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Vampirism under the Scrutiny of Science

Vampyr game review

First of all, it should be mentioned that I would talk about the game under its version on PC. I spent about forty very pleasant hours there. Immersed in a gothic universe,Vampyr is developed by the French studio Don't Nod Entertainment, the company behind the famous Life is Strange, and published by Focus Home Interactive. The type action-RPG game was released in 2018 on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.

You play as Doctor Jonathan Reid, an eminent surgeon and hematologist, returned from France where he was a doctor in the Great War. Back in London, he is attacked and then wakes up in a mass grave full of patients who died of the Spanish flu. Being terrified and disoriented, Jonathan climbs out of the open grave. A growing thirst consumes him and makes him drink the blood from the neck of the first soul he meets, his sister Mary who has been looking for him throughout London for several days. Barely understanding what he has just committed when intimidating men seek to kill him, he flees.


By chance, our protagonist comes across Dr. Edgar Swansea, member of a secret order studying vampires. He therefore suggests that he join the Pembroke Hospital where he can save patients from the epidemic which is still raging and seek a cure for his vampirism. Dr. Reid accepts while also wanting to know the identity of his creator, whom he considers responsible for the death of his sister.

The team behind Vampyr really draw us into their universe thanks to their story and the design which respects the conventions established by Bram Stoker in Dracula where blood drinkers cannot enter a home without being invited the first time (with the charm skill) or cross a river (only possible with bridges and boats). The immersion is amplified by the music reminiscent of early 20th century London and which conveys constant oppression and Jonathan's bloodlust while remaining sober.


Speaking of the protagonist, it is essential to point out the talent of Dr. Reid's English voice actor, Anthony Howell. His intonation, more particularly his way of spitting out words to show the character's resentment, sounds dramatic, proof of his career in the theater. Also, his simple deep voice was enough for me to believe his interpretation of the protagonist of Vampyr.

Subsequently, all the citizens of London are led, through the gameplay, to be well known by the player since part of the game system forces us to walk around the four neighborhoods to really get to know the people and thus maximize the experience withdrawn, if we drink their blood. Plus, the fact that they'll get sick and their deaths will impact the entire district gives us another reason to value them, even if some are more despicable in their actions than various enemies you encounter. .

The game also, unfortunately, has some flaws. The loading screens are long and they sometimes appear unexpectedly when speaking with an NPC. 


Regarding the combat system, it should be noted that the camera also becomes, at times, an opponent since it prevents you from properly dodging. In fact, the field of vision is focused on an enemy and, when you rush backwards, you receive a blow from a second enemy. Also, it happened a few times during the game that a monster got stuck in a wall, which inevitably made it easier to neutralize.


Finally, from my point of view, it is extremely frustrating to miss a clue about a London resident and, thus, not know part of their past.

Then, the game pushes us to develop our own ethics towards the lives of NPCs by weighing the pros or cons of drinking their blood. Choosing the second gives Jonathan a lot of experience and even more if you have all the clues of the individual's background. In itself, the idea is extremely interesting for establishing empathy towards the inhabitants and linking narrative and gameplay.


However, my opinion is that the player is penalized too much for refusing to kill at least a few characters; since otherwise you have to stop in the story to defeat enemies in a loop until you have enough levels to pick up where you left off.


Thus, playing peacefully is not really profitable, because the player sacrifices (along with future gains or immediate losses) experience.

However, if you believe that these less complimentary points make Vampyr a bad game, there is an error. All the points named are, in my opinion, more drawbacks and points that could have been improved rather than failures of the developers. After all, none of these negative points diminished my desire to complete the game as I was drawn to Jonathan Reid's quest to avenge his sister and find her creator, the vampire responsible for her death... and of his resurrection.

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