Stalk the streets of London and put your undead morals to the test
Vampires aren’t typically known for their conscience. Being a bloodsucking creature of the night tends to come with a general disregard for life itself, but for Life Is Strange developer Dontnod, having all that power comes with – you guessed it – plenty of responsibility. In the accursed shoes of one Jonathan Reid, you can choose to heal the sickened citizens of London as it’s swept by a Spanish flu epidemic, or prey on the weak and fill your belly with claret.
Dontnod has crafted a gothic, pre-Victorian capital filled with NPCs that boast their own stories, stats and relationships to one another. Each one comes with their own secrets to uncover as you explore the multiple hub-like areas of the map (think the interconnected, open-ended areas of
Dishonored), with previously locked-off dialogue options opening up as you find new items and more. Getting chatty with the locals is also the best way to work out which characters will net you the most XP.
Here’s where Vampyr starts applying pressure. You can choose to put your medical training to good use in keeping an NPC alive and well, but draining citizens dry is the only way to gain enough XP to upgrade your vampiric abilities. Dispatching regular enemies won’t net you enough, so if you want to stand a fighting chance in latter parts of the game (where those abilities will become vital to your survival), you might have to set those values aside and start chomping on jugulars.
Following in footsteps of its work on LIS, Dontnod has created another world built on moral ambiguity. It’s possible to reach the end of the game without killing a soul (there are multiple endings to uncover), but if you do start slaying like a ripper, consequence abounds. That interconnected web of characters means some quest paths can be lost forever if you kill a certain NPC or their friend/family, so caution is advised before you start wantonly chomping.
Fangs a lot
Consequence will affect the gameworld, too. Paint the town red and kill enough NPCs and merchants will flee the area, leaving it to the mercy of ‘Skals’, a bestial form of vampire that will harry your efforts to revisit the area later on. It’s possible to effectively collapse every area in the game and still reach the end, but that undead conscience of yours might have taken a battering by that point.
Upgrades or not, Reid has still got plenty of vampiric talents to rely on. You have a powerful dash, which enables you to flit short distances in a rush of black smoke. Not only does this add verticality to exploration (enabling you to reach higher platforms or seemingly unreachable areas), it also adds an extra dimension of space management to combat. Along with both pistols and blades, you can also bite enemies mid-battle. Taking an impromptu chomp can either be used to regenerate health or inflict heavy damage on the foe.
Vampyr is easily the biggest project Dontnod has ever attempted, and while there’s certainly plenty of room for it to stake itself through the heart, its experience with deep combat mechanics via Remember
Me and LIS’ choice-driven narrative leaves us confident the Parisian studio can finally give modern gaming the vampire simulator we’ve always thirsted for.
“Along with both pistols and blades, you can also bite enemies mid-battle”