'Vampyr' is a Deeply Flawed Game, But That's Exactly Why It's So Memorable


#1

Most video games, especially big budget ones, arrive with rough edges sanded off in favor of putting their best foot forward. This often means leaving some measure of ambition behind, because there isn’t time to make it all work. Vampyr is not one of those games. It’s one of the most frustrating games I’ve played in a long time, an experience with deep and obvious flaws that make it outright hostile to the player experience. But it was also a game I couldn’t put down because the world, characters, and strange systems wouldn’t let go. Over 30 hours, Vampyr proved as confounding as it was charming, which is why it’s so damn memorable.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/ywea3x/vampyr-is-a-deeply-flawed-game-but-thats-exactly-why-its-so-memorable

#2

I too am finding myself really enjoying Vampyr despite its flaws. Though the combat is starting to become more trivial in the part of the game I’ve recently reached, in the beginning I was actually impressed by the fact that the game was not afraid to kick your ass or bar your way with enemies that would kill you in a hit or two. And the penalty-free deaths make it so that if you really want to keep trying until you come up with a winning strategy, you can (the free respecs help with that, too…P.S. Shadow Mist is fantastic). I do agree with Patrick that it feels like it’s lacking a little something; I wish the hits felt better and less floaty etc. And ye gods does it need fast travel. They just released the first update today so I’m interested to see what’s changed.

The politics of the game and character development are what have really kept me interested. Yes, they give you another white male protagonist, but also a lot of people who aren’t afraid to challenge him (and other characters like him) on his privilege and relatively narrow perspective, including, in an early main quest, a nurse who escaped from an Eastern European country ravaged by war who now steals medicine from the hospital to keep the poorest residents of the city alive without pay. She’s just one of the many badass female characters in this game. These people are rarely, simple, too…there are plenty of shades of grey here to keep you uncomfortable about who deserves to die, though unfortunately there a few cartoonishly villainous characters who practically scream EAT ME. I really wish they weren’t there because it would make the choice to feed so much more agonizing.

I think I’m only about halfway through but I have to say that I’m really pleasantly surprised by Vampyr. I’m very interested to see where it goes from here.


#3

What its missing is a sword cane


#4

I hope there is always space for and enjoyment of games like Vampyr. What a less vibrant space gaming would have become if B-Tier games went away entirely. I appreciate that the developers tried to give as many paths open for interpretation as possible, some games close down ‘possible readings’ of the games content by slipping in a content to hint at what they don’t mean - unnecessarily. For instance, if you wanted to use favored ‘film theory’ interpretation to explore the game’s themes, it seems to have not closed off many avenues to do so.


#5


#6

I really enjoyed this game. I found the game’s “combat ending” quite underwhelming, but I thought the coda after was a nice way to wrap up the characters. The characters and setting definitely felt like the draw as opposed to the game’s main plot, especially once the 3rd act played out. I liked the atmosphere, but once the game started giving answers to it’s mysteries the story started to become a bit banal.


#7

So I stopped playing about an hour in when E3 came around but I returned to it today and I’m maybe 6 hours in and I love it! The combat is pretty cool so far though I know it will likely get old at some point, but for the time being I’m enjoying the dance of managing blood, health, and stamina all at once.

As for the ambiguity of dialogue and systems, I haven’t had too much trouble but that’s only because I remembered what embracing referred to in this world before making the choice involving nurse crane. That wording is ambiguous and very misleading. I think it would benefit the game to make some of the wording of choices much clearer. But the story and systems overall are amazing. Looking forward to playing more over my next two vacation days!


#8

This is a really excellent review that makes me really want to play this game. I’ve always been attracted to games that aren’t necessarily “good”, in a typical sense, but just go for it in some respect.

Alpha Protocol seems to be the obvious comparison (well, the really obvious comparison is Vampire: The Masquerade, but I only played a bit of that before being put off by some of the stuff that game does) – with severe jank and unfun combat covering up some pretty revolutionary work done in the storytelling department. I haven’t played that game since I was 16 and I have a feeling that it doesn’t hold up especially well, but I remember loving it in a way that you can only love a piece of art that’s slightly broken and weird.


#9

So I just embraced someone for the first time and holy crap! The presentation around it is so, so extra and so, so good! Whenever the choir music starts up in this game it is so hauntingly beautiful.


#10

Sorry to necro this thread, but I’ve been playing a ton of Vampyr this past week and my god does this game have its fangs in me. It’s the first game in a long while that has me thinking about it constantly. I’m just irrationally annoyed that I have to do other things, like shower and go to work, that gets in the way of me playing some more. I’m so far doing a no-feeding run on the default difficulty, and despite the presence of difficulty spikes and so-so combat, I’m determined to see this through. It’s got me reconsidering my stance on difficult games. Whereas before I would write off the soulsbourne genre as too much “work”, between Vampyr and Ashen I realize that I don’t mind difficulty as long as it’s tied to valuable stakes (i.e. the building of Vagrant’s Rest or the stability of London).

But yeah, Vampyr is absolutely a flawed game and I totally get its mediocre Metacritic scores. But it’s pushing all the right buttons for me. I played much of the game with my OG Xbox in view of my entertainment center, and I couldn’t help but note how the engrossing nature of Vampyr was similar to the KotORs and Morrowinds of the first Microsoft machine. The game is simply a charming throwback to a type of game they don’t make much of anymore, warts and all. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


#11

I’ve just started it as well.

I’m not sure it has it’s fangs in me yet, to use your pun ;), but I’m been enjoying what’s been presented to me so far.

I started the game on hard, actually. I want to be hit with a brick wall of difficulty, so the game forces me to make hard decisions about who I feed on. So far, the game has been challenging, but not terribly difficult yet. I have just gotten to the hospital, and I’m looking forward to some actual roleplaying now.

I was a little put off by the first ‘branched kill,’ it’s presented as a tutorial instead of an actual choice, so I killed the subject not knowing that it would count against the web of people in a district. At least they made that first kill kind of a scumbag, so you don’t feel TOO bad about it, but yeah… That made me scratch my head.


#12

The game is more than manageable without feeding for the first chapter or two. At a certain point a boss popped up that really put the pressure on, and that’s only on normal. Don’t worry, unless you’re a no-hit soulsbourne player, you’ll hit that wall soon enough.

And yeah, the game could’ve used another pass at designing the UI/explaining systems to the player.


#13

Combat is easily the worst thing in the game, and though I worried about it being too easy on normal difficulty, you definitely hit a wall a few chapters in, at least on a pacifist playthrough. That said, several of the characters practically ask to be eaten, including (spoiler deleted, cuz i can’t get the spoiler tags to work on my phone). The game is good at empathy, so even the obvious villains that get placed in your way have ways of making you question your bloodlust. The blood economy is unbalanced imo, but at the same time, I was happy with the ending I got, and I definitely could’ve been more merciful on the whole. No spoilers, but the conclusion was way more satisfactory than I could’ve ever hoped.


#14

i only ever heard about this game through the grapevine, and it looked pretty interesting, but no review told me whether or not i could be gay in this rpg or w/e, and if you’re gonna be straight what’s even the point of being a vampire tbh?

so i guess my real question is: what’s the roleplaying in this game look and feel like? any good?


#15

Vampyr’s main character leans more Geralt of Rivia than Commander Shepard in the pantheon of RPG protagonists. By that I mean he is a very well defined character and you’re more inhabiting the role than traditional role playing. There are no real romances in the game, save for one major character who you can express affection for through dialog. I don’t believe there is any consummation either. So yea, short answer, no, you can’t be gay in the Bioware sense of the phrase.

EDIT: End game spoilers. I finished the game last night, and word of warning, the ending is super straight.


#16

i can unlive with this


#17

Gonna stick my neck out and say it’s bloody great to see how this infusion of new players has resurrected the thread.


#18

I played the crap out of this game up until just after that early boss fight, which nearly broke me. I really want to dive in again fresh now and I’m wondering if I ought to just use the new Narrative difficulty mode or try again on Normal like before. The combat was my least favorite part of the experience (though I didn’t hate it) but I also don’t want to breeze through without having to consider some tough choices.

I really do love this game, though, warts and all. I am aching to get back to it.


#19

I’m playing on normal, and while I appreciate the tension that it facilitates around the feeding mechanic, if the combat isn’t doing it for you then play on Narrative difficulty. Whenever I replay the game that will definitely be the difficulty I play it on (or just consume all of London and become uber powerful).


#20

In my experience, whenever I hit a particular difficulty spike, I would later discover that the game intended to gate me out of a side quest, but didn’t make it clear. After some problems with a mid-game boss, I decided to clear as many side investigations as possible before moving on to the next story beat. Still had some challenges from time to time, but the game is certainly easier with some upgraded vampire skills.