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Letters from the Front

 

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The Spanish Influenza of 1918 was an unusual pandemic, the first of two pandemics involving the H1N1 virus. It infected 500 million people across the world, reaching not only the Arctic but also islands in the Pacific, and it resulted in the death of 50 to 100 million people which is three to five percent of the world’s population which makes it one of the most deadliest outbreaks in modern history.  Disease had already granted limited life at the turn of the 20th century, a spike occurred in 1918 and life expectancy in America alone dropped by 12 years.

Most influenza has a habit of killing old, juvenile, or people that are already weakened but by contrast, the Spanish Influenza killed mostly young adults especially those that were being sent to fight on the Western Front during The Great War.  To maintain morale on the homefront, wartime censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in the United States, Germany, France, and Britain. However, in neutral Spain newspapers were free to report the epidemic’s effect in the country and this reporting is what led to the naming of the influenza as “The Spanish Flu.” but in Spain, a different nickname was adopted which was “Soldado de Napoles.”  which came from a musical opera that premiered in Madrid during the first wave of the epidemic.

The second wave of the epidemic was much deadlier than the first wave. The first wave had resembled usual flu symptoms but in August of 1918, the second wave began in France, The United States, and Sierra Leone. The virus had mutated into a much deadlier form because of the circumstances that had evolved on the Western Front and by the end, new cases dropped out of nowhere almost to nothing after the peak in the second wave. Nobody knows, not even a century later on how the epidemic occurred although it originated in Kansas.

Vampyr takes place at the height of the Spanish Influenza in London in the year 1918 where the influenza is not only the most pressing matter that citizens need to attend too but it’s vampires that need watching out for. In Vampyr, you take a control of a doctor who has returned home from France who is suddenly turned into a vampire, forced to hunt for blood at a time when the city is in complete disarray, thanks to the Spanish Flu. The smell of death is everywhere, with bodies literally being on the streets of London and being left to rot. It’s quite a depressing game where you have to kill the citizens of London to gain power, I’m doing alright by doing both: draining people of their blood while keeping some alive. It’s really quite depressing though and I haven’t gotten far because of it.

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Before getting to the gameplay half, let’s take a look at what Vampyr is all about so you can gain a lay of the land: Vampyr is a brand new game from DOTNOD Entertainment, the creators of Life is Strange. Vampyr takes place in the year 1918 at the height of the Spanish Influenza, which has seemed to ravage its way across London but there seems to be another disease on the loose which turns the citizens into vampires. Vampyr is the first proper full game from DOTNOD and it’s surprisingly good.

Throughout the first two halves of the game that I got through before succumbing to how depressing the game is, I killed plenty of vampire hunters to gain a lot of power but when it comes to NPC’s that you need to talk too, sometimes I kill the ones that are super sick and leave the ones that are fine okay and the game seems fine with that. I’m sure there’s a good ending if you leave some of the good people alive. The game actually encourages you to kill the NPC’s outside of the regular baddies that you encounter in the streets, of course, you’ll get penalized for your actions with a meter telling you the state of that region will be if you kill enough NPC’s and the rest of the cast will take notice of something weird that is going on. The most interesting part is that everyone is so goddamn interesting that you kinda don’t want to kill them but the game is actually encouraging you to kill them all to gain all the powers you need.

I spent the first half of the game in a BOP ( Base of Operations.) area called Pembroke Hospital, this is the most healthiest region in the world to an extent. I stayed in this region for a good couple hours, completing side quests and quests that the NPC’s give you, I haven’t really ventured far out into the game’s world outside of Whitechapel and the London Docks and there is still plenty to do in that region that I haven’t gone out and experience what the whole game has to offer just yet.

What I noticed with my early impressions is that Vampyr is a depressing game, it makes you not want to play it for too long and it feels like you’re playing two completely different games: A large part of the game is having lengthy conversations while one half mixes itself with combat.

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Half of the time playing was having lengthy conversations with people around the city. As you progress through each of the game’s chapters, each district will begin to open up to you and you’ll have to travel there. The game is all about completing missions or discovering people’s secrets to open up new parts of the dialogue trees that you have with them. The dialogue tree isn’t as open as you might think it is like in games like Fallout or Mass Effect, there’s very little branching and each conversation is set around a small set of possible conclusions.

The storyline also feels confused in some ways, the game honestly reminds me of The Evil Within 2 and how that game had some sort of difficulty figuring itself out: one part wants the game to be a mystery while the other wants the game to be like a police procedural type of situation. In reality, it just feels confused but no matter how confused it is, it’s really cool to investigate things and talk to people about this weird disease, coupled up with the Spanish Flu.

Speaking of that, Vampyr feels absolutely retro and that’s totally cool, on top of that it screams aesthetics. I absolutely love Vampyr’s aesthetics; London is dark, London is foggy, you’re walking down a dark and foggy alleyway while looking super cool in your suit and top hat. It screams aesthetic and feels immersive.

In terms of combat, Vampyr is decent at it because it feels very low risk and low key. Combat, really in part, isn’t the main focus as it is for other games; Vampyr is all about feeling immersed in the world and feeling like you’re there so combat kind of takes a step back. Vampyr takes its inspiration from games like Dishonored where you can use powers to get the upper hand on your enemies.  Your powers can allow you to dart around the combat area, dodging most of what comes your way, using a blood spear to pierce your enemies, and plenty more. Combat feels easy and there’s not a lot of challenge to it which is nice if you want to lay back and take it easy.

In the end, however, I find Vampyr to be a good game and worthy of your time despite how depressing it is. There are a few issues with the game but that shouldn’t stop you. Stay tuned for my review.

 

 

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