Review: Vampyr: Is it Better When You Cheat?

About this Game

Vampyr

Publisher

Focus Home Interactive

Developer

Dontnod Entertainment

Release Date

5 June 2018

Console

PlayStation 4

Time to Plat

25h

Platinum Difficulty

Medium

Online Trophies?

No

Difficulty Trophies?

No

Support Us

Follow Us

Putting Myself Through a Nightmare so You Don’t Have To

A little while ago MrZhangetsu went to heck and back by playing through and platting Vampyr, documenting his experience in a Review for the site. If you read his review, you will quickly realise that he had a bad time playing the game.

In his verdict he stated “but there’s likely fun to be had if you use the Infinite XP glitch which would remove combat as an obstacle.” And, well, I put that to the test.

Vampyr Infinite XP Exploit/Glitch

In order to get infinite XP in the game you will need a physical copy of the game and a USB Keyboard.

When you put the game disc into your PS4 you will need to immediately cancel the update which adds to your downloads. If you have some sort of next-level high-end business internet that can download the whole update in a second, then you will probably want to disconnect from the internet until you are done with the exploit.

Launch the un-updated game with your USB Keyboard connected to the PS4 and play through the first section of the game until you reach the first safe-house and go to bed.

Vampyr from here to eternity trophy screenshot
You will get this trophy for resting in the first bed.

When you sleep in the game, you’re presented with the RPG-style upgrade menu allowing you to buy skills for the main character “Johnathan”. You spend EXP which you can only get by “Embracing” the citizens of London, essentially killing them. This can be problematic, as you risk losing the ability to complete side-quests or acquire collectibles by doing this, but you also get locked out of the worst trophy in the game:

Trophy Image

Not Even Once

Finish the game without killing any citizens (not unlockable in Story Mode)

So, in order to plat the game, you need to get by with very little exp and be hugely underpowered against every opponent in the game. Something MrZhangetsu had to put up with. 

However, while on this screen, if you pick up your trusty USB Keyboard and hold both the “O” and “P” keys simultaneously Jonathan’s exp will slowly tick up while the keys remain held. Just keep buying skills and holding the keys whenever you need more exp. I had a helping hand from MrZhangetsu who held the keys for me while I bought skills, speeding the process up a little. I felt better knowing there was an accessory to my crimes against trophy hunting.

I didn’t buy any skills in particular, I had very little experience with the game from my initial, short-lived, legitimate play-through and MrZhangetsu couldn’t remember which skills would be helpful – obviously having purged the memory from his traumatised hippocampus.

Armed with as many skills as I could buy and a level 50 main character, I headed out with great confidence that I would have a better experience than MrZhangetsu.

…But did I?

How easy is the game after cheating?

Dontnod have added themselves to a long list of developers who have a diamond rod in their pants over Dark Souls and the series’ famous combat system. So, naturally, they tried… and failed… to emulate it. This resulted in a frustrating combat system with serious input lag leaving you literally fumbling in the dark. 

Luckily, that didn’t matter to me!

For the first few chapters in the game, I breezed through combat, taking out most enemies with just one hit. Towards the end, enemies were around level 32-37, still paling in comparison to my level of 50 and even the bosses would go down in just 3-4 hits at most. So, in a way, MrZhangetsu was correct and cheating did remove combat as an obstacle.

Vampyr work in progress trophy screenshot
My skills were the most overpowered part about my arsenal, as my base attack strength was still somewhat dictated by the weapon I used and how much I had upgraded it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t remove every other horrific thing about this game. Allow me to summarize;

First up, the story is so dry and uninteresting. It’s your standard cut and dry Vampire storyline packed from front to end with tropes but that’s the least of its issues. The story is delivered in a generally poor effort from everyone involved. 

The dialogue is written as though the writers were desperately trying to prove they were smart and had to convolute every line with poetry and big-boy words until they collapsed in fits of seizure from the sheer size of their unimaginably big brains. Although, really it just comes off as try-hard edgy with a pebble-dashing of cringe. It took every fibre of my being to not mash  through every dialogue exchange and spare myself the boredom.

Vampyr dialogue
Just look at these goofy expressionless 3D models…

There are the occasional cutscenes, seamlessly hidden between dialogue exchanges with a few clever camera movements, which is a decent effort. Except the voice-acting is pretty dry and there’s little-to-no emotion present in any given scene. Everybody is just morose and depressed. I mean, really. 

The world is going to pot around these people but the delivery of the lines makes it seem as though nothing all that bad is actually happening, they’re all just as disinterested in what’s going on as I was, frankly.

The dialogue does shine, however, in comparison to the rigid animation of the characters. Also, almost all of the real action – something which would take effort to animate – is hidden off-screen or obscured in some way. Methods which are actually quite commonplace in videogames… About 8 years ago.

Overlooking the story, the game is at least semi-open-world. I add the “semi” because the game likes to block you off a lot. They took another page from the souls-borne book, by having shortcuts become unlockable as you progress, allowing you to return to places you’ve already been much quicker if you find and open the relevant gate… from the right side.

Vampyr man knocking
I did quite enjoy this gentleman walking around knocking wildly on people’s doors telling them not to welcome any strange people who come knocking on their doors.

Seriously, 90% of the shortcuts are just gates you need to open from a certain side. Following that, they open both ways. There’s no latch, no lock, no explicable reason for this, it’s just how it works.

This works in souls-borne games because you go through an absolute ordeal to travel a great distance and reach the next area, but in Vampr they just serve as a mild inconvenience, making you go around one or two extra buildings, never travelling very far due to the small size of the map. But maybe I’m just not seeing them for the saving grace they might be, because the combat was nothing more than a mild inconvenience for me.

Perhaps with difficult combat in the way, the map begins to feel much larger than it is. 

Speaking of the map… The environment is yet another let-down of this game. There is little to no diversity in the environments, everything is just dark and damp, rotted and crumbling. There is nothing interesting to see and the labyrinthine layout makes it very easy to get lost.

Vampyr dull environments
Get a load of these drab environments!

The game does have a compass at the top of the screen, which works very well for games like Skyrim which have huge open spaces to navigate and a whole country to navigate, but Vampyr has a small, claustrophobic map made up of narrow streets and tight alleyways, making the compass practically useless except for giving you a general idea of where you placed your marker.

Ultimately, I ended up just hitting  to open up the in-game map every time I reached a crossroads in order to find my way to my destination.

My last major upset with this game comes from how it performs. I’m playing it on a PS4 Pro, but the game would frequently crash on me. It crashed on me 4 times in the 2 hours I played it just this morning. Not only that, though, here is a nice list of all the issues I repeatedly faced with the game’s performance:

  • Loading the game up fresh takes an insanely long time.
  • Loading screens between different areas (e.g. the sewer and the streets of London) would take 1-3 minutes.
  • The game would drop frames if I move through an area too quickly.
  • The game would frequently freeze up and display a loading screen as I was playing, which would take a very long time to pass.
  • There was a significant amount of input lag.
  • Embraced characters would fall to the ground and immediately clip through it, spasming wildly and reducing the game’s framerate.

It’s important to note that I did actually update the game after exploiting the save and so none of these issues are due to me running an older version of the game, it’s just poorly made. I got so fed up of the game crashing and then being forced to sit through the long loading process all over again. Every time I spoke to a citizen there was a 10% chance the game would crash and every time I embraced a citizen there was a 50% chance of it crashing.

Vampyr loading screenshot
The game would frequently freeze up and load like this for what felt like an eternity.

In summary, I’d say I did actually have an easier time platting the game than I would have had without cheating, but it really did not improve the game’s other flaws in any way. I did not have fun. I did not enjoy the game. I do, however, regret ever deciding to buy it. I was fooled because Dontnod’s Life is Strange games are fantastic.

My Illegitimate Vampyr Platinum Experience

Obviously, I started my playthrough off by cheating, as I’ve made very clear, but I did still need a plan in place in order to get the platinum in the smoothest way possible, avoiding multiple playthroughs.

The first 2 trophies to ensure I got were:

Trophy Image

Just Take a Bite

Embrace Clay during your first meeting with him

Trophy Image

Merciful Release

Let Clay live during your first meeting with him.

This was fairly simple. As soon as I got off the boat after acquiring the trophy “At dawn we row” I closed the game (it autosaves) and backed up my save to the Playstation Network. I then loaded the game back up and embraced Clay. After he died and the trophy popped, I quit the game, downloaded my save backup and continued through the game, having let him live.

The aforementioned “At dawn we row” trophy.

Now, I share my PS4 game library with MrZhangetsu, which means my PS4 is not set as my main console on my account. This prevents games from being backed up automatically to PSN so I didn’t need to worry about that. You might, so look out for that and ensure your console is not set up to automatically upload save data.

After that crucial point, I played through the story with complete disregard for collectables and weapons (my first mistake), doing a few misc trophies along the way like upgrading weapons and eating rats. After just 4 hours I had reached Chapter 6 and created a new back-up save by uploading my save data to the Playstation Network again. From there I finished the game’s story, netting the irritating Not even Once trophy.

Following that, I went around the map gathering collectables, which took longer than the actual game, probably would have been quicker had I done it as part of the story, but as I said, that was my first mistake. As I was hunting for collectables I also healed any sick citizens I could until I had the relevant trophy.

Vampyr Hippocratic oath trophy screenshot
Be sure to heal 10 civilians for this trophy.

With the collectables gathered I was certain I could start killing people off to get this trophy:

Trophy Image

London’s Burning

Turn all districts to hostile status

So I did, getting weapons as I went along and it was going very smoothly indeed. Until I realised I couldn’t get the last weapon I needed; Newton’s Saber. I had accidentally and unwilingly locked myself out of getting the trophy, here’s how that happened…

For one of the trophies I needed to sleep 3 times:

Trophy Image

Unlife is Strange

Save this poor plant with water

Once you water the plant for this trophy you need to sleep thrice and then check the plant. I read online that you can sleep despite civilians being sick as long as they are not hostile. Once a location becomes hostile, people can begin to die from sickness. Luckily for me, no locations were hostile, so I went ahead and slept 3 times.

Vampyr Unlife is Strange Trophy Screenshot
If only I had left this one until last…

To my surprise, on the third night, someone I had never met died randomly. I assumed that perhaps this was supposed to happen since I was assured that people cannot die unless a region has a hostile status.

Anyway, long story short, that guy was Newton. I could no longer get Newton’s Saber. It was the last item I needed and the only thing standing between me and the platinum trophy. So, I made every region hostile for the relevant trophy and then reloaded my backup save, thinking “It’s okay, I only need every Melee weapon, I have the off-hand and ranged trophies so it won’t take long.”

Oh, poor, naive me.

One of the melee weapons is a secret weapon tied to a puzzle tied to the collectables. To figure out the puzzle you need every collectable to find the combination specific to your save.

Interesting tidbit; the combination is indeed unique to every player, but not totally unique, as my combination was still exactly the same after reloading my backup save. Sadly, even though I was smart enough to write down my combination, it didn’t work. The game registers whether you have every collectable or not and as I no longer did, the combination – while correct – would not work.

Vampyr Puzzle Clue on Collectible
Some collectables have symbols hidden on them. They key to the puzzle for the “Bloody Roots” trophy.

So, yes. I had to get every single collectable again. And since I only had a few, it took me another 3 hours to get them all again and then gather up every melee weapon to finally get the trophy. I genuinely nearly threw in the towel and admitted defeat. Which would have been a fitting end to my journey for such an ill-deserved attempt at the platinum.

I pretty much hated the whole experience and hated myself for being stubborn enough to keep going, even though I was having a much easier time than I would have without using an exploit. I don’t know how MrZhangetsu put up with it, and I have a lot more respect for him now, knowing what he went through.

Verdict

Pass

If you have any respect for yourself, don’t play this. Go play one of Dontnod’s Life is Strange games instead, they’re actually good at making those.

Pros

  • You can exploit it with a physical copy - reducing the length of the torture if you really want that platinum

Cons

  • Performs poorly
  • looks crap
  • plays poorly

No Trophy

I was going to give the game a Bronze trophy, it seems weird to not award a trophy to a game which at least managed to get published professionally, but I struggle to find any single redeeming quality about Vampyr.

About the Author

More fond of single-player experiences and story-driven games than anything else, TheDblTap has a keen eye for secrets and collectables, a skill which serves him well as a Trophy Hunter. However, with little patience and poor timing, he can struggle where MrZhangetsu would succeed.

More from TheDblTap