A couple weeks ago we got a stylish and cinematic trailer for an upcoming game titled Vampyr (not sure if it is pronounced normally or “vamp-eer”). Life is Strange developer Dontnod Entertainment looks to once again make vampires cool with this new action RPG taking place in 1918 London during the Spanish Flu epidemic. After a good half hour demo presented to us at E3 this week, Vampyr looks to add some originality to the genre.
Vampyr has players taking the control of physician Jonathan Reid who, ironically, happens to be a vampire as well. In regards to the narrative, the developers did not shine as much light onto to that for spoiler purposes. They did, however, explain to us the decisions that Reid (as well as the player) must choose to constantly make throughout the narrative. Reid is a vampire, meaning he needs blood in order to survive. Players must decide on whether or not to kill citizens in the game in order to become more powerful. Instead of just consuming nameless people, Vampyr forces players to question their decisions as all the NPCs have their own personalities and backstories.
This concept is where the originality is truly shown. During the demo, we saw Reid speaking to an NPC who looked to have a troubling past. As the game went on, we learned a few things about this man and his dark secrets. Gaining information on him was done through multiple dialogue options, in which Reid can ask the right questions. Once we concluded that this man was considered evil, all of us watching the demo knew it should probably be this guy who Reid feeds on. We were then thrown off guard as we realized NPCs have blood qualities. Blood essentially works as XP. The higher the quality, the more XP earned. While this man seemed to be the easy choice, we then learned that his innocent mother actually had a better blood quality. Reid then decided to feed on the mother’s blood, thus gaining a better portion of XP. There was a mention that killing enemies does grant XP, but feeding on civilians is the more efficient way to level up.
Now aside from the moral dilemma Vampyr implements, I wasn’t sure if I’d still care who I consumed in the name of more XP. The developers then addressed this concern as they explained how each death at the hand of Reid will have an effect on the world around him. One example they used would be how killing a certain merchant could end up causing a rift in the economic system in the district for better or for worse. I was truly fascinated by this unique concept added to the genre. While this game could’ve just been a fun and bloody action game, it ends up becoming something else entirely. Now however deep this mechanic is remains to be seen, but I’m still optimistic and respect the developers for trying something different.
Moment to moment choices are cool and all, but the combat needs to be done well in order for players to feel motivated by their choices. Within the first combat encounter, I was immediately reminded of Bloodborne and Dark Souls. From the patient stance Reid takes to the timing of his attacks, Vampyr is very much inspired by the SoulsBorne games. Reid is equipped with a plethora of upgradeable weapons and abilities that all look fun to learn and implement. In the demo we saw Reid use a machete as well as revolvers, which both looked as fun as the other.
Once again this is a game that will be dependent entirely on it’s original concept. We’ve seen action RPGs with this sort of combat style and tone. How deep and diverse the NPC system will likely determine the game’s success or failure. This is definitely a big step up from the interactive story formula of Life is Strange. Although, Life Is Strange was a game that really made players feel the weight of their choices, so maybe killing that old lady for her better blood quality may give us some sort of remorse. Luckily we won’t have to wait too long for the hype to build up as Vampyr is set to release this year on November 17th for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.
More information can be found on the official website.