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Games S.M.A.R.T.

The S.M.A.R.T. on Vampyr

http://www.vampyr-game.com/en/media

Developers: Dontnod

Price: 49, 99 euros

Available on: Xbox One, PS4 and PC

Review console: Xbox One

A bit about the game:

Vampyr is an action-RPG with a heavy focus on narrative, where you play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, waking up in a mass grave with an overwhelming thirst for blood, he must survive the hunters trying to kill him, control his thirst for blood, and figure out the connection between the supernatural reality he is now part of and the Spanish flu influenza that is destroying London. The game is set in 1918 and features a deep narrative experience with dialogue choices and a deep ‘embrace’ system, where Jonathan can find out about the 60 citizens of London’s districts and decide whether and who to kill in order to sustain his blood thirst, as well as a challenging combat system with room for experimentation and customization.

Gameplay: 7/10

Points for:

  • In-depth combat system, which does not require you to explore it, but if you do it is fun and interesting.
  • Inspired and intriguing systems like the ‘embrace’ system and its consequences on the story and the world, which make the game feel fresh and special.
  • Even the more traditional systems, like dialogue choices, are well executed upon.
  • Sherlock Holmes-esque elements, such as investigations and questioning the citizens, work surprisingly well to deepen the world and the mysteries of the story.

Points against:

  • Despite the depth, combat feels weightless and the camera is awful.
  • ‘Embrace’ system is, unfortunately, not balanced correctly; you don’t need to ‘embrace’ citizens as the combat was easy enough and XP being available from fighting respawning enemies, thus the consideration was never made.

 

Visuals& Technical Performance: 4/10

Points for:

  • The style is appropriate with the game’s mood and story, with some neat comic book styled interlopes.

Points against:

  • Rough technical state, with frequent bugs and crashes; some were game-breaking, others were frustrating, unfortunately no fun or ‘whatever’ bugs which really harmed my experience.
  • On top of that, the ‘open-world’ areas were filled with loading screens and dying was met with a long loading screen, which was infuriating to say the least.
  • While the style was appropriate, it was monotonous and the assets, character models and environments don’t look that great, with some looking atrocious.

Sound& Music: 7/10

Points for:

  • I really liked the sound design for the various actions and interactions.
  • I was a fun of the soundtrack, even if it is one gloomy, moody and melodramatic note. It was appropriate and really well done.
  • Voice acting was pretty good; accents aside, they were all over-the-top theatrical and melodramatic (like the vibe of the game), which gave them the opportunity to translate emotions and situations in interesting ways, a chance the actors used very well.

Points against:

  • Both the sound design and music are one note, and I wish that on combat encounters and commonly used actions, they had a bit more variety and proficiency. In any case, the sound was neither excellent nor awful, somewhere in the middle.

 

Story: 8.5/10

Points for:

  • Excellent characters throughout the game; all 60 citizens are various shades of grey, with no one being completely evil or good, making mundane and simple decisions feel important.
  • Dialogue options, resting to level up (which also advances time) and ‘embracing’ a citizen, have so many interesting consequences in the world and story; it’s a fascinating system that deserves to be used again in various contexts and games.
  • Although the story is a bit predictable and cliché, with vampire analogies and metaphors not being tampered with, it is still very well executed and interesting; the mystery, the overall story and the side-stories were all intriguing and entertaining at the very least.
  • The writing, in general, is great; some exception here and there, but reading the collectibles and engaging with the story was a blast from start to finish.

Points against:

  • Some forced story moments, a few misleading dialogue options, and a story that had potential to be excellent but only reaches great, keep the overall narrative from becoming amazing.
  • It’s a shame that the narrative essentially boils down to another ‘save the world/you are our only hope’ situation, especially since the most interesting feature is about resolving a deeply personal dilemma.

 

Overall: 6.6/10

Once again, the numerical value given to the game is not reflective of my experience. Yes, the game has a ton of technical issues, it is visually uninteresting and ugly-looking at spots, the combat is not that great, and the most important and interesting mechanic is not utilized to its full potential. Nonetheless, there is still a lot to like about the combat, the ‘embrace’ mechanic and the overall narrative; it did not reach its potential of being an excellent game, but it got to be a good game with an interesting premise and mechanic. It won’t shake the industry, it won’t become your favorite game, but it is certainly worth a try and it might even become a cult hit or that game you liked enough that you want to defend it and promote it, despite its problems.

As always the G.R.IN.D. is recommended for those who want a more in-depth analysis. You can find it by clicking here.

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