Gaming most famous grey man – Kratos – isn’t the reference that we’re making. The Grey Man, or Grey Man Directive, is a concept from urban survivalism that treats of the capacity of an individual, male or female, of blending with the environment, no matter where he or she is. To keep this facade, the individual keeps the least possible suspect behavior and adapts to the needs of the environment which he intends to be part of, always using the common background to hide his skills and diverse trainings.
Jonathan Reid – you – has to fastly adapt to this concept that he doesn’t know, but learned from militar experience. The past of our protagonist is ideal for the fate that falls over him: army veteran surgeon specialized on blood transfusion techniques. There’s possibly no better profession for a newborn vampire. Character chart bonus.
Speaking of which, it’s very important to warn: although it doesn’t make direct references, to those who played Vampire The Masquerade will seem that DontNot took a lot from it’s universe to compose Vampyr. Vampire skills, society behaviors and such remind a whole lot of VTM.
The game’s setting is from a very peculiar momment from history – 1918, high of the First World War. Recruitment pamphlets can be seen on all of London – And the city’s empty. I can’t remember of another game that has positioned itself away from the frontlines during the Great World Wars, but it ended up being perfect for the narrative of Vampyr. The streets are inhabitated by the few that weren’t drafted, and for those that were not consumed by the epidemic. Jonathan ends up having a big margin of security to adapt with his new unlife.
Before anything else, let’s talk about the fact that the high point of the game is something that it doesn’t has: alignment meter. DontNod created Life is Strange, so it was safe to expect a significant focus on the story. What you don’t expect with Vampyr is the way that the story catches you. After some absurdly convenient initial events for Jonathan, you’re freed in the city to start to interact with its citizens. Almost every RPG player already has that modus operandi: main quest only after speaking with everyone and clicking at everything possible. That’s a behavior that can make the beginning of the game a little dull, since you do get introduced to the characters, but they don’t have any significant exposition within that timeframe. In a moment, that I’m not able to pinpoint exactly, the game’s universe hooks you in. Probably when you start to contemplate the fact that your food is society itself. The abscense of any moral compass ingame makes you reflect about who you intend to consume (the game tells you from the beginning that consuming citizens gives you incredible power – a lot of exp, in this case) and when. I, the player, started to set some boundaries: kill scum. Misdemeanors, killers, thieves etc. Conforming you get in the story, you start to notice that some people won’t be missed by anyone. Other characters aren’t necessarily evil, but are doing evil to accomplish their personal agendas. The more complicated ones, after a while, are those that you see that are walking to a decision that can negativelly affect many lives.
Which one of those is your limit?
You proceed to categorize the importance of lives by their impact on society, or any other parameter that you, the player, stabilishes. It’s immersive to a point where you catch yourself really thinking about the consequences that your actions have. Coolest of it all is that the game auto-saves, so you can only make other decisions if you start another save.
About combat: it seems inspired on the Soulsborne school: stamina gauge, two weapons in each hand, exclusive button for dodge – and adds the vampire skills in the middle. A point that I’ll come back to comment is the number of crashes ingame. Until this review closing, the game broke or froze 10 times. There have been 3 patchs since initial download, all stability patchs. Crashes kept on happening.
Music and graphics are complementary works. UI could be more polited, but it does it’s job. Music inserts itself as a mist on your thoughts and you see yourself crossing London aisles (when the game doesn’t crashes) surrounded only by the low sound of your steps.
IS IT WORTH THE PURCHASE?
My advice at the moment: wait a week. DontNod will have time to fix the crashes – that don’t seem to be from the game stress – and you’ll avoid the nervous breakdown. Vampyr is an astounding game, but these structural problems may be hard to overcome for the dev team.