Vampyr is based on the 1918 London Spanish flu pandemic, with the influenza flu outbreak augmented by the struggles of a doctor turned vampire; the push and pull between upholding the Hippocratic Oath and fulfilling a growing hunger for human blood the central narrative mechanic and gameplay hook. “The sum of your decisions and experiences as a Vampyr will trigger very different endings,” said Dontnod’s Phillipe Moreau, adding, “We have four endings, including one if you manage to finish the game without killing anyone. Trust me, that’s a hard challenge.”
We can see why. The story and levelling up mechanics are essentially tied together, where you are only rewarded XP if you decide to drain victims of their blood. That act will, of course, have its own set of consequences throughout Vampyr’s semi-open world, with the moral quandaries behind such an act pulling the story and difficulties in different directions; investigating potential victims, their lives, and trying to suss out any potential consequences is as open or closed as you’d like it to be. It’s an interesting attempt to tie RPG levelling together with nonlinear narrative conventions, but we’re desperate to play it for ourselves now, especially after such a lengthy development cycle – not to mention a release date on the near horizon.
Still, Dontnod did show us new alpha footage of Vampyr in an effort to showcase how far the game has come since E3 2016, citing a desire to avoid wasting time and resources on a new demo build. And, well, it looks impressive; a far cry from the some what limited production values of episodic Life Is Strange and its somewhat forgettable predecessor, Remember Me. Vampyr has a finality to its investigation and decision systems that other games rarely attempt to include, let alone succeed at. It promises an experience that will force us to question and confront the acts that we are committing, a game of careful selfexamination more than action blockbuster. While this all sounds good on paper, and the latest footage looks promising, it’s simply impossible to tell until we have the opportunity to finally get hands-on for ourselves. The time for Vampyr to emerge from the shadows is here. Whether Dontnod can guide it successfully into the light remains to be seen.
Format: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Release: Q4 2017