The launch trailer for Vampyr landed on Friday, featuring a tortured monologue from the vampiric physician who struggles with his ravenous inner beast and his sworn oath to do no harm.
In Vampyr, an upcoming role-playing game from independent developer Dontnod Entertainment (best known for the episodic adventure series Life is Strange) players are cast into the role of Jonathan E. Reid, a Great War veteran and a hematologist who returns to London during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Shortly after he arrives, however, he’s attacked by a mysterious assailant who forcefully turns him into a vampire.
The moral conflict Reid struggles with in the Vampyr trailer is hardly new territory in fiction or even specifically in video games. Vampire: The Masquerade — Redemption and its indirect sequel Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines are the two most prominent titles to explore this theme. Both games dealt with morally ambiguous vampires navigating a modern world, drawn from the richly narrative tabletop RPG Vampire: The Masquerade from White Wolf Publishing.
But Vampyr sets itself apart with its setting and the way Reid preys upon his victims. The Spanish influenza was a devastating virus that claimed anywhere from 50 to 100 million lives, more than all the casualties of the First World War. For a vampire doctor, that’s an ideal situation to explain away deaths and hide corpses among the many mass graves.
Along with Reid’s personal story arc of balancing his humanity with his monstrosity as displayed in the launch trailer, previous coverage of the game hinted at a conspiratorial purpose behind Reid’s transformation into a creature of the night.
The world of the damned in Vampyr is multilayered. In a nod towards White Wolf’s complex vampire society, the vampires in Vampyr are fractured into various groups. Reid is an Ekon, the aristocratic vampires popularized from Anne Rice’s novels. There are the Skals, hideous creatures who live underground and are reminiscent of Count Orlok from Nosferatu, and the hulking Volkods who can transform into werewolves. The Nemrods are vampires who despise and hunt their own kind.
Reid must navigate this new shadowy world and uncover the true reasons behind why he was turned while hunting the very people he swore to heal. The premise may sound kind of corny, but the execution is shaping up to be quite promising.
Vampyr is set to release on June 5, 2018