Watch 14 Minutes Of Vampyr Pre-Alpha Gameplay


Oh hey, I didn’t see this gameplay demo walkthrough-y footage of Vampyr [official site] come up earlier this week. It’s sort of from E3 but this version that doesn’t have people talking over the top so let’s have a look now. (In case you need a little refresher it’s that vampire-themed RPG from the Life Is Strange devs where you’re a vampire doctor and have to make decisions about who to kill to sate your thirst.)

If you are somewhere without the option of watching videos I will attempt to summarise:

The footage begins with a rainy nighttime funeral. At this point I stopped watching so I could read up about nighttime funerals. Apparently there’s talk of a floodlight system in the UK to enable nighttime funerals to take place, particularly in the darker months. There was also this interesting blog entry about night funerals during the Regency.

A man called Jonathan then stands over the open grave attempting to have emotions and failing. He’s probably a vampire. Yeah. He’s a vampire. He’s afraid of having feelings because one of the feelings he might have is “crazed bloodlust and murder”.

Jonathan now heads for St Mary’s church but stops to watch some terrible chump reading poetry to/at a lady. I feel like if you’re looking for a snack you could do worse than that guy.

There seems to be a kind of blink power that lets you easily traverse gaps. All the better to eavesdrop on expositional conversations about how people who have bitemarks and have been drained of blood probably didn’t die from Spanish flu.

Combat section next! It seems to be pretty blinky/slashy/stabby/shooty/blood-drainy, so pretty standard stuff for a vampire combat section.

Then Jonathan checks a notice about how to prevent the spread of Spanish flu. I don’t think vampires can get Spanish flu but maybe he’s just interested in concepts of public hygiene.

Ungh. It’s so… drab and dank and dark and he looks so much like a typical videogamesman. I mean, sure, it’s the atmosphere and the videogamesman and the combat that they’re aiming for so fine but I just feel like I’ve seen this before in so many ways. “You’re mine, vermin!” is one of the NPC combat barks which is about as generic as it gets.

Jonathan does seem to have the ability to summon dark forces that raise someone into the air and then snap their spine by ramming them down onto a spike made from demonic energy or something. I like that in the gameplay footage some unseen dude does a really awkward cough just after it. It makes snapping someone’s spine via demonic energy seem like a bit of a social faux pas.

You can use your vampire powers to tell whether someone has flu or TB or if they’re perfectly healthy by sort of scanning them and watching their lungs light up. You can also squeeze someone’s head and whisper for them to follow you – so a sort of vague hypnotism – if they refuse your request that they let you, a rando weirdo claiming to be a doctor, into their house to visit their ill child. You can then lead them a short way away and suck their blood while hearing their last words.

Apparently this will then let you look kind of anguished while dribbling blood and also robbing their corpse. It’s an emotional rollercoaster.

Then there’s a very pointed conversation with a priest who is all “monsters don’t exist” when you confess to killing the girl from the funeral at the start of the video. I feel like if I was the priest I’d be a bit more interested in establishing what you mean when you say you killed the girl he’s just laid to rest rather than being all “well, come on in…”

We then cut to a few nights later. Whitechapel is full of dead bodies and fires and decrepit silhouettes. I feel like I could perhaps even afford a house in this version of London. Wait. I think it’s supposed to not be an optimistic situation.

Anyway. That’s Vampyr. After Life Is Strange it seems so averagely videogamey. I mean it might be really fun to play or a decent entertainment of an evening, but I’m not really seeing anything here that elevates it above the mulch of similar-looking games with similar-looking combat/rainy run-down cities of the past/ideas about vampires. I also didn’t really see much in the way of meaningful choice.

There’s definitely a place for that kind of game, though, so this isn’t intended as harsh criticism, more just to point out that it doesn’t seem to have any of Life Is Strange’s feeling of being something notably different.

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  1. GenialityOfEvil says:

    I thought this was going to stray into Bloodborne territory, not in terms of difficulty but the combat just seems almost like Assassin’s Creed 1 without the stabby blade.

  2. ZedClampet says:

    OMG he’s picking up crafting supplies. Kill me now.

    • mtomto says:

      Yea, that was my thought too :) I love some good crafting, but not in every RPG and certainly not in a vampire themed game. In some games crafting is just a time sink, that adds absolutely zero to the gameplay.

      … And what’s up with a vampire using swords and guns? By this logic we might as well equip Superman with a crossbow next time.

      I would love a vampire themed RPG with dialogue options that matter. Forget about crafting, guns and swords – it’s too generic and has been done a thousand times.

      • Steravel says:

        … And what’s up with a vampire using swords and guns?

        I assume you’ve sat out the last decade or two of pop culture then?

        Vampires are superhero power fantasies now, rather than remotely scary undead predators, and have been for some time.

        • mtomto says:

          If you run around with a gun or sword in a game, does it really matter if you are superman, a vampire, a zombie or a pirate. The gameplay will usually be the same. So yea, in a game setting I would prefer to make use of the story elements given to you by the fact that you are a vampire. A game isn’t a movie, and can’t be compared.

          If you want a generic shooter game where you just happen to be a vampire too, then ok.

          • Steravel says:

            A game isn’t a movie, and can’t be compared.

            Not directly, but games spend a lot of time recreating cinematic experiences, and have been heavily mining movies for source material since their inception. Vampires have been action hero power fantasies in the popular culture for several decades, like it or not.

            If you want a generic shooter game where you just happen to be a vampire too, then ok.

            Hey, don’t blame me for all the gun toting, sword wielding cookie cutter action superheroes. I’m not particularly interested in this game. I’m just the messenger. Take it up with Rob Liefeld.

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            HothMonster says:

            Rob can’t be involved all the people in the game have normal looking feet.

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        Qazinsky says:

        I fail to see how a vampire wouldn’t do better in a fight with a sword or a gun, a sword + vampiric strength should be way more deadly than just vampiric strength and a gun gives the vampire some range.

        Superman has little use of a crossbow though, that is true, since he already got built in ranged capabilities.

        • Steravel says:

          Wouldn’t it be more interesting by far though, that if instead of an automatic weapon, the vampire, say, opened its mouth and spewed forth a swarm of rabid vampire bats that incapacitated enemies by getting tangled in their hair, forcing them into a shrieking, face-swatting panic?

          That’s the problem with Urban Fantasy as a genre in general. By grounding the supernatural in modern settings with contemporary combat, it also tends to root it firmly in the mundane.

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            Qazinsky says:

            Ah, I see now what he probably meant, not so much “why would a vampire use swords and guns”, more as “why must a vampire use boring old regular swords and guns”, my bad.

            To answer your question specifically though, no, I’d prefer to play a vampire using a sword and an automatic weapon myself, but that is a matter of taste, I prefer some supernatural strands grounded in “reality” (not punching will break your hand degree of reality though).

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            Qazinsky says:

            Ahem, matter of different taste, I did not mean to imply that thinking otherwise is lack of taste.

      • Reapy says:

        Lol I saw x5 Metal screws and immediately realized I’m not going to play this game. The combat section was further evidence they are probably toeing into things they probably should avoid.

    • gabrielonuris says:

      It made me cringe a little too; when it isn’t useless collectibles (hello Ubisoft!) it’s time sinking, snoozefest damn crafting systems. Why every game has to have those?

      • sosolidshoe says:

        It is baffling, but go watch Jesse Cox lifting up every goddamn object possible down to the paintbuckets to see if there’s a shiny underneath in his Deus Ex:MD letsplay and you can see some people clearly get a kick out of completionist tedium.

        I lasted five minutes before I had to turn it off, even watching someone be that monotonously thorough frustrates me. Hopefully this game ends up being more like Assassin’s Creed, where you can happily just ignore most of the Mapmarkerpalooza bollocks and play the actual game, rather than one of the ones that forces you into crafting and collecting just to maintain the basic gameplay loop.

      • Kolba says:

        Because Minecraft was made, and turned into a huge pile of cash. Now every game must have either proc-gen or crafting to be a success, and preferably it should have both.

  3. Darth Gangrel says:

    There aren’t that many vampire games to choose from, so while I’ll never consider playing e.g. Dark to sate my VtM: Bloodlines cravings I’m not discouraged by Pip’s criticism. Vampyr still seems like a good game, even though I don’t know enough to tell whether it’ll serve while Paradox figures out what they want to do with the source material of Bloodlines which they now own.

    • gabrielonuris says:

      Oh no, Dark… I still remember myself playing that travesty on christmas 2014… My god, what a terrible game. Finished it once to never have to come back again. Sometimes I even forget it exists, and when I remember it, I shudder thinking of the game it could have been.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Yeah, I might play this if the reviews aren’t terrible, and for the same reason. We’re not exactly swimming in vampire-theme RPGs. It’s like playing AC Black Flag because you like pirates, and there just aren’t that many pirate games. You take what you can get.

      I just hope this doctor guy has a little more depth than it seems from the previews. I’m already playing a game now where the protagonist is just a walking tool kit with no sense of character (DXMD).

  4. Babymech says:

    “Cemeteries that want to introduce this lighting will first have to test them on some mock funerals.” Dibs on not being the mock corpse.

  5. snv says:

    Looks very Dishonored too me.
    Not just because of the setting but also that teleportation and combat magic mix.

  6. Stevostin says:

    That lips sync is terrible.

  7. Don Reba says:

    I was hoping they’d return to cyberpunk after LiS. Remember Me was so brilliant, much underappreciated.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I’ve heard that the combat in Remember Me got in the way of the good stuff, such as walking around and exploring the world. Also, that there are too few instances of meddling with people’s memories and/or that there’s only one/a few solution(s) to those memory meddling parts. What do you say about that?

      • jonahcutter says:

        There wasn’t much to actually explore in Remember Me. It was extremely linear. But in that linearity it was gorgeous and filled with detail. It’s visual design is one of the best ones produced by games.

      • Don Reba says:

        I thought combat was implemented very well, but the memory meddling bits weren’t. The game’s concept is fairly interesting and the art absolutely gorgeous, but unskippable videos and somewhat boring memory manipulation mechanics got in the way.

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        alison says:

        Honestly, there isn’t much world to explore. You walk a linear path from arena to arena where you either get swarmed by lots of baddies, or you have a boss fight. The combat isn’t really bad, i guess, just tedious. But the boss fights. The boss fights are infuriating. Have i ever mentioned how much i hate boss fights? Boss fights are fucking awful. Boss fights are the single worst gameplay mechanic ever invented. Except perhaps crafting. Crafting is also pretty awful. But i digress.

        What makes Remember Me rise above its mediocre core is that the world is so, so pretty. Yeah, it’s nice to have a woman of color as the protagonist, although the story is no better than any other computer game melodrama. And the memory muddling bits are a really good idea, although they are executed far better in Life is Strange. But what makes it worth buying is the aesthetics. Everything is pretty. Even the menu is pretty. It’s a French game that hearkens back to the glory days of French games – janky but beautiful.

  8. jellydonut says:

    ‘If you are somewhere without the option of watching videos I will attempt to summarise’

    I love you for this. If only more sites would do this.

  9. woodsey says:

    The problem with Life is Strange was that it wasn’t videogamey enough. If you’re going to make a supremely heavy-handed and somewhat butchered adaptation of a Stoppard play then it had better have something mechanically interesting going on – which it doesn’t.

  10. w0bbl3r says:

    Have to say the criticism’s in the article are pretty much exactly what I was thinking yesterday when I saw this on youtube.
    It does just look so drab, the main character does look just so generic and “videogame-y”.
    Stabby/slashy/shooty just like any other game, but instead of a “finisher” animation we get a “blood drinking” animation.

    It’s all just so…… meh

  11. reggiep says:

    Boy has my perspective changed. I used to get upset when a game that looked like it had a lot of potential ended up being boring, generic nothing. Now, in the age of a mile long backlog, I welcome this.

    The combat, though “pre-alpha”, seems pretty awful. And the story, like a common Ubisoft game, seems completely at-odds with the gameplay (e.g. guy doesn’t want to kill in cutscene, murders indiscriminately in gameplay).

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      Aitrus says:

      I have read that you can go through the game without killing anyone, but it is hard. Not sure if this is still true.

      Either way though, yeah, there’s tonal dissonance there.

    • Zenicetus says:

      At least the tonal dissonance makes sense for a cursed protagonist, who has no choice except kill to survive in the service of a larger goal. He (presumably) didn’t choose to be a vampire.

      It was harder for me to stomach Lara’s moping about all the dead bodies she left behind in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Which lasted about 5 seconds, before she cheered up and said to herself that the ends justified the means. Well, okay then… stop complaining! You’ve got another 500 mooks to kill so we can end this dumb story.

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    Lars Westergren says:

    I’m still really positive about this. If it is more RPG and less action RPG, I think it can be another Dishonored, Deus Ex, Vampire: Bloodlines type game.

  13. Deviija says:

    Yeah… it really does look quite standard and videogame same-ol’ sameyness. I didn’t want to judge based on the earlier scant details, and I still don’t want to judge too harshly yet on pre-alpha content, but it is hard *not* to with this. From the protagonist to the dreary color palette to the dour grimdark setting, it feels like I’ve seen it and done it so many times before.

    And that is a hurtful letdown to feel since I have painfully been missing (old 90’s) World of Darkness adventures in my gaming life, and thought maybe this would bring a very neat choice-driven narrative WoD-y surrogate to my fingertips. :\

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