Vampyr

There's a lot at stake in the new ad­ven­ture from the de­vel­op­ers of Life Is Strange, bites Heidi Kemps.

Hyper - - PREVIEW -

Im­mor­tal­ity ac­tu­ally kinda sucks. I mean, yes, it sucks in that you get to watch ev­ery­one you know and love wither away and die time and time again, but when it’s the re­sult of vam­prirism, it also sucks in the most lit­eral sense: you must kill to sur­vive. It’s even worse when you’re a doc­tor, a per­son sworn to pro­tect lives: the need to con­sume the lifeforce of oth­ers goes against ev­ery­thing you live for. How can you bal­ance your need to live against the pre­cious lives of oth­ers, and how will you de­cide who lives and who dies? This is the moral quandary that lies at the heart of Vampyr, a dark ac­tion/RPG from the stu­dio be­hind Re­mem­ber Me and Life is Strange.

Dr. Jonathan Reid is keep­ing quite busy in early 20th cen­tury Lon­don. The Span­ish Flu is reach­ing epi­demic sta­tus, sick­en­ing many peo­ple – but there’s a more vile dis­ease ap­pear­ing, as well, one that causes a men­tal de­te­ri­o­ra­tion that drives those it in­fects to can­ni­bal­ism. Dr. Reid, how­ever, is suf­fer­ing from a very dif­fer­ent af­flic­tion – he has, for rea­sons yet un­known, be­come a vam­pire. This not only puts him in the sights of the city’s vam­pire hun­ters, but has left him need­ing to feed on the blood of the pop­u­la­tion to stay alive. This moral quandary lies at the heart of the story: Dr. Reid must stave off ill­ness and dis­cover the cause be­hind the uptick in can­ni­bal­ism, yet he must kill these same peo­ple to sur­vive.

And kill you shall. In the demo of the game we were shown at E3, the de­vel­op­ers made it very clear that that game would be ex­cep­tion­ally dif­fi­cult com­plete with­out feed­ing. This is be­cause of the char­ac­ter devel­op­ment sys­tem the game em­ploys: the ab­so­lute best way to level up is through drink­ing fresh blood, which you can then use to en­hance var­i­ous char­ac­ter abil­i­ties. Sure, you can try and sur­vive off what you get from en­e­mies you slay in the game’s Dis­hon­ored­style com­bat, but it’s not go­ing to give you nearly the strength of a fresh kill. With­out blood to power your vam­piric abil­i­ties, you’ll be left sig­nif­i­cantly weaker in the long run, and will need to ad­just your playstyle both in and out of com­bat ac­cord­ingly.

But it’s not as easy as sneak­ing up on some­one and suck­ing them dry. Ev­ery NPC you en­counter in Vampyr plays a role, and whether they live or die af­fects a com­plex webs of char­ac­ter re­la­tion­ships that can al­ter story out­comes. In our demo, we met a son and his old mother. While the son de­scribed his mother as the most im­por­tant per­son in his life, he har­boured a dark se­cret: he was a se­rial killer, and his kindly mom knew noth­ing of his habit. Killing him seemed like the easy choice – but his blood qual­ity was sig­nif­i­cantly weaker than that of his mother, and it’s hard to judge how his mother would re­act to his death. Which of the pair would you choose to kill? Hard choices like this are fre­quent.

Vampyr’s been in the works for a while, but you won’t have to wait much longer to sink your teeth into it. Look for it to hit most ma­jor plat­forms late this year.

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