I was tempted to call it a flawed masterpiece but there are two issues with that. The first is that I have not completed it yet and the second is that it’s not a masterpiece. However I am having fun with it despite it’s flaws.
Vampyr is a 3rd person action RPG set in London during the Spanish flu epidemic. You play as a vampyr, er I mean vampire, who has been recently turned and trying to still be a good person and help take care of the patients in the hospital you now work for while also solving the mystery of who turned you and made you kill your own sister.
The game’s signature mechanic is that you can kill the NPCs to gain huge amounts of experience points to spend levelling your character but doing so severely cripples the world around you. Choosing to kill even one NPC can have major consequences down the road.
If you decide not to kill the NPCs and go for a “good” playthrough you can still level up by fighting the enemies scattered across London but when the choice is earn up to 6000xp from an NPC or 5-15xp per normal enemy the choice starts to become clear which is the best way to progress, at least at the beginning of the game.
I’m currently over halfway through and have killed three NPCs, which has allowed me to nearly max out my health, stamina and start to dabble with a few abilities. Without a doubt, stamina should be the first thing you upgrade. Evading in the game is paramount. It’s nearly Dark Souls level in how much you have to evade to stay alive.
While leveling up does offer you the ability to stay alive longer and deal some heavy attacks you are also able to level up your weapons via crafting. Essentially there are two tiers from what I’ve seen. You upgrade with either “common” items or “good” items and I have yet to find any “good” items. But I have been able to upgrade an axe enough to where it deals decent damage. In fact I’m at a point where I just run passed the normal enemies en route to my destination.
And that would be where the big flaw in the game comes in. The normal enemies don’t really matter and the times you are forced to fight them comes across as more of a mild annoyance. You get so little XP from them that grinding them for experience would take an eternity so they are a waste of time for me. The game would feel much more balanced if you gained more XP from the enemies so you actually felt like you have a choice in whether or not to kill NPCs. While in actuality you do have that choice, the game seems to punish you for not killing them as the game becomes more difficult as you progress and barely level up, where if you do kill them you can make the game almost trivial but you have made the world worse off because of it.
So I’m having fun with it for sure, but it took some adjusting. The only times I engage in normal fights now is to farm crafting materials or when the game forces it since it’s just a time waste at this point. But the story is interesting enough so far and I really like the setting.
As it stands, I’m happy to finish the game. I just wish XP was handled differently. The story, setting and gameplay is good enough to make the game stand out without the handicap of it’s XP system.