Vampyr review – a beautiful premise wasted in this bland action RPG

Jun
05

Vampyr review – a beautiful premise wasted in this bland action RPG

Great Gothic horror is all about colour, or lack thereof. The black of night, the white of bone, the monochrome of a gloomy cobblestoned street illuminated dimly by a single paraffin lamp. When colour is used, it’s to highlight scenes of the macabre and the morbid so beloved by penny dreadfuls – the yellowing of a lonely mouldering corpse, the fetid green bile of a plague victim, or a single bright glob of crimson gore. Where it should never exist is within the realms of beige.

Vampyr is an action RPG that attempts to get right back to the roots of great Gothic horror in a medium that is often criminally lacking. Jonathan Reid is a renowned doctor specialising in blood transfusions – what else? – and serves as a military doctor in the Great War before being attacked on a London street one night by an unknown assailant and transformed into a newborn vampire. Who his Maker is, no-one can say, but soon Reid is embroiled in a plot to find the source of the sickness and figure out why a bunch of secret mystical orders are suddenly making a reappearance.

The set-up is rushed through in an angst-ridden prologue that places you in the aftermath of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, which at its height claimed millions of lives. In the midst of all that, when bodies lined the streets and fear and chaos gripped the nation’s capital, who’d notice the absence of a lonely Whitechapel shopkeeper, a vicious Dockland gang-leader, a friendly West End grave-robber? It’s buffet season for the immortal undead, but as a man once sworn to do no harm, will you partake?

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