Vampyr is an Action-RPG that released during the course of 2018. Developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Focus Home Interactive, you play as a vampire who’s also a doctor and the complications that come with that combination. Fast-forward to 2019 and Vampyr has made its way onto the Nintendo Switch thanks to a port by Saber Interactive. Does Vampyr work on the Switch? Mostly, yes.
Players take on the role of Jonathan Reid, a doctor returning to London in 1918, following the Great War. The game starts with Reid awaking in a mass grave and once regaining consciousness, has an intense bloodlust. It isn’t long before he discovers that he’s no longer human and has abilities that make him particularly deadly. As Reid, players will have to come to terms with their new hunger while also fulfilling the function of a doctor.
I quite enjoyed Reid’s story and the characters that supported it. Playing as a vampire and a doctor had some interesting moral choices attached to the unique situation. Featuring a dialogue wheel, players will be able to choose how best to handle conversations and also the situations that may arise when choosing a certain option. Additionally, how you play and the choices you make will ultimately affect the various districts of London and they really feel impactful. All of this, coupled with the atmospheric nocturnal aesthetic of the city make for a memorable experience.
Vampyr also features some great character development. Reid’s constant struggle with the duality of helping citizens versus feeding on them is portrayed well and is one of the best parts about the narrative.
Vampyr’s gameplay reminds me very much of Soulsborne titles but with less focus on an extreme challenge. You’re able to equip a weapon in both your main and off hands, with main being your primary source of damage and your off hand being used to stun your enemy. Combining this with the ability to dodge and lock onto your enemies and all actions being dependant on you having enough Stamina, the combat is awfully reminiscent of From Software’s Bloodborne. Additionally, you’re able to unlock vampiric abilities, which inflict an incredible amount of damage, at the cost of blood. Your blood can be replenished by feeding on an enemy once they’ve been stunned. It’s a fun time and unlocking more devastating vampiric abilities is a blast. It can take some getting used to when you start the game, but once you get the hang of it, it’s quite enjoyable.
Depending on how you play, it’ll have an effect on London. Preying on innocent citizens will have a negative impact, but will provide you with enough experience points to purchase and level up abilities. Playing the game without feeding on innocents will maintain Reid’s position as a doctor, but will make levelling up a rare occurrence. It is possible to complete the game this way, it’ll just be a little different. It’s an interesting mechanic and I loved the ability to choose how I wanted to play, plus the investigative manner of how Reid goes about choosing his prey was great.
Being a port to the Switch, it’s almost a given that there will be some noticeable visual downgrade. It’s fine for the most part as the focus on Reid isn’t too bad. However, it’s when the focus switches to NPC’s and other supporting characters, that the presentation appears significantly muddier. During one of the earlier cutscenes, this became immediately apparent to me when I struggled to make out the features on another character’s face. The frame rate also tends to jitter a bit now and then, in addition to there being some unexpected (and surprisingly) loading screens when venturing into some of the more open areas. It’s a little disappointing as it ruins the immersion and the atmosphere that the Vampyr strives to create.
Vampyr is an enjoyable vampire romp through a gloomy version of London. The story and its characters are great and there’s some decent character development on offer too. The gameplay is also a fair amount of fun as you engage with enemies in a deadly combination of melee and devastating vampiric attacks. Plus, the moral dilemma of your progression is tied to feeding on innocents is a nice touch. The performance issues are a little troublesome, however, and can put a serious damper on the overall enjoyability of the title. It’s a shame because Vampyr is such an atmospheric experience.
Vampyr is available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4
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