Vampyr has been out since 2018 but only recently I’ve been discovering videos on the internet about it from the past few years. This game caught my attention back in 2017 and it became the only game I was genuinely looking forward to as it had two things I like most, vampires and… never-mind. I can’t say it seeing what situation the current world is in. As a stand-in second thing, it’s science. I feel like the vampire game genre could never get overdone unless someone makes a Twilight video-game, that will be the day the genre dies. And science? Well, that’s something that is always changing. It will always be interesting.
You start Vampyr as an early 20th Century doctor, Dr. Johnathon Reid. Your mission is to help citizens through a pandemic, the Spanish Flu, but you’ve been cursed to spend your days as a vampire which makes you want to kill the people you vowed to help.
You are told from the very beginning that if you want to get powerful fast, killing citizens is the way to go…but know this, you will end up becoming the very thing you swore to protect them from. Now I know this doesn’t seem similar in the slightest to a souls-like game but bare with me.
Each decision that you make in Vampyr has a knock-on effect. You have to keep track of different districts to make sure that they remain healthy and every interaction with a citizen can lead them to a better life or it can lead to their death, whether it be at your hands or someone else’s.
Hideouts: Crafting & Leveling-up
Whenever you find a hideout in Vampyr, you get the ability to upgrade weapons, make medicines, scrap materials to use later, and level up your character. This freedom is incredible as you have to think and plan whether or not it is really worth levelling up a shitty shiv that you’ll end up throwing away later like the moron you are.
It’s remarkable how in detail each item’s description is, it further makes the game more immersive and that much more interesting. This is more similar to the weapon upgrade mechanics of Bloodborne but it is still a wonderful experience.
Now here is where we get into what I think is the Souls-like aspect of Vampyr, the battle mechanics. As someone who is used to fighting by running straight into a battle and just swinging weapons around hoping to take as many enemies down with me as I can, this is not the game to do that in. Can I say I learnt that lesson quickly? No, no I can not. I still do it, but not as frequently.
You have to go into the battle carefully as you would in Dark Souls and similar games, dodging and timed attacks are vital. You do have the added benefit of supernatural abilities which do come in extraordinarily handy but they do require a decent amount of blood in order to use them.
Blood Points & Stamina
Blood is Vampyr’s equivalent to mana and is something that you rely on heavily and cry when you run out just as you need to heal yourself. However, it can be collected if your weapons have the ability to drain blood. You will notice that stamina is also important to keep track of, especially when you have to keep using it to dodge powerful attacks as well as using normal weapon attacks.
If you have felt the sheer terror of running out of stamina to dodge an attack in Darksouls or similar games, you will experience this fear in Vampyr as well. You will be pleased to know that the camera lock-on is available in this game and I have found it extremely helpful when tackling multiple enemies and/or bosses.
This is one feature that is annoying if it is used against you. You using it against monsters? Fine, brilliant in fact! The ability to interrupt an enemy before they do a combo attack is a vital ability. It has saved me numerous times from getting KO’d when I have slipped up. You know that feeling you get of complete and utter panic as you see a monster wind-up for a heavy attack, you’re almost out of stamina but you have just enough to land a shot to interrupt? The feeling of landing a successful interruption is wonderful. There is just this wave of huge relief that washes over your body. That feeling happens often in Vampyr and does not get old.
There are plenty of varying levels of monsters in Vampyr, each one more than capable and willing to tear you a new one.
Priwen Rookie: A basic member of the Priwen Guard, the easiest vampire hunter to kill. They generally use melee weapons and are the least likely to instigate a fight but they will still mess you up in big numbers.
Priwen Cadet: Generally more experienced than Rookies and are either wielding guns or flaming torches. Don’t underestimate these weapons as they can do some serious damage. It is best to take them out quickly so that the flame damage doesn’t overwhelm you.
Priwen Gunner: They are similarly easy to take out as the previous two except they have a semi-automatic weapon. They generally stand still which leaves them vulnerable to shadow and blood powers. It is best to take these guys out quickly as they can deal constant damage.
Priwen Brawler: These guys are tanks, that is their purpose. They’re one of the more noticeable ones as they are stockier than the others in the guards. They are resistant to more than the previous three, physical damage and ranged so it is a good idea to save your blood powers for these. They are not afraid to use their shotgun to nail you with hard hits or run you down like a rugby player. But as that saying goes, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”. These guys are slow as hell.
Priwen Executioner: These guys have a classical weapon here, a crossbow. This weapon allows for long-distant attacks which will make gaping it from the enemies more difficult than usual. Be cautious because they also may use a gas grenade which is annoying as hell. Thankfully these guys are easy to take down as they don’t have melee resistance.
Chaplain: These are some big boys!! These guys also have a giant stick with a cross on the end. But wait, there’s more! They will then use this to stun you and if you are unlucky – they will use the holy beam of light to drain all your stamina and can deal aggravated fire damage. Good luck to you. May Go- nevermind. You have to be extra careful to not become too arrogant with these guys, despite being slow, if they get a chance they will use a combo of attacks to deal major damage. These guys are also resistant to supernatural abilities, so say goodbye to your more effective weapons. Good luck.
Rogue Skal: The most basic of the vampire race. They’re pretty much the ugly version of the Rookie. But in saying this, they can deal some heavy damage and are just as unpredictable than the human foes. Best to use blood and shadow attacks on this lot if you don’t want to fall victim to their physical resistances.
Ferocious Skal: The angry and slightly stronger, ugly vampire. These foes can deal chained-aggravated damage which will knock down your health faster than you can keep track of. Stick to a distance, keep moving, and you should be fine. Just mess these guys up before they get the chance to ruin you.
Dazzled Skal: These annoying fellas have high shadow resistance and will be annoying with their spit attacks if you stray too far from them. Their physical resistance is low so get in there and hack them apart before they dissolve you with their plague puke.
Blinker Skal: These are probably one of the most annoying monsters you will face in this game. Never let your eye off them. They can disappear in a cloud of smoke and appear somewhere else, typically behind you where they will tend to try and rip your neck apart. There are also versions of them that can spawn shadow versions of themselves that can also attack. Keep moving. Don’t stop for even a second because you will get hurt. Just to make things more difficult, there are also Ill-Formed Blinkers that will leave a cloud of toxic gas in the area from which they disappeared, best not to think too much about that one. Use Coagulation to still their movements then lay a flurry of attacks on them. Be smart.
Beast: These, thankfully, don’t turn up too often but they do like hanging around where you least expect them. They essentially look like werewolves but are just another strain of the vampire mutation. Their attacks are slow but they deal aggravated damage and aren’t afraid to chain attacks together. They move quickly but they also do end up tiring themselves out which leaves them vulnerable to attacks. Be careful with them.
Ekon: Run. These guys are annoying and difficult to take down. Best to leave them to the Priwen Guards and jump in as they near death. Just avoid them at all costs because they will mess you up.
One thing that is for certain, do not get arrogant when it comes to fighting in this game. Be careful and don’t let the enemies get out of your sight least you end up their dinner. This game, for me, is one of the more enjoyable souls-like games I have played and is easier to manage than most. Now you may be thinking “This doesn’t sound much like a souls-like” and you’re not wrong but not quite correct either.
Souls-Like Aspects: Extras
Currency: Blood-experience & Blood-points
Like in other souls-like games there is a level of currency that is lost on death, it may not necessarily be left at the previous spot where you died, but you do lose it nonetheless. This currency is your blood experience as well as how many blood points you have available for your vampire abilities.
The blood experience points are what you use to level up your powers/abilities to become a stronger more talented vampire and just like in Dark Souls, you require more and more in order to level up. Sometimes I am grateful that there isn’t just a floating mass of bloody-experience waiting for my beat-up body to retrieve it, but it does make it all the more exhilarating trying to get them before you die next.
In regards to the blood points needed in order to use your powers. This is definitely more frustrating than losing experience points, as it’s a bit more difficult to get them up unless you’re clever. I often found myself frantically searching for rats so that I could get what little blood I could, so I had a vague sense of hope going into battle. If you had the right abilities and upgrades on your weapons, you should be fine but you’ll still be upset when you die and the bar is near empty.
Similar to other souls-like games, each area in Vampyr has doors and/or gates which may be shortcuts to previous areas or different areas entirely. These definitely come in handy when you want to avoid fighting through dozens of low-level monsters or even skip past some higher-level ones. One thing that is similar but not exactly the same is that you have the ability to use a teleport-like ability to get to higher or lower places which often bypass enemies (handy when you encounter Econs for the first time). Often areas may only be unlocked after certain events which can be annoying but it doesn’t take away from the overall experience of the game.
Be Careful, Young Econ
Vampyr, like many souls-like before it, is difficult and may even cause the death of controllers, keyboards, mice, on your way to completion. When you get the hand of the overall mechanics you will feel unstoppable. This is a trap. Don’t fall victim to your ego.
You have two paths ahead: One leads to never-ending suffering, blood, power, and fear; The other leads to, struggles, generosity, admiration, and peace. You can be the one to save the world or the one to end it. Choose wisely.