Vampyr

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2018 has been a great year for going off the beaten path.  While not up to the high bar set by Hellblade and Echo, Vampyr represents exactly what you hope to find in the AA/Indie space.

Vampyr is a mid-tier western RPG that, while a little rough around the edges, has an engaging, sometimes thought provoking, story and reasonably compelling gameplay.

Okay it’s never going to be game of the year contender, crowded out by big budget noise, but it is a game you really don’t want to overlook.

The title character is a vampire (with a stylistic ‘y’) in Edwardian London.  To juxtapose his position he happens to be a war doctor returning from the trenches and is employed by a local hospital.

While the story focuses on the how and why you become a vampire, the gameplay focuses on curing the sick in the surrounding London boroughs and defending citizens from a vampire infestation.

This brings up the most interesting facet of the game.  To fight other vampire, in true RPG fashion, you need to level up your character.  The main way of achieving this is by feeding on citizens.  However sick citizens don’t level up as readily as well citizens, so you need to cure them first.

This leads to a strange position where you curing characters you know you want to kill.  And, then there’s the moral choice of which characters should be killed.  The brilliance of the story is how often you can get this wrong and the unforeseen knock-on effects of removing NPC’s from the game world.

For all that’s good in the game, there’s plenty to remind you of it’s mid-tier status.  Like most I tried to play good and not feed but that ramps the difficulty up to “Souls Status” and the first fight convinced me a more murderous approach was needed.  That said many fights felt out matched and the pacing and need to level up was slightly misaligned.

But that’s like more an issue in my gameplay style and previous experience in this type of combat than an issue with the game itself.

The issue with the game itself is the dialog.  There’s far, far too much and it goes on far, far too long.  While you’re given copious conversation trees, none of them have any real meaning other than exposition.

Certainly I can’t remember any choice have any real impact on story.  There’s no branching narrative…just narrative, lots of it.  And at first you might think it all optional, until you realise that characters and story won’t progress until you’ve exhausted all dialog options.

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