Vampyr: Gamescom 2016 Preview
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that Vampyr was a huge departure for Dontnod Entertainment from their previous titles, Life Is Strange and Remember Me. Coming away from my Gamescom presentation and interview though, I get the feeling that Vampyr is not so different after all.
While Life Is Strange was a time-bending narrative game, comparable to some of Telltale's finest work, Vampyr is an action-RPG, which are typically games interested in driving you towards your next piece of loot than delivering an emotional gut-punch.
Nonetheless, Gregory Szucs, art director on Vampyr, says the studio's games share Dontnod's core ideals, citing that they both feature a 'strong story and strong narrative backbone first and foremost - asking the player tough questions. Remember Me was about really remixing that person's memories, pushing him maybe as far as insanity. In Life Is Strange we have many possibilities. You can do the back and forth in time and play with many situations. In Vampyr, we're going to ask some other tougher questions because you are a vampire, you have to feed - kill people.
There's a lot to like about the initial information we've been given about Vampyr's world. The game is set in London in 1918, during the capital's Spanish Flu pandemic. Most of the city's inhabitants that haven't been sent off to die in World War 1 are now desperately trying to hang on through the disease and keep their world together. In all of this, you're Jonathan Reid: the freshly turned vampire by night and a doctor by day. This means the game is a constant struggle between Reid's Hippocratic Oath and his newly awakened urge to feed. You're not just any doctor either, but a pioneer in your field, and there's every chance that you can save the city from the epidemic slowly choking London, if you wanted to.
There's not much to stop you taking advantage of the chaos to grow powerful though. Vampires aren't public knowledge at the start of the story, and only a shadowy cabal of vampire hunters know of their existence. These guys will be your primary enemies early in the game as they roam the streets searching for the undead. Combat feels Bloodborne-esque, although it's less brutal because this time you're the monster with magical abilities.
Using these abilities costs you energy and blood though, and to keep fighting fit, you're going to have to feed. Feeding from those you're fighting is fine, but it's the equivalent of grabbing a McDonald's double cheeseburger after working late - it scratches an itch, but it's not the same as getting home and making something substantial.