With Vampyr, Dontnod is moving away from the contemporary, relatable world of Life is Strange to something much more sinister. The studio's new focus is a familiar exploration of genre fiction, where vampires are deadly enemies with powerful abilities.
Dontnod's tale stars a doctor-turned-vampire named Jonathan Reid. As Jonathan attempts to unravel the mystery behind his making, he's faced with moral dilemmas on how to survive and who to kill. A hands-off E3 2016 demo, lead by game director Philippe Moreau, demonstrated the ways players will take control of Jonathan and his newfound talents.
Early in the demo, Jonathan gets himself into a tussle with a group of hunters. His attacks are swift and vicious: melee attacks, shots popped off a gun and the ability to "embrace" and feed directly on your victims. While eating your enemies is the most effective way to kill and further power your abilities, Moreau said that "it's also your most risky move."
As the battle drew to a close, Jonathan summoned his most intimidating move of all — the ability to summon a cloud of smoke that grabs a human, holds them tight and then impales them. Brutal.
Vampyr's demo may have been combat-heavy, but it also offered a brief look at how the game's conversations will play out. As with Life is Strange, Dontnod's recent episodic game, players will have different dialogue options during conversations — a wheel of choices that will allow them to shape how Jonathan responds in specific scenarios.
Jonathan has many vampire talents at his disposal, but he'll also need to be clever. Players will gather information through investigations and conversations with other characters. This information will flesh out individual files for each citizen; during the demo, Moreau explained how players can use information to pry further into conversations with a man named Joe. However, as Joe was "not a nice guy," Moreau further demonstrated one of Jonathan's more menacing options — the ability to mesmerize and then eat people. Jonathan leads Joe into a dark area and drains him, both killing him and leveling up in a truly game-y scenario.
The moment emphasizes that Vampyr's world is full of death, in case you needed reminding. There are the citizens killed by disease, either burned or buried upon their demise. There are those who die by Jonathan's hand, groups of vampires and hunters alike, who would do him harm. And then there are the citizens that Jonathan feeds on by choice, the consequences of which will play out over the course of the game.
Jonathan does have the power, however, to do more than just bring death, Moreau said. He can actually use his doctor skills to craft medicine and heal citizens of the city, an action that will have an important impact.
"Each district of the game also has a score based on the average health conditions of the citizens," Moreau said. "If some of them get sick or are killed, the score of the district will decrease."
As the demo drew to a close, it brought with it a vision of the district suffering. If players choose to slaughter citizens, or even don't act to heal them, it's a grim future filled with fire and decay.