Dontnod Entertainment may be best known for their work on the Life is Strange series but Vampyr isn’t their first time working on an action-adventure video game. Remember Me might not have lit the charts or impressed many critics, but I enjoyed it enough – sadly, more so than I’ve enjoyed my time with Vampyr.
Playing as Jonathan Reid, a doctor who was recently turned into a vampire, you travel through 1918 London where the Spanish Flu is running rampant, and Jonathan’s incredible skills are desperately needed. What do you do when you need blood to survive, though? Do you murder innocents who turn to you for help, or do you focus on drinking the blood of other vampires and those considered criminals? Jonathan’s oath as a doctor is tested, and it’s up to you to shape how he’ll be.
Vampyr isn’t a bad game but it isn’t executed with the finesse required for it. Dontnod have used their expertise on Life is Strange to weave a web of dialogue options and different outcomes, but the action is stiff and the narrative and presentation aren’t as engaging as I’d have liked them to be. Not only does Reid talk to himself often, but he takes me out of the experience when he’s shouting that he needs to be quiet. Enemies might not take notice of the yelling vampire man, but I’d love for Reid to be as stealthy as I’m attempting to be.
You can pick up a variety of weapons, including melee weapons and firearms, to defeat your opponents and you can make use of your vast variety of vampire skills. Suck the blood of your enemies to recover your health, perform a sharp slash to inflict damage or conjure blood to create weapons or shields. Dontnod have been imaginative at creating a significant amount of skills fit for vampires, but they’re not quite as enjoyable to use in battle as expected. Boss fights and fights against vampires aren’t any more exciting than fighting a human, and the combat overall falls flat and failed to pull me in.
Vampyr is Dontnod’s best-looking game to date, but it wows more in its art direction than its actual graphics. Character animations can be stiff and clunky both in and out of combat, but the city of London is brimming with personality, and it’s just brilliant to see. Taking place primarily at night is a nice touch too, but obviously, it can’t take place so much in the day! Vampires burn, you know! Sadly, the character models suffer from janky animations, especially during dialogue.
I appreciate the authenticity in voice-acting and whilst Jonathan sounds great, again, he just talks way too much. He talks more to himself than he does to other people, and it can be rather frustrating. Regardless, there are good performances all around, so don’t let that detract you. Composer Olivier Deriviere does another great job in creating an atmospheric soundtrack, and I’m happy to see his partnership with Dontnod Entertainment continue.
Vampyr’s biggest issue is in its price. It’s a full RRP game at £40+ and I think it would’ve performed better had it been around £25-30. I was excited for the game as release neared but so much walking around looking for clues and what not to progress the story. This wasn’t entertaining gameplay and it slowed the plot down, and it almost felt as if Dontnod were still in the mindset of creating an episodic game. Vampyr is worth giving a go, but there’s a lot of potential untapped here.
Review copy provided by Focus Home Interactive