Picture the scene. It’s London, 1918, and the streets are cold, quite and eerily deserted.
The silence is occasionally punctuated by piercing coughs and howls of anguish, as Spanish flu rampages through the capital.
This is not the only reason for citizens to worry, however, as yet another threat lurks deep within the growing shadows. That’s right, vampires are stalking the city’s overcrowded slums, targeting those who dare to venture outside.
No, this is not the latest original Netflix series or period drama, but in fact a game that has been designed by the team at Parisian studio DONTNOD Entertainment, best known for their acclaimed adventures Remember Me and Life is Strange.
With Vampyr currently due to be released on PS4, PC and Xbox One platforms late in 2017, its most recent outing at E3 in 2016 reaffirmed that it remained at the early stages of development. Given the pedigree of DONTNOD Entertainment’s previous releases, however, it is likely that fans can expect a thoughtful, stylish and ultimately immersive adventure.
So what do we know? In short, Vampyr requires players to take control of Jonathan Reid, a doctor, healer and recently-initiated creature of the night. Convinced that his condition is curable, his quest is to find a cure while also staying alive and feeding his craving for blood. The more characters that you are able to feed on, the more you will be able to progress throughout the game’s various levels and layers.
It is at this point that Vampyr introduces an element of autonomy and social commentary, as players are challenged in terms of how far they would go to feed their innate desires while in the pursuit of a specific goal.
Killing makes your character stronger, but are you really willing to feed on innocent citizens who add feeling and narrative to your adventure? This intriguing premise strikes an unusual balance between horror and social balance, while at its core it asks probing questions about your outlook as a human being.
Vampyr looks to also be an informed and fascinating (and not to mention accurate) glimpse into Victorian England. This combination of insight, narrative and social commentary is relatively new to horror genre, and it certainly adds an interesting dimension to this type of gaming experience.
We should not be surprised that such a title has been released by DONTNOD Entertainment, of course, as these developers have a reputation for producing thoughtful and mentally engaging games.
It will certainly serve as a welcome addition to the horror genre, which has already seen significant diversification across the console platform. It’s been a while since a good vampire game has seen light of day, so Vampyr could fill a much-needed niche in the genre. It may even blaze a trail for future games in this space, as developers continue to push the boundaries of what such titles can achieve.