Vampyr Is An RPG From Life Is Strange Studio Dontnod

I first encounted vampyr one night in Putney, two weeks after the funeral of my dear friend Archibald Guts. He’d returned from a post overseas and seemed somewhat under the weather. We all believed him to be suffering from the malaria or a severe gin-deficiency, but it was a fever of the blood that did for him and it was that same fever that caused him to rise again.

The first time I encountered Vampyr was in January of this year. Dontnod had just announced that they would be developing a vampiric RPG, to be published by Focus, and they had a few details to share. Now there’s a trailer.

I think the assault in the alley stands out, particularly the mournful gaze into the camera, and not in a good way. It’s such a short trailer that it’d be better served by shots that communicate the medicinal themes of the story. I think I get why it’s there – it’s a grim place, that there London, and there’s an obvious parallel between a vampire isolating prey and more ordinary urban predators, but it’s such a quick flash of a different kind of horror that I found it distracting at best.

Maybe that look to camera is supposed to be defiant, maybe she’s a vampire and is about to turn the tables. It looks like quiet despair to me though.

I’m going to take the unusual step of quoting the bulk of a press release because my previous post on the subject, linked above, is essentially a rewording of some of the ideas that have now been made official.

“Vampyr is set in early 20th century Britain as the country is gripped by the lethal Spanish flu and the streets of London are crippled by disease, violence and fear. In a disorganized and ghostly city, those foolish, desperate, or unlucky enough to walk the streets lay prey to Britain’s most elusive predators: the vampires. Emerging from the chaos, a tormented figure awakens. You are Jonathan E. Reid, a high-ranking military surgeon transformed into a vampire upon his return home from the frontline.

“Explore the darkly atmospheric streets of early 20th century London, and interact with a multitude of characters with their own identities and importance. Accept and fulfill the missions they give you, but don’t forget: sooner or later, you will have to feed, and make a difficult choice… who will be your prey? Absolutely all characters in the game are potential victims of your vampiric lust. Carefully study the habits of your next victim, his or her relationships with other characters, and set up your strategy to feed, unnoticed: seduce them, change their daily habits, or make sure they end up alone in a dark street…

“Be careful who you choose to hunt, as they will be gone forever, and their death will impact in a meaningful way the world that surrounds you. Feeding on human blood will not just keep you “alive”; it will also unlock new vampiric powers to use.

“There will be times when exploration and seduction will only get you so far, and you’ll need to resort to engaging in Vampyr’s dynamic real-time combat. It blends hard-hitting melee combat with ranged shooting mechanics and the supernatural vampire powers. You’ll face many types of enemies: different species of vampires and creatures, as well as vampire hunters who want to hunt you down with their weapons, tools and traps. In Vampyr, your health and the “energy” that drives your supernatural powers are one and same! Using powers will drain your own blood, giving you an edge in battle but also leaving you weaker. You will have to find a way to feed during combat to replenish your strength.

“Vampyr also offers a deep crafting system. Find and loot materials and components from the fresh corpses of your victims or during exploration, in order to craft and improve tools, melee and ranged weapons, as well as special ammunitions and coating to exploit the weaknesses of your enemies.”

The ability to chomp on anyone’s neck (after what sounds like thorough gaslighting) is clearly the most interesting part of this whole scenario, although the setting is smart as well. Not only early 20th century London but the surgical background of the main character. Vampirism as disease is far more interesting to me than vampirism as romantic affectation or metaphor for sulky angst.

The kicker to all of this is that Vampyr isn’t due until 2017. Hopefully that means some of the talented folk working on Life is Strange will be joining the team because, hot damn, I do like Life is Strange.

24 Comments

  1. Barberetti says:

    That picture is great.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Yes, it is.

      There’s something about firebrand preachers in games that I very much like. Striding down a dusty high street, quoting the bible, as I sent sinners to their graves in Juarez, was bloody great.

      • Barberetti says:

        Hah. I actually bought Call of Juarez precisely for that reason. Unfortunately I never got that far because the game started me off as a completely different character, and as far as I know you have to complete the game as that character before getting to play as the preacher.

        I suppose I could have downloaded someone’s saved game at the start of the preacher play-through. Oh well, maybe one day!

    • Gap Gen says:

      YOU! WATCH AS I CONSUME THIS DICTIONARY

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        Ah, Gap Generator, never failing to provide the humour.

        Did you ever post on Wizard of Odd’s forum, or do I only remember you from PCGF?

  2. ribby says:

    Hella better looking than Life is Strange.

  3. plugav says:

    It all sounds very interesting and ambitious, but it brings to mind another vampire RPG that had a concept art motion comic trailer — and only ever got as far…

  4. Stevostin says:

    Very first thing to tell about a game, especially an RPG: what’s the view. It is first person ? Is it open world ?

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      FhnuZoag says:

      It’s two years away, I don’t think any firm details have been nailed down yet.

      • plugav says:

        But going by their history (Remember Me, Life Is Strange), one can assume it’ll be third person. Going by the description, seems like an open world-ish affair. Or possibly something along the lines of Deus Ex/Bloodlines.

  5. Nereus says:

    This has the potential to be amazingly good, or amazingly bad. Depending on whether the dialogue in Life is Strange is intentionally cringe-inducing.

    I also notice the trailer only says PS4/XB1 in the title, is it confirmed to come to PC?

    • rakara says:

      Last couple of seconds on the end of the video where it list all consoles, PC all the way on the right.

    • caff says:

      In Life is Strange, episode 3, the characters take the piss out of one another for their dialogue.

      And this is why it should be GOTY 2015.

  6. tiltaghe says:

    I love this trailer! Sick mood, great soundtrack and voiceover. It feeks a bit like Darkest Dungeon but less derivative, less caricatural in my opinion. How I would like it if they could drop all combat gameplay and focus on the narrative!

  7. brgillespie says:

    I bet we’ll not see a single Person Of Color in this game. The vampire is a typical white male. Guess Dontnod has learned nothing from Witcher 3 and Kingdom Come.

    • Jac says:

      The Simpson’s will be outraged. Especially as the whole population of Springfield were high ranking military surgeons in early 20th Britain.

      Anyway the concept sounds great despite the name of the game trying it’s hardest to be off-putting.

  8. Premium User Badge

    steves says:

    Hmm. I have a well-founded distrust of anything that spells vampire with a ‘Y’, but after being proved wrong on that score by the Joe Pitt books (seriously, best “Vampyre ” novels ever!) and given the obvious appeal of an early 20th century London setting, plus the excellent art style, this could be interesting.

    • EhexT says:

      You’re distrustful of the original spelling? The genre arguably started with “The Vampyre” by Pollidori.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    I wish DONTNOD would return to cyberpunk. Remember Me is brilliant, and I want more.

  10. DanMan says:

    Erm.. that video says “PS4 / XBone” in the title. Does this even come out on PC?

  11. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Will they finally master the arcane art of facial animation by the year 2017?