Vampyr PS4 Review

June 17, 2018 by  
Filed under PS4, Reviews & Features, PlayStation

Publisher: Focus Games  Developer: Dontnot  Genre: RPG/Horror  Players: 1  

Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One

Vampyr is a Gothic Horror set just after World War 1, and during the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish flu, so events certainly give doctor and main protagonist, Dr. Jonathan Reid, something to do. Having just returned from serving in the war, Jonathan Reid is accosted by an unknown assailant, and as well as having civilians to care for in various London boroughs, Reid now has to battle with the fact he is a vampire, and demands answers after his new transformation causes him to kill his sister.

The opening of the game acts as a tutorial as Jonathan hurries his way through dark, cobbled London streets, trying to avoid being killed by various assailants and giving you some practice with the controls at the same time. His journey comes to a halt when he finally reaches a lonely pub and also a possible lead. The opening sets up the overall tone of the game – a bleak, atmospheric London struggling with disease and conflict.

Talking to people will help you progress your adventure, or learn something new.

From here you can either follow the main quest or get side tracked with side-missions. You find yourself mostly speaking to people who inhabit the boroughs, learning about their lives, interacting with them and being able to choose certain responses during conversations. Speaking to different people will unlock hints that will enable you to choose a hidden conversation, and you’ll soon learn about different people’s “social circles”, these being the people they are connected to. Unlocked conversations will allow you to investigate incidents that people have been involved with and can lead to Reid being given a side quest.

Quests involve trekking to more dangerous territories where gangs of hunters are lurking about. These hunters each have a difficulty rating and can also be intolerant to particular attacks, meaning you need to vary how you fight them and not simply button-mash. Roaming about the area are also different creatures, such as werewolf-type beings, and Skals, which are lesser vampire people who have been mutated by the flu virus and have become particularly aggressive. After playing for a number of hours, I found there didn’t seem to be much variety in the enemies you can come across while exploring, and fighting them does become a bit samey.

Upon completing missions or achieving certain goals you’ll gain XP; even doing something such as reading a note you find will reward you with XP. XP is used to upgrade Reid’s vampire abilities, and this can be done in hideouts, which are unlocked and located about the map.

During the game, your actions can effect the overall health of each of the boroughs. The people that live there can become ill, with Reid using his medical expertise to help them feel better, in turn improving the overall health of that borough. However, ’embracing’ – or killing – the inhabitants will lead to the borough’s downfall. There’s some risk VS reward to be had in this, as whilst embracing inhabitants will give you a huge boost in XP, allowing you to greatly upgrade, the area will become chaotic, becoming infested with extra enemies. Choosing to kill an inhabitant can also cause you to lose any vital information they might have, including any side-quests.

Reid is a vampire and as such he has various special abilities, with blood acting as your ‘mana’. Reid has three vitality bars – health, stamina and blood. These can all be upgraded to make Reid the ultimate vampire, with the blood used to invoke special abilities during combat. Some of these include being able to stop the bloodflow in your enemies veins causing them to become paralysed and allowing you to attack them, and a power which enables you to deplete an enemies health bar, resulting in them blowing up when it has emptied – these amongst other such pleasantries that Reid might feel the need to dish out.

If an inhabitant is ill, Reid will gain less XP if he embraces them.

As well as his powers, Reid can also wield weapons. He can carry up to four weapons, two main and two secondary, and can switch which ones he uses. Weapons have their own statistics and effect how Reid can use them; some weapons allow Reid to absorb blood from enemies, in turn increasing his own; some will greatly drain his stamina because of the weight. Reid can also carry a number of serums that he can use at any time, to give himself a boost of stamina, blood or health. So you’d think with all this to his advantage – powers, serums and weapons – that Reid would be a bit of a force to be reckoned with, though I found he somehow still managed to succumb to the beatings of bosses or stronger enemies pretty easily, even when he is at an equal level.

Yes, it does seem bosses can be more powerful than Reid, even when he is at the same level. This is probably due to the fact he can still be fairly weak if you haven’t been upgrading his powers. I am currently at level 24, and it still seems there’s a way to go to fully powering him up. Of course, this is because of the decision-making when it comes to inhabitants – killing them would allow Reid to upgrade fairly quickly, therefore allowing him to take down these bosses no problem, but, because I am trying to allow people to live, Reid is still rather weak in comparison, despite being the same level. So this is a bit of a demonstration as to how the choice-based consequences work – kill inhabitants and upgrade quickly, and dish out a pummelling to bosses; or let inhabitants live and take a pummelling yourself.

As mentioned earlier, Reid also has the ability to ’embrace’ inhabitants. This is Reid’s ability to ‘Mesmerise’ and performing this will allow him to gain control over a person, walking them over to somewhere discreet and then feasting on them. As mentioned earlier, doing this will give you a huge boost in XP, allowing you to upgrade quickly, though if you haven’t completed that person’s missions or unlocked all of their conversation hints beforehand, these will be lost. One strange thing about this Mesmerising ability I noticed is the fact that Reid can perform it freely in front of others, and they don’t bat an eye. If someone does go missing, characters in their “social circle” may react later on, though upon seeing you hypnotising a person, no one says a thing. Some stealth elements could possibly have been added here, Reid having to wait until people are in particular places and then grabbing them rather than mind-controlling them in front of others and having no one question him. This is at odds with the fact that Reid is trying to hide his vampiric state, and yet performs suspicious actions in front of people that no one questions.

Reid’s vampiric sense highlights blood, allowing you to follow blood trails and find people by seeing their circulatory system.

Other events that Reid can take part in includes spying on inhabitants using his special x-ray vision ability. If a person is performing a suspicious action, Reid can see their hearts glowing and he can position himself so that he can watch a small scene play out. This will unlock yet another conversation hint that Reid can confront them with, but there’s not always a satisfying outcome to doing this, instead the subsequent conversation leading no where. It would have been enjoyable to have this incorporated a bit more though, as you spy on very few people.

Overall, I found Vampyr to be an enjoyable game, and whilst perhaps your choices don’t always influence the outcomes, and there’s not much in the way of consequences for your actions (good borough, bad borough – that’s basically all you are deciding, as far as I can tell), I still enjoyed roaming the dark, cobbled streets, beating up the bad guys and feeling superior using Reid’s vampiric abilities. I enjoyed the struggle between choosing whether or not to ’embrace’ a person, as I genuinely would prefer to have all these people live, though it does seem nigh impossible to upgrade and progress without killing someone.

I found chatting to some people to be a bit of a bore, though enjoyed watching them during any spying sequences, and do wish there had been more of this. I also enjoy the story and seeing how Reid copes with his new identity, though I do have to wonder why he feels it’s more grotesque to feed off a rat than a person, commenting about his ‘thirst’ every time he has to resort to drinking a dirty rodent, and saying nothing when feasting on people. It’s a game that doesn’t really bring anything new, but is still interesting to play nonetheless, one of those games that manages to capture and hold your interest, and leaving you thirsty for more.