PC, PS4, Xbox One
Swapping sunny Oregon for shadowy London, horror RPG Vampyr marks a dark departure for Life Is Strange developer Dontnod. It’s the Paris studio’s attempt to strip the vampire myth of its accumulated Hammer Horror clichés and present a more classic portrayal of cultural touchstone spectres who crawled from the darkest recess of Eastern Europe.
1918 London makes a suitably vile location. Not only has the Great War ravaged the population, but the Spanish Flu now picks the bones. This pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide, and its parallels to vampirism, a spread-by-bite affliction sparking paranoid fear of contagion, are intentional. In a city bruised and bloodied by a physical foe and now forced to fight an invisible one, you’re the nail in the coffin, a living crossroads between man and nature.
“It was the ideal place for us because people felt alienated by industrialisation,” art director Grégory Szucs says. “It was a weak time for humanity. The war resulted in massive casualties, and with the flu it’s the perfect time for vampires. There were great advances in medicine, and we need those new tools for the character to try and make sense of the situation.” The character in question is Jonathan Reid, a doctor-turned-vampire struggling to accept his scourge.
He’s moulded after literature’s great rationalists. Dr Frankenstein, Professor Van Helsing, Dr Jekyll – men at the forefront of advances in psychotherapy, neurology, and blood transfusions. What they call cataloguing, the era’s unenlightened call ‘killing God’, and in choosing whether to help society to its feet by finding a cure or succumb to bestial urges and feed on its
You’ll want to make a mental note of alleyways like these, the perfect place to commit a secret murder. However, the penalty for being seen isn’t clear at this point.
The structure is similar to Troika Games’ 2004 RPG, Vampire:The Masquerade – Bloodlines, in that this is a multi-choice open world relying as much on a sharp tongue as physical prowess