Last year, Paris’ own DONTNOD Entertainment made its mark on the industry and sent ripples throughout it, when it released its episodic narrative, Life is Strange. A five-part tale, it proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered for a lot of people, and quickly cemented itself as one of the most popular and well-liked games of 2015.
This year, DONTNOD returned to E3 with a new project to show off; that being its historically-set action-RPG, Vampyr. Existing as the developer’s first Focus Home Interactive-published effort, the game is scheduled for a 2017 release and looks to be worth the wait.
So, what exactly is Vampyr? Well, from the looks of things, it’s a rich and involved action RPG that will bring players’ morals into play. Why is that? Well, its main character — Doctor Jonathan Reid — just so happens to be a vampire with a conscience, and he feels that it’s up to him to keep London well, all while dealing with his own affliction.
Turned without consent, while travelling back to his home in London, England, this particular doctor finds that he must balance his need to feed with the needs of the city around him. It’s an especially troubling conflict of interest, too, given that this story is set in 1918 and the city’s inhabitants are fighting the Spanish Flu. Many are dying, and the sick are in need of care that Doctor Reid can provide them with if the player feels up to the task.
The only way that Jonathan can improve himself is by feeding, but every time he bites into a human being it affects London’s overall health metre. The same is true of abandoning those who are diseased and seeking help, because every loss affects the city as a whole, and it’s our job to keep things balanced. If a certain borough is left unattended, it may become overrun by the sick and end up littered with corpses, along with destroyed and fire-engulfed buildings.
That’s what we should all hope to avoid when playing Vampyr, but it surely won’t be easy to keep everything in check at all times.
Of course, what would a vampire game be without enemies? Vampyr seems to have a decent amount of those, in the form of vampire hunters who’ve returned to the city after hearing about its worsening infestation. Combat between Dr. Reid and said hunters was briefly shown, and it involved some stealth (including bat-based teleportation mechanics) and some more in-your-face attacking, through a decent-looking system that promotes timing and verticality.
One of the best ways to accomplish your goals is to mesmerize a human and have him follow you into the shadows before you feast. Before you do that, though, you’ll want to try your best to gain intelligence about each and every person you encounter, in order to figure out who’s best for eating. Generally speaking, doing research helps you find out who the scumbags are, and can make your choices easier for that reason. You have to eat, after all, and it’s not always easy, especially since vampires must be invited into someone’s home before they can enter.
Talking to people — and gaining intel from them — will require you to be a smooth talker, using the game’s dialogue wheel. The writing is smart, and all choices have consequences, so it’ll be interesting to see how everything comes together.
Speaking of the final product, it’s worth pointing out that when I spoke to the developers they told me that Vampyr will be fifteen to thirty hours long, and that its length will be determined by individual play styles. There are secrets to find, side quests to engage in and collectibles to pick-up. On top of that, there looks to be a rich campaign that will impress those who like both Gothic London and vampirism.
On a somewhat related note, for those who are hoping for Life is Strange 2 (like I am): I asked, but DONTNOD’s reps told me that they’d be killed if they said anything. That’s definitely a good sign, though, and my fingers remain crossed for more time-bending gameplay.