A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Vampyr is an action role-playing game available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows-based PCs. Players take on the role of a doctor in post-World War I London who's recently been turned into a vampire. Players must deal with moral choices, balancing the character's belief in healing versus his new supernatural bloodlust. The game features plenty of violence, including lots of blood, gore, and corpses littering the environment. Other mature content in the game includes various sexual references and solicitation from a prostitute, although nothing is shown on-screen. Dialogue has frequent profanity, including "f--k" and "s--t," as well as presentations of drinking, drug use, and public intoxication.
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What's it about?
VAMPYR takes players to the streets of London in 1918. In the wake of the First World War, the city is still being decimated by the effects of a lethal flu outbreak. Doctor Jonathan Reid, recently returned from the war, has a new mission to treat those infected by the pandemic and return to his family. Unfortunately, fate has other plans. One night, Reid is attacked by a mysterious stranger and seemingly left for dead. As he regains consciousness, Reid is overcome by a thirst for human blood and quickly learns he may not have escaped death after all. Reid has been transformed into a creature of myth: a vampire. Now he must seek out a cure to his condition while struggling to maintain his humanity. As a doctor, he has sworn to do no harm. As a vampire, he must feed to survive. With a supernatural threat now lurking in the shadows, Reid has more to save the city from than the flu. He'll need to choose his victims carefully, because with choice comes consequence. Can Reid save the city without losing his soul in the process?
Is it any good?
This action role-playing game pulls no punches with philosophical moral dilemmas, resulting in one of the more original tales to be released in a long time. Vampyr's focus on moral choices drives the story. As Reid, players are constantly struggling to balance their good and evil natures. On one hand, you'll want to feed to build up your vampiric abilities to gain the power you'll need to survive the onslaught of supernatural creatures. On the other, the person you feed on now might be essential to the story later. Adding to the dilemma, feeding on humans delivers more experience than your garden-variety enemies. Plus, the more time you spend observing, listening to, and learning about your potential prey, the more valuable their blood becomes. It might be easy to drain a nameless face, but once you learn their story and they become more person than prey, can your conscience overcome your temptation for power? Who deserves to live and who deserves to become a late-night snack?
Vampyr has a fantastic and engaging story, personalized by the choices you make and the different possibilities those choices open up. But this is still an action-based game; there's a lot of fighting and bloody encounters on your quest for salvation (or damnation), and here, the game loses a bit of its bite. Combat breaks down to stringing together button presses to combine moves effectively, but the timing can feel off, making it difficult to land successful hits. This is somewhat true with the Switch version, where some slowdown and stuttering can hamper some battles, and the lack of visual fidelity compared to other systems can make it harder to see what you need to avoid in some fights. But eventually, through practice, you'll get a decent rhythm going, but it's hard not to feel like you're just going through the motions. Things get substantially easier if you're willing to give in to your bloodlust and drink up extra XP from civilians to enhance your vampiric powers. But by doing so, you risk taking Reid further down a darker path. While it adds a certain challenge to the overall experience, it's also a little frustrating to feel penalized for wanting to make the most of your supernatural situation. Then again, it's that temptation to take the easy road that makes Reid's struggle for his humanity more personal to the player as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. How can the portrayal of violence in video games like Vampyr affect younger audiences? When given the choice of violent or nonviolent responses in games, which direction do you go and why?
What sorts of choices do you make in games when given a choice? What's the appeal of sticking to the high ground or playing to a dark side?
Do you think Vampyr needed monsters and vampires, or could it have been just as engaging if it was a tale only about doctors fighting disease?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Focus Home Interactive
- Release date: October 29, 2019
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, History, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs
- Last updated: October 31, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.