Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Focus Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 05, 2018
ESRB: Mature / PEGI 18
Available Platforms: PS4 [Reviewed], Xbox One, PC
Genre: Action-RPG, Fighting
Vampyr is set in London in the year 1918 during the Spanish flu. We are playing as Jonathan Reid. When the game starts, Jonathan has just become a Vampire and is confused about what’s happening to him. He kills someone dear to him without intending to and swears to never consume someone for their blood again. Jonathan is a doctor and wants to find a cure for vampirism. His speciality is blood transfusion and he’s lucky that a local hospital allows him to work for them, despite knowing he is a vampire.
The Spanish flu made a lot of people sick. As time in the game progresses (whenever you sleep in a bed to replenish your health), people become sicker. Jonathan can go around town to heal them, but it’s optional to do so.
The setup of the story is good enough and had potential but the delivery is not always great. Characters are emotionless, badly animated, the voice acting is so-so, the dialogues are dull and forgettable. It got to a point where the slow-paced dialogues became so boring that I wanted to skip them just to get back to the much better combat.
The game is a sort of Action-Fighting-Open-World-RPG. The combat is like a mix The Witcher 3 and Bloodborne. It’s quite challenging at first, but the difficulty drops rapidly with each skill- and weapon upgrade. You earn XP from missions but the main source is killing citizens to drink their blood. There’s only a limited “supply” of citizens. Killing them does come with its own side effects, such as their side quests becoming unavailable, districts going hostile (getting overrun by monsters and everyone in them dying), or merchants selling less valuable items if the overall “health” of a district drops too low. The general idea behind it isn’t bad but to the player it’s unclear why some NPCs randomly disappear, run away or turn into monsters. The game does not have manual save slots (only one autosave) so you are stuck with whatever decisions you made and if a character dies it triggers an instant autosave. I did my first playthrough without killing anyone and that’s what I would recommend to everyone. Then the combat is at least somewhat challenging. If you drink people’s blood for XP you are too overpowered and the combat turns into a hack n’ slash button masher rather than the fluid “dodge-and-attack” it is intended to be.
The open world isn’t super large but not small either. There are side quests to do, people to rescue, weapons to find and 30 collectibles to locate. You can go inside many buildings and there are underground sewer sections. It’s very hard to navigate though. I constantly had to open the map and place waypoint markers so I wouldn’t get lost. This could easily have been solved by automatically placing waypoints every few meters on your way to mission objectives. Everything looks the same and it’s easy to get lost (though to be fair, it’s always night and 1918 London didn’t exactly have flashing Neon billboards everywhere). You need keys or active side quests to access some places, many of which are highly missable if you let a character die. It’s just really really convoluted to figure out how to get everything in one run because doing one thing often cancels out something else.
The amount of weapons surprised me. There are 4 weapon categories (one-hand, two-hand, off-hand, ranged). There are many ways to play. There’s also a fair amount of skills, leaving plenty of room for experimentation to keep the combat interesting long-term. Boss Fights are the best part of the game, especially when you do a low-level run with no citizen sacrifices. What skills and weapons you pick will drastically change the flow of combat. Similar to Dark Souls or Bloodborne you have a stamina bar. Heavy weapons use more stamina per hit but also do more damage. Enemies have stamina bars, too. If their stamina depletes it will stun them so you can deal massive damage.
Your “blood meter” can be filled mid-combat by biting an enemy or using a blood-stealing off-hand weapon. Vampires need blood to use skills and heal themselves. That said, the healing skill should better have been removed or limited with a longer cooldown period. It makes the game too easy as you only need to hit an enemy once with a blood-stealing weapon and can then heal yourself 2-3 times in a row. Of course you can always choose not to use this skill, then the game becomes an actual challenge. So in essence, the combat is fun but it all comes down to how you play it.
On the technical front the game is a total failure. The graphics are worse than many PS3 games. It runs horribly, a lot of lag, frame rate drops, freezes and crashes. At one point near a small park between West-End district and Whitechapel it always freezes for me. The animations, character models, facial expressions are not what’s expected of a 2018 game (it’s like a relic from the early days of the PS3 era). Crashes happen occasionally though not too often. I ran into a myriad of game-breaking progression bugs. From the get-go the low production quality made me wary of glitches… so it was good I made a USB save game backup every 30 minutes. Without this I could not have been able to beat the game. There are sections where I got stuck in furniture (unable to move or do anything). At one point I got stuck inside a cutscene leaving me no way to proceed. It’s laughable that this game was approved to be released in this state. Be sure to make very regular backups every 30 minutes. If you don’t, odds are you will have to restart from scratch. They really should have allowed manual save slots or at least multiple autosaves so you can go back if the game messes up. But guess what, they didn’t include the most basic save mechanics every other game has.
On top of game-breaking bugs there are tons of smaller ones. The “Used Truncheon” weapon is not dropping for some people. Two trophies are glitched “Not even once” and “Weapons of Choice”. The list could go on and on. Nobody likes playing a broken game. If they had made it look nicer and fixed the bugs it would be a decent enough game but in the current state I cannot recommend it to anyone attempting the platinum.
*Overall Enjoyment Factor, Fascination with Game World, Level Design, Variety, Playability, User-Friendliness (Ease of Use / Readability / Controls / in-game Tutorials / Menus)
The combat is fun and fluid and there are plenty of weapons and abilities, but it’s too easy (even when being low-level). Your actions affect how the game plays out but it’s incoherent for the player why some NPCs randomly disappear/run away or turn into monsters. There’s only one autosave and no manual save slots (with this many game-breaking progression bugs they really need manual saves). The open world is convoluted and hard to navigate, I constantly had to open my map to not get lost.
*Quality of the Singleplayer Story, Cutscenes and/or Multiplayer Modes (whichever is available). If a game has no Story or no Multiplayer it won’t be rated (thus no negative effect on score).
Story: 5/10 (Not a lot happened. The setting had much more potential. The dull dialogues and emotionless characters made it so boring at times that I ended up skipping some stuff to get back to the combat quicker. The only good thing to come of it is the boss fights).
Multiplayer: Not available (not rated)
*Graphics, Texture Quality, Character Details, Lighting, Weather Effects, Animations, Loading Times, Number of Loading Screens, does it run smoothly
Runs poorly on PS4. Graphics and characters look like last gen, bad framerate. Occasional freezes and crashes.
*Amount of Content, Production Quality, Replay Value, is there enough content to justify a purchase
Fair amount of content, some side quests, plenty of collectibles and weapons to find, many side areas to explore, enough skills to keep the combat interesting.
*Rates how much fun the Platinum / 1000 Gamerscore is to achieve: Are trophies fun to do? Do trophies restrict freedom of gameplay? Missable trophies? Multiple playthroughs required? Luck-based trophies? Pointless farming/grinding? Glitched Trophies? Are stats/trophies tracked correctly?
Lots of missable trophies and no free-roam after story. Restrictive trophies (can’t kill any citizens) and 2 glitched trophies “Not even once” & “Weapons of Choice”. The good thing is they didn’t go overboard on the collectibles (30 total plus a bunch of weapons) and there’s a cool puzzle that was fun to figure out.
|Extraordinary Score Increase or Deduction
*Reserved for extraordinarily good or bad features that the other categories don’t cover (such as game-breaking bugs). This score is directly added/subtracted from the final score.
|-1 Point: For Game-Breaking Progression Bugs (I got lucky that I made a backup on USB or else I would have had to restart halfway through the game). Tons of bugs in general and the lack of manual save feature doesn’t help.
Vampyr is the worst glitchfests of 2018 so far.
Played on PS4 Pro, a free review copy was provided by the publisher. Earned the platinum trophy, found all collectibles and weapons, interacted with all NPCs.
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