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Gaming's Galen Reich gives his impressions of Vampyr, the latest choice-based RPG from Dontnod
Set in 1918, at the height of the Spanish flu epidemic, Vampyr follows the story of Doctor Jonathan E. Reid as he returns to London from medical duty at the end of World War 1. On his arrival back home, Reid is attacked and regains consciousness with no idea that he has been corrupted by vampirism. This tale sets the stage for the latest game to play from developer Dontnod, a gritty gothic vampire RPG where actions have consequences.
Researching for a cure to the Spanish flu and bound by his Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, Reid now finds himself fighting a primal bloodlust, each life presenting him with a moral decision: does he break his oath in order to aid his own survival, or does he grow weak and risk death, unable to complete his cure. The developers have put an emphasis on the consequences of players’ actions and it will be interesting to see if they manage to pull this off in the truly dynamic way that they imply (the previous game from Dontnod, Life is Strange, left players divided over the impact of their choices).
Reid’s goal to discover the origins of vampirism and its links to the Spanish flu will take him on a twisting journey through high society and the most depraved parts of the city. On his way he will come across a variety of different species of vampire, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and motivations in the world, not all of which are benign.
The combat system feels like the combat system of Dishonored 2, with various abilities, powers, and weapons at the player’s fingertips. As the player feeds and gains experience, they can evolve Reid’s vampiric abilities, strengthening and customizing them to match their favoured play-style.
Set only at night (it is a vampire game after all!) the atmospheric and disease-ridden London of Vampyr appears well-researched and meticulously built, promising a shadowy and dynamic world to investigate, discover, and shape.