Vampyr review: Latest from Life Is Strange makers gives horror fans plenty to bite into

Zombies? They’re ten a penny with a slew of titles throughout the years focussed on the slow, shuffling walking dead.

But vampires seem to get a short straw, with only a handful of truly memorable series about the blood sucking fiends released.

Sure, Castlevania has been a prominent fixture for decades and Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver has built up legendary cult status.

While Buffy the Vampire Slayer, released on the original Xbox, was also not without its charms.

But if you’re looking for a game that truly gets to heart (pun intended) of what makes vampires so fascinating, your options have been fairly limited.

All this helps make Vampyr, the latest game from Life Is Strange makers Dontnod Entertainment, stick out from a crowded horror gaming crowd.

In it you take control of Jonathan Reid, a doctor who has been turned into a vampire in London during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

The game begins with Dr Reid caught in the midst of his vampire transformation, stumbling the streets bewildered and hungry for blood.

Straight off the bat Vampyr starts with one of those gut-punching story beats Dontnod are known for.

It also underlines the moral theme of what sacrifices the player is willing to make to survive, which rings true throughout your time playing Vampyr.

Dr Reid is on a mission to find out who turned him into a vampire, the origins of the blood sucking creatures and if there’s a link to the flu.

Your quest will see you travelling through the different districts in London that are teetering on chaos.

Each area boasts citizens a variety of backgrounds – rich, poor, good, bad – and they’ll have backstories.

While some of these arcs may be small, there will be no throwaway characters that are simply there to make up the numbers.

This design choice is crucial as Vampyr gives players the agonising choice of deciding whether to feast on NPCs to help level up quicker.

While you don’t have to do this, the tough difficulty of the enemies you face means Vampyr will be much more forgiving if you do drink some NPCs blood.

The trade off to this is any side quests you could have obtained from those NPCs will be lost, as once you feast on a character they’re gone for good.

The social connections linking these characters means killing off someone you may think is unimportant could have ramifications later on.

While sinking your neck into too many NPCs can also cause the health level of a district to fall to a critical level, causing chaos to break out.

It’s a neat, interconnected system that means players’ choices have a real impact on the world Dr Reid inhabits.

And it’s a well realised world too, with the 1918 London setting of Vampyr a dark, moody locale that is dripping with atmosphere.

It looks like something that’s come straight out of a Jack the Ripper movie or Hammer Horror film and is the perfect backdrop for what unfolds in Vampyr.

There is plenty to admire about Vampyr, from its compelling and well-told story to the world it’s set in that’s teeming with life.

However, it’s not without its flaws which do hold the experience back.

The combat in Vampyr is sadly lacking, often times feeling clunky or not responsive enough.

This is most glaring in boss fights where the lack of finese with movements and attacks means you can easily get trapped in a corner.

Or, alternatively, you can have the camera spin to an awkward position at the worst possible time leaving you vulnerable to a flurry of enemy blows.

In our playtest also on a vanilla PS4 we found issues with the framerate, with it chugging and stuttering at times.

Despite this, if you can look past these issues though you will find plenty to like about Vampyr.

It has a great old-school horror feel to it, a compelling story and the ramifications of your choices mean it has plenty of replay value.

And it is arguably the best video game representation of what means to be a vampire.



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