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Vampyre review

Vampyre review

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by June 11, 2018 Reviews

Sure, they have super strength, can turn into wolves or fog and live forever but it still sucks being a vampire. And, I am talking a REAL vampire not any of those teenage sparkle vampires. Ugh.

Vampires can only come out at night as sunlight barbecues them. Holy symbols scorch them and of all the seasonings in the world, garlic keeps them at a distance. It is no wonder doctor Jonathan Reid in Dontnod Entertainment’s and Focus Home Interactive’s Vampyre is none too happy when he is transformed into one of the living dead. 1918 London is in the grip of the Spanish flu which is the perfect camouflage for a vampire or in this case, a “vampyre’ outbreak. People who die from the flu are returning to life as vampires so London is getting two epidemics for the price of one.

Doctor Reid skills are needed more than ever but he is torn throughout the game between saving, protecting lives as a human being or taking, sacrificing lives to strengthen himself as a member of the living dead. This relentless moral dilemma is at the core of Vampyre’s gameplay.

You can finish the game without taking a single human life but honestly, where is the fun in that? That would be like playing a boxing game and never throwing a punch. Since Vampyre is an action-RPG, the only way to level yourself up, to gain new powers, attacks and abilities is to feed on your fellow human beings and with a vampire hunting Monster Squad on your tail as well, it is probably best to chow down.

The abilities are a dream come true for any fright fan. You can mesmerize people, turn into fog and teleport short distances, suck blood to gain strength, have hyper senses and all manner of brutal attacks.

Vampyre is only a semi-open world game as to complete the main quest you basically are tracking a path, and are being guided along by following trails of blood or information you glean from the locals (breakfast, lunch or dinner). You can elect to participate in side quests such as…get this….returning someone’s wallet or hunting down various citizens you want to consume, but keep in mind that interfering with community residents does have its consequences. The neighborhoods themselves contain sensitive relationships that if undermined spark unexpected outcomes.

As a doctor, Reid is tasked with the obligation to assist these neighborhoods that have been ravaged by the flu by crafting various cures or medicines. Ingredients and crafting tables are scattered around the neighborhoods and your base of operations. You can elect to just let people and their communities fall but what kind of jerkwad would do that?

While the graphics and animations are sadly more previous-gen than current-gen and the load times rival that of an old-school c-64 game even if you had a Fast Load cartridge installed, the atmosphere is eerie. The fog-shrouded London streets are the perfect backdrop for such a ghastly gothic tale and Olivier Deriviere’s music, which combines both orchestral and industrial tones, is the perfect soundtrack providing a really sinister and haunting ambiance. Vampyre is downright creepy at times.

Vampyre stumbles into the sunlight though when it comes to the combat controls. Even though you can target a particular foe, you will still flounder around as the camera just like a toddler suffering from a sugar rush; it just doesn’t want to behave. You can lock on to your enemies, however, when many of them can teleport around like bloodthirsty Nightcrawler clones, you will find yourself swinging blindly around hoping against all hope that you will hit something, anything. If you already have a receding hairline, that doesn’t need any more help, this game is probably not for you.

If Dontnod Entertainment had just taken the time to refine the faulty combat controls and frustrating load times, Vampyre would be a great title not just a good one. While it is just one aspect of the experience, it is a very important one considering there are boss battles that are not optional even though you can successfully complete the game without killing any humans. Besides improving the graphics a tad, all of the other elements are all on point. It is just unfortunate that Dontnod came so close yet remained so very, very far. If you can somehow forgive Vampyre for its fatal flaws there is some spine-chilling awaiting you, if you have plenty of patience.

THE GOOD
Cool vampire powers
Unnerving atmosphere
Amazing soundtrack
Decent story
THE BAD
Unpolished combat
Irritating load times
Mediocre graphics
Linear gameplay
6.5
Fair

Review Summary

Vampyre is so disappointing because Dontnod Entertainment and Focus Home Interactive had something really special but because they didn’t come through on those crucial finishing touches to take it to the next level, it all slipped through their fingers.

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John is the Managing Editor at Culture of Gaming. He is a veteran Canadian entertainment journalist with 20+ years of experience. He is currently covering Big Brother USA, Big Brother Canada and Survivor for Corus and is the co-creator, editor, contributor at SLAM! Wrestling. Check out his comic book Cover 2 Cover blog.
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