Preview: Vampyr

A game with considerable bite...

Preview: Vampyr

Developer DontNod
Publisher Focus Home Interactive
Due late 2017

DontNod, the French studio behind Remember Me and Life is Strange, is well regarded for the strong narrative elements their games feature. But their newest title, Vampyr, is something of a departure from the norm for them. While the game is still heavily narrative-driven – and filled with choices and moral quandaries with long-lasting consequences – the RPG-like structure of the game’s exploration and combat is territory DontNod has not yet tread. But the game’s been shaping up nicely over the past few years of development, and the demo we saw earlier this year has us pumped about how this supernatural alternate-history adventure will play out.

In early 20th century London, disease and depravity run amok: the Spanish Flu runs rampant, a bizarre affliction turns humans into bloodthirsty cannibals, and vampires lurk among the population, feeding and killing in secret. One such vampire is Dr. Jonathan Reid, who lives a terrifying double life: a merciful, life-saving doctor in public, but a thirsty bloodsucker in the shadows. It makes for an incredibly stressful existence: While Dr. Reid wants to protect his beloved clientele from the horrors of these illnesses, his vampiric nature demands he feed upon them. To make matters worse, an order of vampire hunters is gunning for him and his ilk. How far will Dr. Reid go to survive, and will he sacrifice his own well-being for the sake of others?

As you explore the darkened streets of London, you’ll find yourself among a cast of friendly and hostile characters – along with some undead horrors. By using your slick vampiric powers, you can carefully avoid threats (such as sensing an NPC’s emotional state), but in some cases, you’ll need to engage in battle. That’s when your high-powered vampire skills really come into play: you can dash around like a terror in the night, sneaking up behind foes and unleashing a surprise attack. Or, you can make use of some of your vampiric skills, such as freezing your opponent’s blood.

Other choices are more difficult. Dr. Reid’s character development – and combat abilities – are acquired and enhanced by the blood he consumes as a vampire. Feeding is a tricky business: consuming the foes you encounter yields little, and the more blood you drink, the more powerful you become – but the more of London’s populace you are forced to kill. A complex web of relationships that stretches across the city informs the actions of each individual character, and the death of one character at your hands can have a domino effect elsewhere. Take, for example, an old woman and her adult son. We saw a demo detailing their dysfunctional relationship – she abhors his drunken abuse but loves him regardless, and he loves her in turn. Yet the son harbours a vile secret: he’s also a serial killer. Killing him for blood may seem like a good idea, but how would it affect his mother? Or, conversely, how would killing his mother – who bears superior blood quality – affect him? Only you can decide who to kill – or even to kill at all.

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