Vamp y r

How your blood­lust af­fects Dontnod’s dark Lon­don

PC GAMER (UK) - - Preview - Robert Zak

Since its an­nounce­ment, Vampyr has been flut­ter­ing in the pe­riph­ery of our col­lec­tive vision like a bat at night. We know it’s an ac­tion RPG set in Lon­don dur­ing the Spanish flu epi­demic, and that it’s as dark, wet and mis­er­able as any pre-’60s de­pic­tion of the city, but not much more. I caught up with Dontnod nar­ra­tive di­rec­tor, Stéphane Beau­verger, to shine a paraf­fin fu­elled light on the game. You are John E Reid, a doc­tor try­ing to fig­ure out how he be­came a vam­pire while work­ing with Spanish flu vic­tims.

In con­trast to the busy streets we’ve come to ex­pect from semi-open games, there are only about 60 ci­ti­zens on the streets of Vampyr’s Lon­don.

“It’s Lon­don dur­ing a deadly epi­demic, so not many peo­ple are out at night,” Beau­verger tells me. “If you meet some­one, you know they have a good rea­son to be there. Most of th­ese peo­ple fit into one of the four archetypes – The Saint, The Mad, The Des­per­ate, and The Crim­i­nal – and you can in­ter­act with and kill any of them.”

Th­ese ci­ti­zens ex­ist out­side the main sto­ry­line, but can still have a pro­found im­pact on your game. “All the ci­ti­zens have fam­i­lies, jobs and lives,” says Beau­verger. “And they’re linked in un­ex­pected ways. If you kill some­one, their friends may de­cide to get re­venge, join vam­pire hunters, or per­haps close their shops down. Or maybe a cit­i­zen will be happy that you killed some­one they had a grudge with, and re­ward you with quests and items.”

blood sim­ple

Beau­verger stresses that you can go through the whole game with­out killing

“If you kill some­one, their friends may de­cide to get re­venge”

any­one, though feed­ing on blood is a well-in­te­grated way of reg­u­lat­ing the game’s dif­fi­culty. “The eas­i­est way to level up is to kill a cit­i­zen. You can play with­out killing any­body, and the game will be more dif­fi­cult, but there’s less risk that your ac­tions will come back to haunt you.”

The story of the tor­tured vam­pire who needs to bal­ance his sin­ful crav­ings with his in­nate good na­ture is noth­ing new, but the way your de­ci­sions im­pact the rel­a­tively small game world looks in­trigu­ing, and I sus­pect that it’s the en­coun­ters with archetypes and ci­ti­zens that will con­front us with the most in­trigu­ing moral and nar­ra­tive dilem­mas. I re­cently wrote for PCG about

King­dom Come: De­liv­er­ance, and how its de­vel­op­ers seem to be tak­ing a ‘One City Block’ ap­proach to de­sign; a tight, in­ter­wo­ven world that goes on whether you’re en­gag­ing it or not, and where each choice can count in un­ex­pected ways. It sounds like Vampyr could be play­ing with sim­i­lar ideas, but over two years on from its ini­tial an­nounce­ment, you’d hope th­ese ideas might start ma­te­ri­al­is­ing soon.

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