At Focus Home Interactive’s E3 booth, we had the opportunity to see a pre-alpha demo of Vampyr, a new action RPG where you play as Jonathan Reid, a doctor now turned vampire. In the game you must make difficult decisions of survival, both for yourself and for the citizens of early twentieth century London, which is being ravaged from the effects of a mysterious flu. Vampire’s must feed on blood to survive, but from who is where the game’s core moral ambiguity lies.
Developed by: Dontnod Entertainment
Edited by: Focus Home Interactive
Release date: 2017
Age rating: PEGI 18
Platforms: PS4®, XBOXONE®, PC
- Explore a darkly atmospheric early 20th century London.
- Play a tormented and powerful Vampire learning the rules of your new condition. A man of science, a beast of the night: Your toughest battles will be within yourself.
- Build your own combat style through a wide range of crafted weapons and powerful Vampire abilities to defeat a large and unique bestiary.
- Choose your fate: moral choices will shape your story. How human could a Vampire be, when he must feed?
The Vampyr Demo
The demo begins with a dramatic cutscene as we witness the burial of an individual, with the game’s protagonist in attendance. Right away we are given a sense of the game’s setting: overcast and dreary, the environment is imposing and heavy with choice. The dialogue matches this precisely as every question and answer is conflicted.
The game plays in third person, and provides flexibility of choice to the player, as resolution may be approached in many different ways. The player need not kill a single soul although not doing so has its own consequences. Blood is power, and in order to actually level up the player must find fresh targets. Several dialogue options are used to ascertain the whereabouts, habits and clues of potential victims, giving you the option to qualify your choices by focusing on those who may be deserving of death. Once victims have been taken, players can level up and improve their abilities as a vampire.
While one hand can take, the other can give and Jonathan can use his abilities as a doctor to heal the afflicted citizens, improving the quality of life for the London neighborhoods. The choices to help or harm have severe ramifications for the city, and it will change to reflect these. Take too much from your fellow man and the city will descend into depravity. Further complicating issues are a society of hunters determined to eradicate vampires, and you are there prey.
Combat in the game is fast and fluid and looks similar to Bloodborne. Players will use melee attacks as well as firearms to defeat foes and dodge with the familiar dash evasion which rewards speed and reacting to enemy movements. Further augmenting the combat are vampiric abilities, including the summoning of spectral forms. In the demo we witnessed a massive shadow-hand rise from the ground to lift and crush a foe. To counter the power of such abilities, using them during combat drains your health and strength requiring you to feed to restore. Jonathan is also able to teleport to different locations, adding an extra strategic element of traversal.
Although it’s an action RPG, the game has an investigative feel to it that allows the player to slow down as they examine the world for clues and insights into the citizens of London. There are secrets and items to uncover which add a layer of intrigue to the story.
We left the demonstration impressed with how easily the game switched gears from dialogue and exploration to combat and how effective the setting and gameplay was at making us feel like a vampire. The moral struggle inside Jonathan adds a weight to the game and has the potential to leave an indelible bloodstain on the minds of gamers when it releases next year on PS4, Xbox One and PC.