If you’ve yet to sink your teeth into the juicy neck of Vampyr, then you may want to hang fire until later this summer when two new difficulty modes are unleashed upon DONTNOD’s narrative driven vampire adventure. The update also addresses feedback since the game launched. But the best news is that a story mode is launching, so if you couldn’t get on with the combat – or were put off by it – then you can tackle the game in a mode that “de-emphasizes combat”.
For those that revelled in the combat, a “cranked-up” hard mode is also launching. This adds in more challenging combat scenarios, which rewards less XP from fights, making the choices of who to embrace that much more vital as this will be the only real way to get XP.
DONTNOD are quite clearly offering something for everyone – well done!
Mixing elements of Remember Me and Life is Strange; Vampyr takes the strengths of Dontnod’s previous titles and successfully blends the two into a mighty offering.
What if you awoke to find that you had become a blood-sucking creature? That’s exactly the premise behind Vampyr and in the opening scenes, the game establishes the main character, Doctor Jonathan Reid, and sets a vague back-story. So begins a quest to save London from an epidemic, and more importantly, find out how Jonathan has become a Vampire.
To do this you must guide Jonathan through many varied conversations with the inhabitants of London, spread across four districts. Despite being a vampire most people are only too happy to chat and only by talking with all of the NPCs will you unravel the many mysterious stories that each of them hide. Talking not only reveals hidden secrets about the world, but side quests can also be uncovered, which potentially means more XP can be gained, which is the cleanest way to unlock your vampiric powers.
Should you decide to fully embrace the life of a vampire, revealing all hidden information about each character before you ‘embrace’ them (read bite them in the neck) will reward the maximum amount of XP for their demise. A mesmerize mechanic means you need to be at least the same level as an NPC you wish to bite, meaning you can’t wipe out someone integral to the storyline.
If you can’t resist the urge to bite someone or need a swift boost in XP then you will not only risk losing quests, but whole social circles can collapse and eventually the district these people reside in will fall to chaos. Instead of the streets being lined with vampire hunters, they fill with all manner of evil creatures – werewolves included.
It’s a wonderful system that keeps you constantly considering whether the risk is worth the reward. This is further exasperated by an XP system that is only deposited when you sleep in a safehouse, only then can you spend XP in skill trees. It’s during this moment that time moves and each district’s health changes depending on your previous actions. It’s a really neat mechanic that will make you ponder the best moment to use your banked XP – sleeping while a district is close to turmoil, a citizen is in danger or neglect to craft some medicine to heal a district’s inhabitants, and it will fall into chaos far quicker.
Districts can also fall through your own negligence. What may seem like an insignificant character can often turn out to be someone of great importance. Then there are characters that are pillars in each community – let these people fall and the whole area can be wiped out in a single night. It’s an incredible feat that DONTNOD have expertly crafted using all their experience from developing Life is Strange – but if you don’t like to talk then you may find Vampyr quite the bore.
Despite its many accomplishments with the narrative, the game’s biggest and must surprisingly downfall is the combat. I loved the combat of Remember Me, so I am a little bemused at how DONTNOD have got it so wrong with Vampyr.
In the early hours of the game the combat is brutal. One hit kills are unfair and you get ganked by groups of thugs. Invest some XP in one or two skills and craft your weapons up a few levels and soon you will have no problem with the combat. This does mean that boredom can set in pretty quickly. Each combat scenario is essentially a rinse and repeat of the last – not even boss battles can provide enough respite.
Eventually, facing the same enemy types over and over becomes a drag and towards the end of the game defeated enemies yield little XP, meaning I opted to just run through the streets of the London rather than battling through them.
The combat isn’t a complete loss. Despite a lack of finesse there is a neat system of health, stamina and blood. Health is the obvious trait to explain, as is stamina, which governs whether you can attack or dodge. Blood restricts your use of vampiric powers and only by using certain weapons or syringe buffs can you restore your blood quickly.
Another way to replenish blood is to bite an enemy by first stunning them by either sneaking up on them or by knocking their stamina down. Each enemy is also resistant to certain attacks so there is a rather edgy side to combat, but one that is ultimately lost when you reach higher XP levels. The early considerations that make the combat so damn tough are quickly left by the wayside once you invest in some skills and craft better weapons. Soon you can cut through each fight by simply bashing the attack buttons while occasionally dodging and launching the odd vampiric attack.
Vampyr creates a wonderfully neat spiderweb against a stark environment so it’s a shame the combat wasn’t more polished. If you enjoy the conversational side of games – learning about people and solving tangled mysteries – then Vampyr will be an utter joy to experience. Tracking down people and piecing together their lives became a strange addiction and before deciding to bite down on a neck, I always strived to find out all I could about them. Ultimately though, your enjoyment of Vampyr will largely be governed by how much you’ve enjoyed DONTNOD’s previous work.
DONTNOD are knocking out the titles and from a studio that only really released one at a time, to see a new title set in the Life is Strange universe was quite a surprise and a rather exciting one at that – I sure did love Life is Strange.
Young Chris is at the centre of story. Living with his Father having ‘lost’ his mother, Chris retreats to his imagination of monsters and spaceships, which I guess is an attempt to retreat from his grief. Unlike the other games, The awesome adventures of Captain Spirit is singular experience – no episodic content – and serves as a prequel to Life is Strange 2, offering a glimpse of what is to come if you can piece together the clues.
The awesome adventures of Captain Spirit launches for free on June 26, 2018.
Third time lucky is certainly true of today’s PlayStation reveal. DONTNOD are releasing a brand new title, Twin Mirror, and already I am super stoked. The trailer, which looks beautiful, gives little away and leaves me with many questions – make up your own mind what is going on, there could even be some clues in the title – but there are some serious Max Payne vibes going on.
Focus Home Interactive and DONTNOD Entertainment have announced “DONTNOD Presents Vampyr”, an original weekly four-part web series, which reveals the studio’s signature approach to bringing narrative-driven RPG Vampyr to life. I for one am very excited by the studio’s follow-up to Life Is Strange and I have my fingers crossed for the same high level of storytelling!
In each 5-minute episode, the French developer invites fans into the heart of their Parisian studio to unveil exclusive new gameplay footage accompanied with deep insight into their creative process, beginning with Episode I: Making Monsters on January 18.
In the first episode, Making Monsters, DONTNOD delves into their signature identity and reasons behind putting players into the role of a conflicted predator. The studio will make players feel the duality that torments doctor-turned-vampire Jonathan Reid, giving them the freedom to choose who to sacrifice and who to save. Every killing has consequences, and it’s up to players to balance their need to feed and grow stronger, with the rapidly deteriorating city of London.
Four episodes are planned in total for the weekly series:
· Episode I: Making Monsters
· Episode II: Architects of the Obscure
· Episode III: Human After All
· Episode IV: Stories From the Dark
Based in Paris, DONTNOD develops video games for consoles and PC based on original concepts and innovative technologies. Since the release of Remember Me and the critically acclaimed Life Is Strange, the studio is internationally recognized for the quality of its narrative games set in immersive and innovative worlds. Today DONTNOD is working on the narrative-driven RPG Vampyr, a new Life Is Strange game as well as new yet unannounced projects
Life Is Strange is one of my all time favorite games, so I let out a squeal of delight when i saw the news from developer DONTNOD that they are working on a sequel.
Life Is Strange was originally released in 2015 and won the BAFTA Games Award for Best Story. The game’s plot focuses on Max Caulfield, a photography student who discovers that she has the ability to rewind time at any moment, leading her to try to stop an impending disaster. However, the main draw of the story was the relationships between the characters and how your decisions affected the world around you across differing time periods.
I for one cannot wait to see what the sequel will bring us!
I’ve enjoyed the Life is Strange season so far. It’s hard to believe that it’s now coming to an end, since it’s initial episode release in February. It has taken an age to conclude, yet it’s with some regret that this is the last in this season. Let’s dive in and hope for a spoiler-free event.
The opening scenes will remind you of the past four episodes and reality comes flooding back for Max as the enormity of her situation becomes apparent. The storm is raging, Max isn’t in a position to get to safety and you’re left wondering how you’re going to get to safety. You’ve got limited mobility at this time and Max’s ‘Focus’ ability to enter photos will come into play. It all goes a little bit ‘Inception’ on us from here and realities get more and more intertwined. You play out a conversation with the only other person in the room to set up a sequence of events to allow you to dive into a picture.
This became a little bit of a drag after the 2nd or 3rd attempt, but persevere and you’ll get there. Once you’ve got those in the right order, Max has a number of tasks to try to complete in the confines of those photos and the puzzles are pretty straight-forward to begin with. There are photo opportunities to grab throughout this sequence too, to give you some more gamer points, and I know I’m going to have to replay the whole season again as I know I’ve missed a boat-load of them.
The story here takes a bit of a bizarre twist. As Max goes from photo to photo, altering time, saving friends and dropping others into the mire, the focus changes as each sequence completes. These show how Max’s actions have changed history for the residents of Arcadia Bay, but the storm is still approaching.
This section, if I’m honest, feels a little like you’re being led around by the nose. Your path wasn’t necessarily linear in the previous episodes, but in Polarized, it’s apparent that this path is leading Max to a conclusion, for good or ill. Max is encouraged to ‘Focus’ on photos a few more times, in a desperate attempt to change the past, but the strains of Max using her power begins to take its toll and as suddenly as Max’s life looks to be taking a turn for the better, she’s back to square one.
The effect on Max at this point is plain to see and her actions are more born of survival and desperation in the choices on offer than anything else. These interactions are a combination of measured logical thinking and some blind luck in the interactive object spotting. There’s an altercation to be had and Max pretty much must beg for her life to start the chain of events that leads to her eventual rescue. Here, too, there’s a major decision to be had and this ultimately decides a major character’s fate.
After this scene, Max is left to her own devices, but missing a vital part of her inventory, and with the storm raging outside, her decision is to head towards familiar ground. Desperate to pass on some news, and to find one more photo to ‘Focus’ into, Max heads to the Two Whales Diner, where her friend Warren holds on to something that she needs.
The journey to the diner starts by stealing a car, and after a Life is Strange, infamous Indie short musical interlude while she drives through the weather, Max pulls up a close as she can, being forced to walk the rest of the journey. This is not as easy as it sounds however. The wind howls around Max and the rain lashes against her. Here you’ll have to use Max’s time-bending powers to avoid obstacles and work out how to save some of the residents of Arcadia Bay. This section is again, a little disappointing as all of the opportunities to save the population are optional. The episode would have been better served to focus on this rather than something that happens much more towards the end of the Season.
Having battled your way through the average UK Autumn weather to the Diner, you need to think quickly in order to be able to get in. There’s yet another photo opportunity here, although quite why Max would take time out to snap off a picture in that weather is beyond me. Inside the Diner is Warren, Chloe’s mum Joyce and drug-dealer Frank, who looks inconsolable. You can talk to all three, with a minor choice to be made for Frank and Joyce, but it’s Warren who you’ll really need to talk to, to get your hands on that photo.
All of this culminates in Max finding Chloe and convincing her to carry out some instructions to finally alter the timeline for good, right? Here’s where the story takes an even stronger turn for the weird and again, it feels like you’re just being led around. There are flashbacks, some bizarre imagery and very few puzzles from here on in. The last quarter of this episode really does take you on a trip, in more ways than one, and I was left wondering if all this was simply a dream.
There’s still a further plot-twist though, and the very final choice to be made. The ultimate choice that challenges Max’s beliefs and tests her mental resolve. It’s an emotional scene from Dontnod and it’s an agonising choice to make to round the Season off. The episode explores darkness and light, in more ways than the visual spectrum, and the play of shadow and shade on people’s lives.
Life is Strange Episode 5 rounds the season off in a rather bizarre fashion, and oddly, it didn’t appeal to me as much as the previous episodes. The gameplay seems to want to lead you around by the nose and the puzzles, when they do present themselves, are far too simple, or devilishly difficult. There’s no in-between. It’s almost as if the writers have wanted to tie up all of the loose ends in the story before they can be satisfied that this season is done and dusted. That’s fine, to a degree, but it made for a slightly more surreal than necessary ending to what has been an excellent foray into the life of a teen and the amazing powers that any one of them could possess. I’ve enjoyed Life is Strange greatly as an entire season though, and there’s certainly more replay value in the fact that I’ve missed so many achievements and would like to see what happens when I change my personal choices. Dontnod and Square Enix have a hit combination on their hands overall though, despite dropping the c-bomb in this final episode, and I can’t wait for Season 2 – hopefully we haven’t seen the last of Max and Arcadia Bay!
The season finale of Life is Strange is on its way and is due out today for Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
For the fifth and final episode Max will have to make the most pain staking decision of her life while learning that time cannot be controlled by anyone. With every moment a huge storm is drawing nearer to Arcadia Bay, what kind of exciting conclusion will Life is Strange come to?
Dontnod have revealed that they are hoping to release the fifth and final episode of Life is Strange on October 20, though they will push that back if things aren’t quite ready.
The news was revealed on the official Square Enix blog, by producer Luc Baghadoust.
He explained that the episode “is getting closer to submission and we have almost completed development. We don’t normally announce a date until we know the game is 100% ready but in the spirit of Max’s birthday (today) we wanted to let you know early that we are aiming to release Episode 5 ‘Polarized’ October 20.