Vampyr: Balancing Morals in 1917 London

Warning: This review contains minor spoilers of some side quests.

               Vampyr is a game by DONTNOD, the creators of Life is Strange and Remember Me, where you play as, of course, a vampire in 1917 London during the Spanish Flu epidemic. You play a surgeon named Jonathon Reid who wakes up in a mass grave to discover he is a vampire. Throughout the game, he struggles with his newfound craving for blood contrasting with his oath as a doctor to “do no harm.” While struggling between these contradicting concepts, he seeks to find an end to the epidemic plaguing London.

I was curious how DONTNOD was going to handle this one given their super progressive “Life is Strange” when compared with the fact that the game takes plays in 1917, which wasn’t exactly a “progressive” time for social justice. Will they adhere to the real values and vices of the times? Or will they try to make it “woke?”

Sexuality: This is one of my major gripes for the game. Dr. Reid runs into two homosexual men who found love on the battlefield of World War 1. Dr. Reid encourages them and hopes that in the future, people will be more accepting of their lifestyle. Big wokeness fail here. At that time in history, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the scientific community. At best Dr. Reid would suggest they get therapy to get over their “unnatural urges,” at worst, he’d immediately condemn them and have them arrested for “spreading disease” in a time when that could mean death. In another point of that game Dr. Reid encourages a prostitute to give up her profession due to the diseases that could be spread, but nothing to the gay couple? No, sorry wouldn’t happen. Score: 3 of 5

Pictured above: Not something you would admit to a stranger in 1917 London.

Gender: Men and women are portrayed accurately for this era. The doctors are all men and the nurses are all women. There are some women fighting for women’s right to vote but women’s suffrage was a movement that existed in the 1910s. The treatment of women wasn’t so great and one doctor laments that his nurse could never be a doctor due to her gender despite the fact she would make a very good one. Might be a little on the nose there but since it’s based on a real problem in that period, I can’t score it very high. Score: 1 of 5

Race: Although London was a very “white” place in that era, there were quite a few migrants moving in and out of the area due to the war and that shows in this game. There were a couple of black characters, an Asian woman, even an Indian man. There was even a relationship between a black man and a white woman that they were trying to hide, which speaks to the racial intolerance of the time. Score: 1 of 5

1917 was not a very tolerant time for London.

Anachronism: I admit I haven’t done a deep study of this era but from what I remember from school and from what I looked up online it seems rather accurate, except for the bit about the gay couple. Score: 2 of 5

Overall: 7 out of 20. Woke in some areas but doesn’t really ruin the game, just good for an eye-roll. The game is still fun and I loved the various investigations you could partake in, trying to find the root of this plague that seems also to have a relationship with your character’s vampirism. It brings back memories of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines though it has a bit more of a serious tone. Worth a buy in my opinion if that’s your thing.

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