Yesterday we got our first look at Vampyr in-action and the game is looking impressive.
There’s obvious influences from both of DontNod’s previous games, Life is Strange and Remember Me. The game is highly focused on the aspect of choice and the impacts your choices make on the world of a 1918 recreation of London. Our demo began at the burial of someone that might have been related to the game’s main character, Jonathan Reid. Story details are light at the moment, but DontNod promises a deeply-immersive and engaging narrative in the final product.
Following the burial of a possible victim of Reid’s, the character engages in conversation with another NPC, which showed off the game’s dialogue system. Similar to that of Life is Strange, players can choose different dialogue options that will result in different reactions from the NPCs and cause different events to unfold in the story. Unlike Life is Strange, however, there is no ability in the game to rewind time and rethink the choices you’ve made. When you made a choice in Vampyr, that choice is final and can have dramatic effects on the world.
The world of Vampyr is a semi-open world with interconnected districts that have no load times in-between each area. Each district is different from the other and each has its own ecosystem. The game has many exterior and interior environments and while we didn’t get to see too much of the city, I can say that the game is looking quite good with its dark and moody atmosphere built on the Unreal Engine 4.
Johnathan Reid is both a vampire and a doctor. As he looks for a cure for the disease he’s acquired, he’s driven to both save lives and take those that he needs to survive. There are combat sections in Vampyr as London has its own group of vampire hunters which are the only people aware of the existence of vampires. We didn’t see much in terms of combat, but Reid is quite agile and has an array of different skills to choose from.
These abilities will allow Reid to travel the environment stealthily if he chooses, or the player can use them to their advanatage in combat. One of the abilities shown off allowed Reid to teleport or from one location to the next without being seen, and the other was used in combat as Reid summoned a spike from the ground to impale his enemy.
In our presentation, Reid later meets a regular civilian on the street who has a sick child. Reid has the option to either take the man’s life, or go to the man’s home to either save or kill the child that’s sick. DontNod is sticking pretty close to common vampire lore, and that means more than just not being able to travel in daylight. For the player to have access to the child in the man’s home, he has to be invited in. In our demo, Reid is a bit too hasty with asking for permission to enter the man’s home to help the sick child, and so the man turns hostile. Reid doesn’t appreciate this in the demo and proceeds to end the man’s life.
During the man’s death, we hear his thoughts in how he was just doing the best he could to be a good father. The man’s child will now run away from home and leave the city, according to the developers, which is a prime example of the kind of consequences your actions can have in London. Since each person in Vampyr is unique and has their own story, talking to people around the city will frequently provide you with new quests to partake on and choices to make. None of the choices in the game are black or white, according to the developers. Every choice is morally ambiguous and, as I mentioned before, you have to live with the choices you make. If you kill or don’t heal enough people in a district, this can upset the balance of the ecosystem, and the district will descend into chaos.
Our demo ended with a glimpse of what a district looks after descending into chaos, and it’s a significant change and while we didn’t see any actual gameplay of when the city descends into chaos, we can probably assume things will be much more violent and more difficult for Reid to content with.
Having just finished Life is Strange, I’m eagerly anticipating DontNod’s next project. I haven’t seen enough of Vampyr yet to really have a good idea of how the full game will be, but if DontNod can successfully create an engaging narrative with choices that really matter then they’re on the right track here.
Vampyr is due out on the PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2017.