Stalk the streets of Lon­don and put your un­dead morals to the test

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Dom Re­seigh-Lin­coln

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”

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