Vampyr (Review) Xbox One

Vampyr (Review) Xbox One
Review Score:

Developed by Dontnod Entertainment, Vampyr is a 3D action RPG that sees the player in the  role of Jonathan Reed, a doctor who returns home to London after participating in the ‘Great War’ of 1918. Jonathan isn’t himself, though. He wakes from a deep slumber to find himself in a mass grave with an insatiable thirst for blood. After rising from his ‘resting’ place, Jonathan encounters his sister, Mary, who he kills by feasting on her blood. 

The townsfolk quickly catch on to Jonathon’s thirst-quenching antics, and they chase him through town. This is where the game begins, as the player runs through the dark, misty streets of London to avoid being killed. Along the way, the player is confronted by groups of armed assailants. These short excursions serve as the game’s tutorial. Once completed, the player discovers an abandoned house to escape sunrise. From there, the player briefly learns about Jonathan’s ‘creator’ and his mission to find a cure for his condition.

Vampyr’s world gives the impression that its quite large, but in actuality it isn’t. The game world is divided into four districts that can be visited based on the mission objective. In addition, these locations can be adversely affected by the player’s actions and decisions.

The majority of the game is spent inside Pembroke Hospital, where the player must investigate Jonathan’s infliction and work the night shift as the hospital’s live-in doctor. While the game doesn’t have a morality system per-say, the player is confronted with the following dilemma – assist in the recovery of the hospital’s residents or murder them for sustenance. Despite what the player decides, a certain degree of interaction must occur between Jonathan and his patients before anything can happen. This involves gathering clues, studying habits, and maintaining relationships to build a form of trust. Since the game includes 4 possible endings, the player can finish the game without murdering anyone (including the citizens who walk the streets of London), but this will prevent Jonathan from leveling, and it will severely limit his combat abilities (more on this in a moment). 

The game does a good job of following the vampire mythos. For example: aside from turning his victims into vampires, Jonathan has a skill called ‘Mesmerize’ that allows him to control the actions of weaker targets. This skill can be used to uncover information important to the story and to seek out new victims without being spotted, among other things.

A skill tree is used to enhance Jonathan’s powers. This system relies on experience points that can be earned by investigating a victim or consuming human blood. Moreover, new abilities – both active and passive – will unlock when enough blood is consumed. These abilities include, but are not limited to – the ability to heal; increased bite damage; new attack skills; and blood absorption, among many others.

Combat is of the average, hack ‘n slash variety, as the player dispatches humans and the undead alike. Jonathan can use a variety of weapons, including firearms and melee weapons to kill his foes. While effective, these weapons cannot compare to his vampiric skills, which unlock when a level is gained. For example: The Bloodspear skill is an alternative to firearms. This ability not only has a long reach, but it’s actually stronger than most guns. This skill can also inflict damage on multiple enemies if they are standing close enough together.

The Claws skill replaces close-range melee weapons, while also providing the player with some defense. Since this skill uses ‘stamina’ at lower levels (which depletes during combat), and not precious blood (which sustains Jonathan), the player can use it more often in combos to inflict additional damage. As this skill levels, it will use blood to reduce its cost in combat.

The aforementioned skills are just two of the many that will unlock during the course of the game. In addition, a variety of ‘Passive’ skills  – including Body Condition (which increases Jonathan’s health), Bite (an ability that strengthens Jonathan’s bite), and Blood Capacity (a skill that increase’s Jonathan’s health) – unlock to help the player survive the unforgiving streets of London.

Vampyr’s biggest strength is its dialogue-driven story. The game’s diverse use of character interaction weaves a dark, compelling story that compensates for what is typically a slow experience. The NPCs who inhabit Vampyr’s world all exhibit unique personalities that can change based on the player’s decisions. This adds to the game’s replay value, as it allows for different outcomes when the game is played more than once.

Vampyr is a dark, gritty game that does a fantastic job of depicting the vampire mythos. There are moments when the game feels sluggish, but this is remedied by great character development; an intuitive combat system; and a compelling storyline. These elements alone make Vampyr a worthwhile investment.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Xbox One (Also available for PS4)
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Focus Home Entertainment
ESRB: M (Mature)
Price: $59.99

Vampyr Official Website:

Review Score
Dark, gritty environments set the mood.
Professional voice acting enhance the experience.
The starts out strong, but slows down once the player reaches the hospital.
Despite the sluggish gamelay, Vampyr is a fun experience.
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