July 19th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Vampyr is an action-adventure game featuring melee combat and advanced character interaction. It was published by Focus Home Interactive and developed by DONTNOD Entertainment, makers of Life is Strange and Remember Me. You play as Jonathan Reid, a very successful doctor who specializes in blood transfusions. In an ironic twist of fate, he becomes a vampire (called Ekons in the game, and no, the spelling “vampyr” was never used in the entire game) and becomes entangled in a mystery. The city of London has been struck with overwhelming cases of Spanish Flu. Your overall quest is to simply cure this disease plaguing London, but that’s not all. While beating crazed vampires with a large stick can be fun sometimes, you also have to help the citizens of the city. You do so by traveling to safe spots, talking to people, learning about them, and treating them for a variety of medical issues. The other twist? You get EXP from doing quests, but if you find yourself having a hard time, you can choose to feast on anyone from the populous. It’s not that simple though, killing the wrong person could result in destabilizing an entire town if you’re not careful.


DONTNOD have never really done great in the graphics dept. Their best work comes from Life is Strange, but that’s only because the art style masks the lower texture details. This game has functional graphics at best. The city streets are full of nothing but brown, grey, and dark red as if the game took a page out of the last console generation’s “realistic” trend. Reid himself is very well detailed in the amount of care that has been put into his appearance, but he is the only exception. Everyone else either looks passable at best, but more often than not they look bad. Imagine facial textures that are worse than Mass Effect Andromeda. Actually, that goes double for character animations too, as characters will sort of sway back and forth unnaturally while you speak to them, and lip sync could do with some improvements. The lighting effects seemed to just consist of very flat looks, and the shadows are very poor if they even bother to show up. I tolerated these dull graphics for the entire game but there wasn’t a single moment where I was impressed with anything.

STORY: 2/2*

I’m having a hard time with how I should score this section. The main plot is interesting enough, and if you’re a big fan of vampire stuff and in-game lore, there’s plenty to dig into. The real talent on display is the NPC interactions. In your travels you will meet people who are out at night going about their business. You can approach any of them and talk to them about how they feel, what they do, and if there’s anything you can do for them. And yet it gets deeper still, as there are special dialog options for every character that you can only learn either from gaining their trust, talking to others, or eavesdropping. Once you’ve unlocked these secrets, you can compel a character to answer questions about the information you learned. You’ll find yourself going back and forth between NPCs talking to them as you learn more and more and complete tasks for them.

This is one of the few games where helping out characters who can’t help themselves has a legitimate reason. The city streets are very treacherous and filled with all sorts of fiends, so most of the people are justified in asking you if you can help out. But all that said, there’s a bigger problem at large, as the quality of writing varies greatly from person to person. You’ll find characters with astoundingly hidden depths, and then you’ll talk to people how are cardboard cutouts. The other problem is the flow of logic when you talk to people. Also, the majority of the plot in this game is delivered by having stiff one-on-one conversations. You run into the same problem you had with games like Mass Effect 1 where the dialog options you have usually fall to “TELL ME MORE ABOUT X.” You can also have a character say something very very distressing in one interaction, and then immediately go back to their default mood if you ask them basic questions. Overall, the case here seems to be a solid example of quantity over quality, and your mileage may vary on this fact.

AUDIO: 1/2

But, here lies the other problem with the plot. The quality of voice acting also leaves room for a lot of improvement. While core characters are relatively good with their delivery, the same cannot be said of all the NPCs. A lot of the characters have very wooden dialog and can sometimes sound like they were simply rehearsing the lines and but accidentally made that the final cut. A lot of the accents don’t sound genuine, and there were even a couple of times where their accents slipped into something else. But that’s enough about the characters. The game is redeemed with a really rich, soulful soundtrack that matches the aesthetic of 1918 London, while also not being afraid to add in some more modern touches. The combat also has some satisfying sounds, with blood splat, thwacks, flamethrowers, and gas guns all sound exactly as they should.


As said before, the game revolves around talking to people, healing, and completing investigations. At first, the doctor treatments were interesting but it soon became tiresome due to an interesting but very stressful game mechanic. Before that, let’s talk about the combat. It’s a bland, slow and deliberate system with some sluggish reaction times to button presses and seemingly unfair fights that are based solely on numbers. If you’re level 15 and you face someone at level 18 or so, you’ll find that no matter how hard you hit them, nothing tends to hurt them until your level matches theirs. This is especially true of bosses, who have a mountain of health and are relentless. I haven’t had boss fights this bad since Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The melee itself is a generic take on the Souls style, but it simply lacks the depth and response that makes those games so great. What’s worse is if you are under-leveled, you have to do a load of backtracking to find a place to level up and then make your way back. You also do not get your health syringes or bullets back when you die from a boss battle. If you used all of your health packs you are shit out of luck.

And here comes the interesting part. Leveling up. In order to use your XP to upgrade abilities, you need to sleep. Find a bed at a hideout or return to your room at the hospital and go to bed. But when you sleep, the next day arrives. Anyone who was sick and untreated will get sicker, people you healed will get better, people who were previously unhealed become sick, and any action you took in the district that deeply affects that location will take place. That’s right, you basically have to bank all your experience points and make sure everyone in the four boroughs of London are nice and healthy before you take that nap.

FUN: 1/2

Sitting back and diving deep into the character interaction is fun and all, but this game is not without a plethora of killjoys. Loading times are really long, where launching the game will send you to a black screen for 20 seconds. You have to wait for certain interiors to load and that takes a long time, sometimes nearly a minute of waiting. Dying also drops a really long wait time on you. Oh, and if you run too fast across town, you’ll get a freezeframe loading screen for about 5-10 seconds. That, combined with the crapton of backtracking you will be doing doesn’t help. Especially because there’s NO fast travel. Granted, the map isn’t too large and once you’ve run around the whole world enough (and you will), you get to learn the routes without having to consult the map. You’ll need to know the map and the community screen as you’ll also be running all over the place to make sure everyone has been healed before you rest. Again, the tedium of facing down boss fights will bear down on you, often leading to frustration as you must make your way out and then come back just to fight an enemy that has a higher number than you. But, the interactions are still fascinating in their own right.

Vampyr is a deeply flawed game, yet somehow I could not take my hands off it. Up until the day I decided I wanted to beat the game as fast as possible, I was pretty engrossed in the world this game offered. Something, I’m not sure what, just kept me coming back again and again, playing it for long stretches as I did everything in my power to help everyone. Or at least I did until I needed to beat the game quickly and just decided to kill everyone. But fancy that, interact with an NPC you don’t like? Get the instant gratification of killing them. There are a lot of personalities here, and you will definitely find some people kill-worthy. This is a low scoring game but it’s one of the best low scoring games I’ve played in quite a while.

SCORE: 5/10

Posted in Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

June 30th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Games that May have liked passed you by

The Steam Summer Sale has come to invade our wallets. Seeking to give you amazing deals on all of the hottest PC titles, you may find yourself spending hand over fist for games that you’ve always wanted to play, games you might play, and games that you’ll probably never play but you bought them anyway. There are a lot of AAA titles and Indie titles you can choose from, but this list is available to point out all the ones you may have missed for under $10. Get Even was going to be on this list but it disqualified because it’s 10.19 but that one is good too. Anyway…

1) Cradle – $6.49

Cradle is a brilliant but flawed game created by some of the people who made STALKER. But a shooter it is not. Instead, this game is a first-person adventure/puzzle game. Set far into the future, you find yourself traveling back and forth between your yurt and an abandoned amusement park, aided by a female cyborg who guides you along your journey. More importantly, this character lays the foundation for the true star of the game, the story and setting. The game really dives deep into some positively vexing concepts of transhumanism and human nature. Gameplay revolves around solving adventure type puzzles in the real world and completing a challenging block-oriented VR game in the park. The latter is an absolute trash fire of game but thankfully, the game was patched so that if you fail at this block game, you can skip it entirely and move on with the story. The ending may leave you with more questions than answers, the but the journey is better than the destination. Also the graphics are absolutely gorgeous.

2) Antichamber – $4.99

This game was made in 6 months by a AAA game studio. Just kidding, it was made entirely by one person and took 5 years. Self-published under the name Demruth, Alexander Bruce created a fascinating one of a kind experience. Narrative-free, Antichamber is a first-person puzzle game that takes place in a white maze, featuring non-euclidean geometry. What’s that mean? Basically, forget everything you know about physics and logic. Walk down a hallway and turn around and there’s a different room behind you. Find hidden rooms that you can only access by walking backwards while staring at a ring. Cross giant chasms by walking instead of running. Change the room you’re standing in by looking out a window. A true mind bender.

3) 140 – $0.99

An hour-long rhythm platforming game, play with headphones on full blast.

4) Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals – $0.99

This is a point and click adventure game based on the universe of “The Nikopol Trilogy” a bizarre set of anti-sci-fi graphic novels. The universe built in this game is unlike anything else, it is downright puzzling, as tons and tons of creative liberties were taken with everything. This game is actually the best adaptation to me personally, since it’s a more comprehensible story than the film which was just too weird to follow and the original book which was practically dream logic. You may need a guide to get through this game, don’t feel bad if you do, the puzzles are very hard right out the gate. If you’re one who has experienced P&C adventures at their peak, this is one of them.

5) Quantum Break –$9.99

If you missed this Xbox-exclusive title, now you can get the complete experience at only a fraction of the original cost. This is a game made by the auteur developer Remedy and is another game that defies definition. One part game, one part Netflix TV series, actions you choose in the video game will have an impact on the TV show that comes with it, as well as future levels. If you ever wanted to fall into the pattern of playing a level for about an hour before diving into a 20 minute episode of a show, this might be for you. The combat itself is satisfyingly challenging, making you take good use of your time-shifting powers to get through sections of the game. As for the plot, it’s a time travel story, which as you may know, can get VERY deep.

6) The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – $2.99

In case you haven’t caught on, I like unique sci-fi/fantasy games, and here’s another one. This is a first-person puzzle adventure game where telling you anything about the game is a bit of a spoiler since you’re supposed to figure out what you’re doing by yourself. Just expect to solve murder mysteries and face down some unusual encounters with the story.

7) Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days – $0.99

I think a lot of people missed the point of Kane & Lynch 2, frequently saying that it’s hard to like the titular protagonists, but that’s the point. Those two are awful human beings for the most part and usually deserve everything that happens to them. You don’t need to play the original to play this one. The heavy stylized format of the game’s visuals come from the behavior of the camera, wherein the whole game looks like you’re being followed around by some guy holding a cheap camera he found on eBay for under $100. As you fight in third-person cover-based shooter combat, the camera will never stay put unless you’re aiming. Sprinting causes a heavy shake on the camera and light sources frequently burn out the image. Not for those with nausea issues.

8) Jet Set Radio – $1.19

Play the classic Dreamcast game in HD as you ride around on rollerskates spraying graffiti. Though I greatly prefer the sequel, Jet Set Radio Future. This game became the codifier of what we now know as “cel-shading”. The game is very challenging and will leave you wondering how anybody beat this game in the first place.

9) The Void – $1.99

A game where you… okay this game is just really hard to explain in general but you’re in the afterlife and you have to collect colors and draw diagrams onto naked women and trees while also using the color to make sure your internal organs are healthy or something. I died 3 times in the tutorial in this maddeningly hard game, but I intend to play it again with cheats on just to fully experience the rest of this unfathomable game.

10) Remember Me – $5.99

Playing like an even lower budget version of a Platinum Games game, DONTNOD’s first game is a great melee brawler with a plot that is equal parts amazing and horrifying. In this sci-fi world, memories are shared as currency. Yeah, try wrapping your head around how that came to pass. Protagonist Nilin is a character whose memories have recently been wiped and must now put everything back together on what you did and why you did it. She can also do something others can’t. She can remix other people’s own memories in a very good puzzle minigame that deserves it’s own game entirely. Make someone remember something the wrong way in order to help you is all kinds of fucked up, and you’ll be shocked to do some of the things you do.

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,