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Dontnod Entertainment and Focus Home Interactive's Vampire-themed action-RPG Vampyr is now available on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It offers you a chance to roam the streets of early 20th-century London, decide which of the citizens to use as a snack and which to spare, utilize an assortment of vampire powers and engage in plenty of conversations. And if that sounds like something up your alley, you can grab the Steam version for $49.99 or your regional equivalent, while the console editions will set you back $59.99. You can watch the official launch trailer right here.
A good number of reviews for the game have already gone up, most of them fairly lukewarm, so before you pick the game up, you may be interested in checking a few of those out:
PC Gamer 68/100:
There’s a lot of interesting, high concept stuff in Vampyr, and I love how Dontnod has used the tropes of vampire fiction to create a simulation of life as a vampire. London makes for an atmospheric setting, with buildings looming ominously through the fog and a dark, oppressive feel to the cobbled streets. But it feels like a game at odds with itself, veering wildly from compelling, dialogue-driven storytelling, to flat, uninspiring action, and back again. I never really fell in love with Reid either, a grim, relentlessly self-serious chap whose charisma seems to have been sucked out of him along with his humanity.
It all comes off as a missed opportunity, and you feel that if Vampyr had focused solely on either combat or narrative design it could have done something truly interesting, and more importantly satisfying, with either of them, instead of stretching itself thin. As it stands it feels more like a Jack of all trades, and though it talks a big talk about the consequences of taking and sparing lives, it does seem to prioritise combat over story, especially since the former is an unavoidable fact of afterlife and the only reason for unlocking hints and taking lives for XP is to bulk up your arsenal of spooky skills with which you'll take even more lives, but the kind that don't actually matter in the grand scheme of the narrative.
What’s struck me most about my time with Vampyr is that it manages to turn you into a predator through its mechanics as much as it does with its storytelling. It does collapse under its own weight by the end, but the fact that it so effectively seduces you, almost trance-like, into roleplaying a villain makes it worth biting into.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun Scoreless:
I’m frustrated that Vampyr falls just short of truly combining a smart choose-your-own-adventure game with a meaty action one. It’ll never happen, but a director’s cut that thins the sombre exposition and eases the medical busywork, injects more pep, and makes decisions decisions, rather than often either a roulette wheel or a railroaded path, would create a dream combination of darkness and light. Nonetheless, as a sprawling midnight world of tight fights and atmospheric exploration, this is a fat vein I keep returning to.
Vampyr isn’t without flaws, but I had a lot of fun with it. While the dialogue system feels like an unexpected misstep, the combat, setting and story all make up for that stumble. Stalking through London and inciting fear into the hearts of the overconfident hunters felt fantastic. The spooky setting is filled with short but juicy stories worth finding, places worth exploring and detail worth appreciating. With a more interesting dialogue system, it would have been marvelous. As it stands, overlooking the occasional visual bugs and graphical lapses, Vampyr is still great fun, but like all undead, you’ll have to take the negatives with the positives.
Yes, this game tested my patience something fierce. To make matters even worse, the loading screens ranged from about fifty to fifty-seven seconds long, and they were plentiful enough for me to get fed-up rather quickly.
It’s weird because, despite the constant interruptions, I genuinely did enjoy my time with the game. The atmosphere is thick, and the characters are all remarkably well-developed. There’s a wonderful dissonance between the way you’re forced to attempt fitting into society and the inevitable pull of giving into your baser instincts.
The story may be a tad lackluster, and the combat may be clunky as hell, but Vampyr does offer a compelling adventure for those looking for some blood-sucking fun. It also manages to effectively make you feel like a creature of the night at times. Unfortunately, the frequent technical issues sapped just about every ounce of joy from the experience, leaving this digital world a dry, lifeless husk.
Hardcore Gamer 4/5:
It takes some doing to find a middle-ground between two such conflicting genres, but Dontnod have done a terrific job marrying Adventure and Action RPG elements into a pleasant and modestly cohesive whole. Though some technical blemishes and unconvincing choices in the artistic/aesthetic department do stop the game from achieving excellence, Vampyr‘s vast assortment of stand-alone moments and finer details alike end up making this harrowing journey through an epidemic-plagued London more than a satisfying experience. Vampyr is, in the end, a cleverly orchestrated series of tense uncertainties and genuinely difficult choices, sprinkled all the while by some pleasantly dynamic spots of world-building and opportunities to progress, regardless of play-style. But it’s the moral ambiguity of its choice-based actions that are most resonant — the joy, ironically, lying once again in seeing one’s decisions unfold. With a wide assortment of characters to consider and a brilliantly-integrated soundtrack to match, though some tasks can feel like unwanted busywork, for those patient and willing enough to invest the time and effort, Vampyr is undoubtedly another rewarding and impressive feat of gameplay and narrative fusion that Dontnod have treated us to.
Vampyr does have some flaws, but they tend to be relatively small and forgivable – the kind that happen when a dev succeeds at an ambitious goal but overlooks small details. Certain dialogue sequences drag on for longer than they probably needed to – it is more talkative than an elderly person at a bus stop – and the campaign often jumps between letting you make significant story choices in one mission to taking those decisions out of your hands for another. A romantic subplot arrives completely out of the blue, mostly as a heavy-handed setup to care about a specific character. (A dark vampire romance actually could have been interesting, but Vampyr is not Mass Effect on this front.)
There are also regular bugs and design flaws. Some are quite charming, like when an enemy clipped through a wall, got stuck, and resorted to insults. Some issues were confusing, like how a hidden path let me bypass a scripted sequence that characters kept referencing in dialogue. (The sequence triggered when I was backtracking later on.)
All the same, Vampyr is a remarkable game that gives me genuine hope for the future of single-player RPGs. What it lacks in polish, it makes up for in ambition.
PlayStation Universe 8/10:
There's no denying that Vampyr has some mighty rough edges to it and combat that is decent, but unspectacular. Yet there's a delicious sense of place to it that makes it undeniably interesting to get stuck into. Many of the game's flaws melt away as you get lost in the moody grime of this alternate version of wartime London. The most important job Vampyr had to do was to present a compelling game about the tragic romanticism of being a vampire, and the fight for retaining humanity or embracing the unnatural power it brings. Vampyr does drop the ball on many small things, but it does that important job superbly.