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.

27 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    tigerfort says:

    That shoud be “Death is Strangr”, surely?

  2. Eight Rooks says:

    Definitely interested. Remember Me had its fair share of problems, but it was a lot of fun regardless, and pretty under-rated all in all. And I liked the premise and what we’ve seen so far of the art design, worldbuilding etc. in Life Is Strange – I’m willing to forgive a linear Telltale-style game if they can improve on the storytelling in Remember Me (which despite a deeply clunky script in places and some glaring missed opportunities still managed to tell a damned good story, IMO). So yeah, definitely interested to see how they’d approach a vampire story, and sticking it in a WWI setting is just gravy.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Yeah, the big question is what “action” means. Let’s hope it’s more Vampire: Bloodlines and less Diablo.

    • Colonel J says:

      I was about to say the same thing. To me ‘Action RPG’ means Diablo / Titan Quest clicky- clicky, but let the genre label hair-splitting begin….

      • commentingaccount says:

        Those games are as abstracted from action as you can get. I don’t even know why they’re called action RPGs… I mean, I love ’em, but they ain’t actiony.

        Also, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has a killer fog, Adam Smith. Probably the only vampire game where you can turn into a killer fog. It requires a somewhat hard to find upgrade, though.

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          Adam Smith says:

          !!! Somebody should just make a game called Killer Fog. Or a tv show.

          • April March says:

            You are hanging outside your target’s bedroom.
            > enter bedroom
            The window is closed.
            > open window.
            You don’t have hands.
            > sigh
            You don’t have lungs.

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        Adam Smith says:

        From what was said – and development is early enough that things could change – Bloodlines is far closer as far as the action goes. Definitely not a clicky lootfest – I suspect the word ‘action’ is used to describe the control method as much as anything else. As in, you’ll have direct control of combat and the like rather than sitting back as the numbers crunch.

        And now the genre label hair-splitting continues in my mind as I wonder whether Diablo is an action RPG in the sense that I just described. Curses.

        • Orageon says:

          Let’s just say that Diablo is of the Action-RPG genre, and of the Hack’n’Slash sub-genre.
          An Deus Ex is then as the crossroad of Action-RPG, and Immersive Sim ?

          • Oozo says:

            That might be correct, but isn’t Bloodlines also on “the crossroad of Action-RPG, and Immersive Sim”? Maybe standing a bit closer to the RPG path? …all these questions.

          • Steve Catens says:

            Nobody plays Bloodlines for the “action” though. They generally like it for the story, dialogue and roleplay despite the mediocre action gameplay. Describing Bloodlines as an ARPG does it little justice, and it’s far too developed on the roleplaying end to ever be mistaken for an immersive sim IMO.

            /hairsplitting.

        • Steve Catens says:

          Hmm. I’m skeptical. The term “Action RPG” is most often applied to action focused games with light RPG style progression mechanics and comparatively little story/roleplaying side. It’s not a term that anyone making a game that they want to be identified as a traditional RPG would choose to use, whether the combat was “direct” real time or not. Bethesda doesn’t call Skyrim an “action RPG” despite being real time and more or less twitch combat. It’s simply not a selling point for crpg fans. Most often it’s a warning that the game is focusing on combat at the expense of other traditional rpg attributes.

          In a vampire rpg I’m looking for atmosphere, story writing and choice, dialogue, and deep character choice and customization above all. To me, employing the word “action” in the description is a clear warning from the developers this is not a game for me. I hope that I’m mistaken.

          /semantics

        • Philotic Symmetrist says:

          No, Diablo is not an action RPG [in the sense that you just described]. And that’s fine, it doesn’t need to be an ARPG, just like Spelunky doesn’t need to be a roguelike. It’s its own thing which is and always has been different to action RPGs.

  4. Penguin_Factory says:

    Dontnod seems like a team with a lot of creative ambition who just need more experience at actually putting a game together, so I’m interested in both this and Life Is Strange.

  5. Darth Gangrel says:

    “Life Is Strange, Death Is Stranger” and undeath is the strangest.

    While I don’t think anything can compare to Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines, I’m hoping this will at least be worth playing, unlike the few other games that have come the past ten years. We need some fresh blood in the vampire protagonist genre.

  6. Caelyn Ellis says:

    “Doing it right” and “play as a specific character.” Does not compute.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      “Doing it right” was in relation to Battlefleet, words about which are being chiselled into feature-shape right now.

      As for specific player characters in RPGs, the approach isn’t generally my cup of tea, but Torment wasn’t half bad!

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        While VtM Bloodlines had seven different protagonist choices, VtM Redemption only had one and I was fine with that. It didn’t bother me one bit that Christof was a lovesick, goodie-two-shoes cliched character. It rather made me more fond of him, because I found that amusing. Deus Ex 1 also had a specific player character as well as The Witcher 1 and those two are some of my favorite games.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I absolutely disagree, although I do respect your opinion. Me, I really love making my own character to send into the world and choosing who to role play, so I can appreciate why some people also gel with that style of RPG setup.

      However, being given a character to role play is as valid an approach and something I personally also greatly enjoy. It also certainly has advantages, particularly in a cRPG, for the GM/Developer in crafting a story and reactive world for the player. As long as the game is still allows you freedom of choice within that character then I think it takes nothing away from the RPG aspect of the game.

  7. Zallgrin says:

    The protagonist somehow remind me of David Bowie.

    Anyway, I was surprisingly fond of Remember Me and am gonna give them a chance. Although hardly the game I’d buy on launch.

    P.S. Their publisher, Focus Home Interactive, also announced a sequel to Mars: War Logs called Technomancer! Now that is a game I can’t wait to get my hands on!

    • Kefren says:

      “All the young Brujahs, carry the news.”
      “Ground Control to Major Toreador.”
      “Let’s dance … put on your Ventrues and dance the blues.”

  8. Emeraude says:

    Will probably seem a bit unfair, but I’ll just echo my sentiment from when the late DARK was announced: I’m hoping this will be all right, but given the studio behind, I have a hard time seeing it.

    Don’tnod has some great artists (writers excepted, which doesn’t help here); what the company really needs to prove is that it has the chops to make an interesting game.

  9. strangeloup says:

    I’m hoping for wolf chomping. It’s a neglected option in games.

  10. plugav says:

    Reading that concept (World War I, curing Spanish flu with vampirism), I can’t help but wonder if Twilight was a major inspiration.

    (I’ve been obsessing about vampires for the past fifteen years – of course I know Edward’s backstory!)