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Life Is Strange, Death Is Stranger: Vampyr

Vampyr is a newly announced action RPG from DONTNOD, creators of Remember Me and the upcoming episodic adventure Life Is Strange. Development is at the earliest of stages but the game will be published by Focus when it eventually releases, and I had the chance to extract some details yesterday while at an event for the company’s upcoming games (Battlefleet Gothic feature coming shortly – they’re doing it right).

In Vampyr, you play a specific character, a doctor who returns from World War 1 to a city devastated by the Spanish Flu. While treating a patient, he is bitten and infected with a strain of virus that falls outside the understanding of medicine.

Dontnod are using the term “action RPG” but aren’t spilling the beans on how that action will play out. Sneaking and stabbing? Storming and shooting? Turning into a wolf and chomping? Maybe even turning into a fog and mildly-inconveniencing? The viewpoint will be similar to Remember Me and while player’s will have difficult choices to make throughout the story – the branching ‘Y’ of the title isn’t just there for that old timey Polidori taste – the game won’t be as linear as Life Is Strange, which looks like it’ll fall close to the decide-uous Telltale tree.

The game’s tagline provides a hint as to the kind of choices that await the doom-laden doc – “Take Blood / Save A life”. In taking blood and spreading vampirism to victims of the flu or other diseases, it might be possible to save them from death but until the vampiric infection is understood, it won’t be clear whether their life has truly been saved. The collision of early 20th century medical understanding, folklore and the supernatural could lead to an interesting take on bloodsucking and garlic-dodging.

It’s too early to make any predictions as to quality but Dontnod are shaping up to be an interesting studio, seemingly determined to follow up on the more interesting aspects of Remember Me. During our conversation, the idea of a game focusing on one theme and addressing it through mechanics and other aspects of design came up several times. There’s an acknowledgement that Remember Me contained too many distractions and even though Life is Strange hasn’t yet been released, there’s a suggestion that the confines of its linearity create their own problems. Vampyr, it is hoped, will maintain the thematic focus while still allowing for exploration of large, diverse environments.

The team currently working on Life is Strange aren’t currently involved in Vampyr. Whether they’ll move on to another new project, continue along the path of Life is Strange or join the Vampyr clan once they’re done isn’t yet clear.

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Adam Smith

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