There aren’t enough games in which you can play as a vampire.
Vampires are often cool, dangerous, stylish and sexy; that makes them perfect for video game protagonist fodder. Their situation also poses an interesting moral dilemma: do they see humans as simply food, or do they try to coexist and live harmoniously with them? That’s something that Dontnod Entertainment’s Vampyr addresses.
Released in 2018 on PS4, Xbox One and PC, Vampyr is a very good game. You can read our review of the PS4 version to find out why. While it’s a bit scatty in places, the story it tells is interesting overall, and forces you to make some decisions that will truly have you thinking through the possible consequences. But playing as Dr. Jonathan Reid, its most interesting aspect is how it tempts you with power.
As usual, XP is what you need to develop Dr. Jonathan Reid in Vampyr, and while you get some of it by defeating enemies in combat, sucking the residents of each of the game’s districts until their blood has drained from their body is how you grow really powerful. Finding out everything about them as well as making sure they’re healthy and happy makes their blood even more enriching, too. And so, the choice is yours: do you do your work as a doctor diligently, ensuring the safety of those around you while trying to find your creator and find the answers you seek? Or do you become a monster with the same ultimate goal but with a total lack of empathy for human life?
Do the former and you might find your life a bit harder due to the lack of blood sucking antics, but you’ll be a hero. At least in your eyes, anyway; there are many that will never accept vampires. Do the latter and you’ll get the answers you seek but at a cost. Not only your humanity, but also the future of London is at stake. It makes Vampyr a very thoughtful and compelling game indeed. Sure, there’s plenty of unnecessary and mindless combat to be done, but the real content is how you choose to play your role of a new undead with the power to make a difference.
Arriving on Switch more than a year after other formats, Vampyr benefits from additional tweaks and difficulty options. Alongside the standard normal difficulty that provides quite a challenge if you don’t decide to feed on those around you, story difficulty tones down the combat so you can pretty much breeze through the game. Hard mode, on the other hand, makes combat more difficult, making embracing citizens even more tempting when you hit a brick wall.
To run on Switch, Vampyr‘s moody visuals have of course been toned down a little. Textures are less detailed, the lighting more subdued, and many character models seem a little more blocky. It still looks nice on the whole though, if not a little blurry at times. But what’s disappointing is that despite all these downgrades, there are still moments where the framerate goes south, affecting gameplay. These framerate drops don’t make Vampyr unplayable, but many will find them irksome.
Like many games ported to Switch, Vampyr is perfectly adequate on the format, but nothing more. If you don’t own a PS4, Xbox One or a PC up to the task and have been itching to play the game, by all means pick it up; you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of it. The Switch version is the weakest available though, and since Vampyr has such a wonderfully haunting atmosphere, the downgrades and performance issues do detract from it somewhat. Vampyr is still a good game on Switch, but it’s not the best way to play it.