stonebridge cemetery.

Everything you do has effects on the districts of London. Healing people will stabilize it, while killing the wrong people might throw it into chaos. Again, your game, your choice. Which of the four possible endings will you get? (Spoiler-Alert: I got the third, which is one of the bad ones. Oops.)

Let’s get to the issues I have with the game. First: the combat system feels somewhat clunky. While it doesn’t really matter on easy (yes, I am a wimp), since you plough through your enemies, even if they are several level above you, it just feels a bit meh, sometimes laggy.

Vampyr. Dr. Jonathan Reid talking to a citizen on the dark streets of London.

Then there’s the time you walk around. Some sort of quick travel, at least from hideout to hideout would’ve been nice. Every time you want to evolve, you have to find a hideout to sleep. But when you do, things change. Citizens you’ve brought medicine are cured for now, but others may get sick. So, most of the time, you run around, searching citizens to give them medicine. I mean, if you don’t want the entirety of London be thrown into chaos. If you want that to happen, go for it. I started my night with crafting medicine, visiting the sick citizens, trying to find more clues, doing their personal quests, killed those I didn’t find worthy of living, and only then I continued with the story. Now, problem is, while you do those things you might get enough XP to evolve, which means a new night, and then it’s back to medicine and curing people. Which involves a lot of walking. So, yeah, quick travel would’ve been nice.

And as I mentioned before, searching for citizens can be a pain in the ass, if you’re like me. My memory and sense for orientation is close to non existent, so it took me awhile to memorize all the locations. Ugh. While some of them walk around a bit, some sort of marker on the map would’ve been really nice.

Vampyr. Dr. Jonathan Reid fighting against a member of the Guard of Riwen with vampire powers.

The graphics are sometimes… weird. While everything up close looks great (especially the backside of Dr. Reids coat – shoulders, not THAT backside, who do you take me for?), everything that is a bit farther away looks a bit mushy. Though it doesn’t really hurt the overall dirty look of a dirty London. I mean, it’s during the night in 1918, while a plague is ransacking the city. There’s nothing pretty about it.

And then there’s the big thing. At least for me. Who for fucks sake creates a third person game in 2018 without the option to turn off motion blur in the settings? I had a hard time at first until I found some tricks that helped with that. I’ll put them in a separate post. But yeah @DontNod… shame on you. Motion sickness is a thing, and I do believe that there should be options to minimize it. Period.

But let’s get to one of the best things about this game. The music. Olivier Deriviere, who also did the soundtrack for “Get Even“, did an amazing job, as always. The music is divine and emphasizes the darkish atmosphere of the game perfectly. It isn’t really a surprise though, because in my experience the name Olivier Deriviere promises a great soundtrack. And always delivers.

Vampyr. Dr. Jonathan Reid biting a member of the Guard of Riven.

Now, let’s get to the final question: Is the game worth its full price of 50 €? Uhm… I tend towards a cautious “Maaaaybeeee”. It is the equivalent of a page turner, tells a neat story, in a great atmosphere with excellent voice acting and music. There are worse games for more out there. But I’d say that, if you can wait, grab it in a sale. If you like a dark atmosphere RPG with vampires, and are not scared by monsters, I’d say go for it.

Have you played Vampyr yet? How did you like the game? And did you ravage through London or did you save it? I’m curious, so leave me a comment below or send me a tweet @DreadfulSanity on Twitter. I’d like to hear from you.

Until we read again.

Additional links:
Website
Steam
Metacritics

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