Is that a pun? a vampire game that doesn’t suck?

Its the damdest thing, I’ve been wanting to try this game for awhile I was just waiting for it to go on sale for the right price and it’s been yoyoing in sales for some time but my friends kept telling me not to get it. But I was tempted when it went for like 85% off but it was still over a tenner so I let it go, only for it to go on gamepass a couple of days later and what seems like a match made in heaven, I still had a week left of the gamepass trial I had.

Erm this one kinda caught me off guard, I saw some trailers for it and I thought it looked ok and then I heard it was made by Dontnod and I was like “err no”.
For those that don’t know anything about dontnod they’re the people who make the award winning millenial simulators ‘life is tumblr’ and the trumps america simulator life is strange 2. They’re basically not even games, they’re just a bunch of really autistic french people trying to make social justice passion plays with kids with magical powers for reasons in an america seen through cnn. They’re really bad and cringy. So bad I watch play throughs just to laugh at them but the idea of spending money on them is ridiculous.

I actually played dontnods first game with gameplay, at least I think it was their first game, which was Remember Me. And it was really bad, I dunno, it was just bleh, the world the characters the hook of the game, just bleh, then they release Life is Strange, it wins loads of awards and probably makes no money and that was that.

Vampyr is made by focus home interactive and they were behind the really bad call of cthulhu game and they hold the license. But they did such a hack job the studio they were working with split off with them and focus home released this shitty fps walking sim that was basically dark corners of the earth but shit. So the people that split off from them went to make the sinking city which is not licensed but it looks really good. But for legal reasons might not be able to be lovecraftian haha. I dunno, but it looks good, it actually has gameplay, so that already makes it better by comparison.

So this game did not have the best foot forward to me, it even has the voice actor who plays the main character in call of cthulhu as the main character. So it’s a really bad impression I’m getting which makes it all the more astonishing that this is probably my  game of the year.

I absolutely adored it despite all my friends telling me it was boring or commie propaganda haha. I loved every minute of it and I’m going to tell you exactly why, that’s the point of reviews I guess.

There’s so much I love about it and it’s so unique, it’s hard to align my thoughts because initially I look at games and I try to categorise them. Like ‘oh this is an Assassins creed clone’ or this is a ‘gta clone’ etc. But there’s nothing to compare this to, it’s totally it’s own thing, part walking simulator part action rpg.

My best comparison would probably be a crossover between the witcher and bloodborne but good haha. Trolling aside, I loved the witcher but it’s just too long for replay-ability purposes and the choices you makes don’t feel impactful enough for me to want to redo them (also it took me forever to get all the witcher gear and I can’t be arsed to do all that again) and I don’t want to meet the person who wants to replay bloodborne.

Vampyr is the perfect length of a game and the choices you make and the builds you can design make for a hell of a lot of replay-ability. Kid you not, I started a whole new playthrough the second I completed it the first time, the only other game I did that with was probably mgs four or dead rising maybe. It’s ten out of ten for replay-ability. There’s so many choices and angles you can come at something and the builds are really fun to tinker with. The whole time you’re talking to people investigating and trying to be an apex predator vampire. You know you’re loving a game when you’re playing it and already planning for your next play through.

The storyline is honestly great, you play Johnathon Reid a newborn vampire/doctor who has to find out who turned him and find the cause of the epidemic of the spanish flu in london. Lots of twists and turns and it did subvert my expectations and also kind of blew my mind because the end boss is basically the end boss in my Cur books. I know, it’s weird that celtic mythology would make it’s way into this but it does and its awesome haha. The characters are fantastic, of course they are, they’re like central to the game. Half the game is about the characters, who you choose to kill and who you choose to spare and the consequences of that. And it all carries this sort of depression/uplifting feel of people surviving and making the best of it, the british stiff upper lip. Like you feel sorry for them and may want to put them out of their misery or you may want to help them.

Gameplay is split into two sections, you have your combat free roam exploration like bloodborne where the streets are filled with mindless ghouls and vampire hunters both want to take a chunk out of your butt and the focus is on exploring the dingey streets of London claimed by this horrible disease.

You have a witcher-esque combat system, which I heard people complain about but I liked it, really responsive, lots of synergy with the powers. You feel like a god when you get the right mix of powers and tactics, it’s great. That’s exactly how you want to feel in a game about a vampire.

But the combat is just one half of the game the other half is the sections where you’re in a ‘safe zone’ where people aren’t being prayed upon by ghouls and there aren’t vampire hunters roaming the streets. The parts where people are just trying to survive the epidemic and as a vampiric doctor it’s your duty to cure the sick and also eat some of them.

How the game works basically is you can eat certain people based on your level of mesmerism, so some people you can’t eat until later in the game where your power has grown a little. And the reason they do that is obviously just to stop you from breaking the game by just devouring everyone you meet instantly. But you can eat pretty much everyone in the game eventually. One of my defences of this game when my friends were calling it social justice bait and having really sjwy characters in it was to say well yeah there are sort of cringy characters but you can eat them. It’s like when rdr2 has the suffragette in it but you can feed her to crocodiles if you want. But in this game it’s even better because the game never intended you to feed the suffragette to a crocodile, there’s also a suffragette in vampyr but the game fully intends and prepares for you to kill her and it affects the game and your ending. It’s a really great mechanic that has such a great synergy with the world.

And honestly now that I mention rdr2 this game actually stays more consistent with it’s morality and politics with its period. In rdr2 your belief is never suspended in regard to what time you’re in, it’s very tongue in cheek and it’s drenched in modern morality and modern racial politics and social commentary. I never really felt like it was in the time it was portraying it was just a pastiche. Whereas vampyr is a near perfect period piece that handles it’s politics and morality with a bit of a progressive bent but it’s consistent and it makes you feel like you’re in that gas light era. It’s really great and even when your character spouts progressive opinions on race and gender you don’t cringe because you can just eat that person. So it creates a weird dynamic where everything Jonathan Reid says is subjective, is he saying that because he really believes that and he supports women/gay rights or is he just saying that because he wants to lower their guard for him to sink his teeth into them? He’s played very much as a blank slate and the voice actor is great. Because you can see it in like one line how he goes from soft-hearted doctor to cold blooded killer. It’s done so well in a game where you can murder someone’s child and come back and ask the parents how it makes them feel all while you and the game knows you did it. It’s eerie in a way because he knows he’s a monster and the face he wears and the things he says are just a mask. Lots of people look at that and see inconsistency, that he’s super progressive and non-violent and wants to help people but also wants to eat them. But honestly I see a person who see pragmatism in sacrifice to his hunger and also just can’t help it. He tries to be good but he knows he’s a monster. There’s even a part where you kill this guys wife and he finds out that it was you and he has to explain his hunger. So it’s as if you’re not even playing Jonathan you’re actually playing his hunger and it’s really meta because he has no control over who he eats. It makes for a great role playing experience in my opinion.

It’s such a unique game in that respect and it sort of turns you into a monster. Because I would find myself later in the game, more so in my second play through killing people not for the XP but just to see how his friends and family would react. Sometimes I’d kill people because they were evil and sometimes I’d kill people because they were good. It was a weird experience. The game sort of turns you into a kid with a magnifying glass over an anthill and lets you run wild. It’s so much fun, criminally so, it’s almost sadistic and just tickles me in the right way. I found myself having to justify killing someone and there’s not many games that make you consider that. Not just killing someone but asking yourelf why you did it.

Also it’s a little thing but another thing that makes this game so replayable is the save system, that is, it doesn’t have one. There is no save scumming in this game, you kill someone they’re dead until you start the game over, you make a decision, that’s set until you hit new game. So it adds this sense of finality and consequence. In rdr2 and witcher 3 you can load a different save in Vampyr that’s impossible, you made that decision now justify it, live with it. A little thing like that adds so much weight to your choices, it amazes me more games don’t do that. And in the second playthrough I was shocked by some of the changes to the cut scenes because some of them turned out completely differently depending on how many people I killed and who I killed, it really caught me off guard and I loved it.

Graphics are of course great, the game looks great, its atmospheric af haha. The only cons of this game I can think that jump out at me right off the bat are the fucking loading times. Oh goly gee those loading times are a fucking crime, specifically in a game where the difficulty can be punishing especially if you do a pacifist run. But that’s a minor gripe. Some weird racial choices for characters are the only weird sjwy elements and all the black people are voiced by the same dude haha. Like he doesn’t even try to do a different voice, it’s just the same guy wearing a different hat haha. I mean I don’t care but how many black journalists were living and working in London around the nineteen hundreds? Were there even any black people here at all at that time? England didn’t really do the whole slave thing compared to the U.S and when we did we put them in plantations in the Caribbean, they didn’t come to work in England as far as I know. The blacks here now are descendants of migrants who came over after world war two I think. But the french people that made this game, I guess they don’t know that haha.

So it’s really a minor gripe, it’s not really harped on, there are some indian people and that makes some sense, we’ve always had a close relationship with india. Some people were harping on the gay relationship in the game, like it was shoved in your face. Yeah I guess ‘shoved in your face’ translates to; a hidden cutscene where you have to wait and watch their heartbeats and follow them to a secluded location to spy on them. Really shoved it in my face there dontnod haha. It was so shoved in my face I had to look at a guide to get the cutscene on my second playthrough because I wanted to kill on of them to get his sword.

That’s another gameplay element, some characters have signature weapons that are more powerful versions of standard weapons, so you can plan your killing map based on what weapons you want to pilfer. Funny thing I actually got banned on facebook recently saying I was gonna kill the gay character because he has a cool sword haha. Thirty day ban for saying I want to kill a gay videogame character haha. Facebook is a joke.

Yeah so I loved it, the gameplay, the story, the characters, the world. The only things I would change is the ability to cut off that lame ass hipster beard he has haha. If you’re gonna copy witcher at least let us get a haircut but I guess barbers aren’t willing to work at night haha.

Oh yeah that’s how the game works btw. You fight and drink people for XP and then sleep to use the blood you gained and wake up the next night but during the day people can get sick and basically the consequences of what you did the night before take effect. And if you kill too many people a district can become unstable and overrun with ghouls killing everyone. So it’s a lot like a sim in a lot of ways. You really have to pick people off selectively and think about who you want to kill and who you want to spare. And you have to heal the people to keep the district healthy, another comparison to the witcher where you mix up potions to fight harder or whatever in this you make cures to help people.

Or you can just wipe everyone out and become a naughty vampire god haha. I also forgot to mention that the amount of XP you get depends on how much you know about them. Their blood gets more delicious depending on how many of their secrets you uncover, doesn’t make much sense but its really cool. Basically you have to talk to them and other people to probe them for secrets and then look around their house maybe or do a mission for them or follow them when their heartbeat raises, when they’re doing something shifty.

It’s a lot of fun, and yeah I cheated a lot looking at youtube for hints haha.

I loved this game, I might buy it when it comes off gamepass or goes on sale again. I really hope they do a sequel, I know it won a lot of awards, which it deserves. Weird thing, it’s the first game where I was playing it and listening to the music and thought ‘damn this music is good’ and yeah it won an award for it’s soundtrack. I think it made a fair bit of money too, so I hope it gets a sequel but in all honesty I’d much prefer a prequel where you play a vampire knight in the sixteen hundreds fighting the first outbreak, that would be awesome. Like the Witcher but more historically accurate but with vampires and werewolves. Or maybe they could make a spin off where you play a werewolf, that would be awesome, has anyone ever made a wereolf game not counting that morrowind expansion pack? The worst possible scenario would be just a bog standard sequel where you play Jonathan Reid again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Jonathan Reid, the voice actor made the game, but I hate sequels where you trip over a rock and lose all the powers you gain in the first game. I hate that, it’s such lazy writing and it’s why I couldn’t get hyped for Deus Ex mankind divided, it’s just too contrived, you’re gonna tell me that Adam Jensen is such an amazing character he can’t be replaced by anyone else?

Just make a new character, Jonathan can still be in it, he could even be your maker, that would be awesome. Maybe set it in present day a hundred years later or even during world war 2, nazi vampires and werewolves, holy shit, there’s your fucking sequel haha. So those are my perfect sequels, a hundred years in the future or like four hundred years in the past or nazi werewolves haha.

Get cracking dontnod and focus home interactive, respectfully haha.

But in my opinion, this game is better than Red dead redemption 2 in almost every way. Sure it wont waste hundreds of hours of your time horse riding through empty plains and you can’t go fishing or play poker but the story and characters and gameplay are great and more importantly they serve the narrative. This game is a piece of art, it’s not just a collection of popular nonsense and pointless gimmicks. It’s totally it’s own thing and it’s great, go out and play it.