Vampyr (Game pre-review)
Vampyr gives you the experience of being a vampire. Which is not necessarily so pleasant as you might assume.
This isn't a full review, though I may get around to one later. Especially since I’ve been putting a lot more thought to game design the past couple years, specifically RPGs, and I really like some of the choices they made to re-enforce a specific experience. (Which is to one philosophy at least, the purpose of having a System or “game” at all. I would argue this is actually more true with video games, at least until they can adapt in real-time to the expectations of the players, as a tabletop RPG can when the group is really sympatico. But I digress).
Either way, I need to finish it first.
I stupidly didn’t pick Easy for my first go, so I am about 50% through... but shit is fraught.
Getting across town is a constant game of cat and mouse between hunters and cultists out to burn you, skrals (lesser vampire ghouls) and sewer mutants, all the while trying to resist the allure of huge XP bonuses for buttering up and then consuming civilians. You’ll get a full guilt trip if you go for it afterwards, though the game constantly reminds you the rest of the time that it would really be a whole lot easier if you just had one. Come on, you know you want to. They gamified being a vampire pretty well, in other words.
But it’s at the expense of ease on the player. You want to get across plaguetown? (Oh yeah, it’s during the Spanish flu of 1918 while WW1 is still raging in the background). You’ve got to do it on foot, with the help of a fairly vague map that you can call up in options. You want to know which direction is north, follow an onscreen map in real-time, or save before a particularly difficult scene? Too bad. No fast travel. Nothing that removes a sense of narrative reality.
Choices for the sake of immersion make me literally afraid to play the damn thing unless I’m feeling alert. You really don’t want to go wandering about London or crawling into the sewers unless you’re ready to be fighting for your life just to get out of there with no blood left in your body. You can’t really die for good, but you can certainly wish you could. Early in the game, I made the mistake of getting lost and winding up in a particularly wrong part of town, and fighting on the way back I think actually raised my heart rate.
I love it. I hate it. (I’m playing on Switch OLED).