Vampyr sees you taking on the role of Jonathan Reid in the year 1918. Reid is a doctor renowned for his work with blood transfusions who previously worked as a combat medic in the war. On a visit to London to visit his ailing mother, he is murdered and thrown into a mass grave. That same night, he awakens and discovers that not only is he a vampire now, but that his thirst for blood is insatiable. Following a bit of a tragic twist in the opening moments, Jonathan sets out to find out who made him into a vampire and discovers a scheme to thwart in the process too.
Vampyr is probably DONTNOD’s most ambitious game yet, allowing the player to explore a semi-open world of London. Separated into districts, the streets have been ravaged by the Spanish Flu pandemic. In short: it’s dilapidated, it’s depressing and everyone’s morale in London is at an all time low. Jonathan can further his own investigation, stopping into hideouts along the way to craft medicines for his patients or weapons and items for himself; or he can tend to other people’s problems.Jonathan can carry out investigations for the people he meets in London, though they aren’t ever more than collecting an item and returning it or speaking to someone and convincing them of something. Despite this, many of these side quests commonly feature a split where Jonathan must make a choice that’ll impact the life of someone in the game. These decisions are almost always straightforward but drawing from the developer’s pedigree (ie. Life Is Strange, Remember Me) these choices feel like they have real weight and consequence.
The biggest choices you can make in Vampyr are in who you’ll consume to better improve Dr Reid and his powers. Every character you meet in Vampyr has their own (well developed) story as well as social circles that influences who they interact with. Helping them out, curing them of their ailments or getting to know them better improves the quality of their blood. Whenever you want, you can take the life of these citizens and absorb experience points, with the people you’ve spent time helping to yield more experience than the people you just met.The game cleverly gates off these people with an arbitrary level so that you don’t just kill everyone straight away and stop the plot from progressing, but there are very real consequences to who you choose to murder. Killing a “pillar” of one of the districts will make it harder to manage, as people will get sick quicker and be less cooperative, making it harder to maximise your experience gains. On a smaller scale, killing the lover of another character may significantly alter how the widowed character interacts with Jonathan from that point on, locking off further bonding with that character.