Developer Dontnod Entertainment brought with them to E3 2017, the latest build for their upcoming action role-playing vampire title Vampyr. During the hands-off gameplay presentation, I was shown the deep narrative focus and how your choices have consequences in the world. Set in London during the Spanish flu pandemic in the year 1918, players control the game’s protagonist, Jonathan E. Reid, who happens to be a respected doctor in the community, but also a recently turned vampire.
Jonathan must take care, as disease isn’t the only terror in the streets, as the Guard, a secret vampire hunting organization hounds him and his kind mercilessly. In the presentation, we met someone from this order; however, the hospital is sacred ground, and the Guard is unable to attack any vampires (or leeches as they are called). Dialogue choices pay a significant role in how you interact with NPCs, and how they react to your presence. At the same time, the director of the hospital knows what you are, and honestly, as long as you continue to perform your duties as a doctor in the community, he doesn’t mind what you do when the sun goes down. With that said, it is up to you to decide how the world evolves. London is split into different sections, each with their own unique problems and set of characters and townsfolk. As you learn more about each person that lives there, you must balance your need to feed.
Avoiding the Guard while roaming the streets is generally a good idea. When you do get into combat, you are equipped with standard weapons, as well as your vampire abilities. Your blood vision lets you track down potential targets, and using your speed you can overwhelm groups of enemies. Enemies are equipped with all sorts of vampire hunting gear, from wooden stakes to gas grenades that can render your powers useless. Damage is intended on Jonathan as he takes beatings, but his health will regenerate outside of combat. While this is one way to earn potential experience to gain additional powers, there is a much faster and lucrative approach.
The second half of the gameplay presentation focused on the social aspects. We came across a fellow, drunk, talking about a lost piece of jewelry. Being a kind person, we located it in an alley, surrounded by dead bodies. When confronted, he confessed to the crimes without remorse. Instead of feeding on the heartless murderer right away, we decided to visit his home, speaking to his mother about her son’s troubled lifestyle. It became evident through the conversation choices made that the mother has been covering up the deaths for quite some time. A third pillar to the story adds someone else that the mother takes care of, a young boy, who the son passionately despises.
The presenter decided to feed upon the mother in the home, altering the story, which will change with every action. As the townsfolk die, the town changes, for the worse, but you gain enough experience to make it worthwhile. As it turns out, the young boy is now living on the street, and the son returns to his home, to find his mother dead.
Vampyr features a highly unique narrative based upon the decisions that you make in the game. The dynamic of trying to save people as a doctor and then turning around and draining their blood is quite intriguing. With branching skill trees and the adverse effect that death has in the game, each playthrough should feel unique. Vampyr is set to release later this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.