E3 2017 Impressions: Vampyr shows a city with a bloody, beating heart

E3 2017 Impressions: Vampyr
Vampyr releases November 2017 on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4

Another of the games I got to check out at E3 2017 was Vampyr, which is being developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Focus Home Interactive. In this action-adventure RPG, you play as Jonathan Reid, a doctor and recently turned vampire in London during the outbreak of the Spanish Flu.

E3 2017 Impressions: Vampyr

Vampyr has an eerie, unsettling aesthetic that accurately grabs the mood of London after the turn of the century. Streets and wharfs alike are appropriately packed, with the entire city being crammed full of people and supplies, easily aiding the idea that plague could infect quickly.

That said, by far the most impressive and ambitious feature of Vampyr is its system of NPCs. Every single one of them is named, has a story, personal interactions and their own unique way they affect the world. There are four distinct districts and each has their own bustling community.

Compounding this, as Jonathan is a vampire, while he gains experience from completing quests and killing enemies, the fastest and most efficient way to unlock new powers is to feed. The higher the quality of your victim’s blood, the more you’ll benefit. Obviously, if you don’t want to feed you don’t have to, but you’ll struggle against higher level enemies without an easy way to level up.

In a very nice throwback to actual Vampiric lore, Jonathan’s abilities and weaknesses seem close to those outlined in the original Dracula novel. He can shapeshift into a cloud of bats as well as charm and influence people however, he cannot step into a house without first being invited in.

In the demo I watched, while investigating some murders at a local hospital, Jonathan interacted with a man who seemed more than a bit nervous. After carefully following him from a distance, some interesting things were revealed however, it was complicated by his relationship with his mother and brother. Without spoilers, after one of them is eliminated, the entire dynamic changes and the district suffers as a result. Balancing Jonathan’s oath to help the sick as a doctor with his newfound bloodlust doesn’t look to be easy, especially since it’s easy to imagine London might be better off without some of the people you’ll encounter.

Combat looks good, though some of the animations still look like they need a bit more polish. Jonathan can use melee and ranged weapons, as well as an absolutely terrifying array of vampiric powers. There’s a nice variety of enemies, from rioters and thugs to specialized vampire hunters to other breeds of lesser vampire called Skals. In districts where NPCs have been eliminated, Skals will actually swarm out and take over, nearly turning London into a warzone.

Overall, Vampyr is by far one of the most impressive and audacious games I saw at E3. Come November, if this system of districts and NPCs actually works in full as it is being described and demoed, Focus Home Interactive and Dontnod Entertainment have something incredible on their hands.