Dontnod sure does have an eclectic taste in video game development. From the gritty cyberpunk of RememberMe to the emotional roller coaster of the episodic adventure series Life is Strange. And then there’s Vampyr.
Last year’s bloodsucking action-RPG couldn’t have been a greater change in pace from the angsty teen drama of Life is Strange. The emphasis on storytelling and player choice remained a core foundation, but the dark, melancholy tone of its grim and violent Victorian London setting was certainly a stark contrast.
I was a big fan of the game, scoring it a healthy 4/5 in our review, which is right up there at the top of the spectrum compared with other outlets. There’s no doubt that Vampyr is certainly a little rough around the edges, but I felt that the wider ambition of it design more than made up for the lack of polish.
How many games have you played that let you shape a story by either playing detective or murdering vampire? And how many AA games manage to immerse you in a world with that level of atmosphere and tension?
There’s so much to love about Vampyr, and it’s one of the few games I’ve reviewed, enjoyed, and then been disappointed that others didn’t share my opinion.
Well, when I say others I mean other critics. Vampyr, as it turns out, found a huge audience of appreciative fans. Dontnod recently announced the game sold through one million units in around eight months, which is a huge accomplishment for a studio of that size.
Particularly so, considering that this was a brand new IP. The video game industry is notoriously sequel-driven, and many publishers simply won’t risk investing in new IPs that don’t have the same marketability.
Vampyr proved a big winner with fans, even in the face a middling critical reception, and as a AA production –the space in between low-budget indie games and multi-million dollar productions that’s all but faded away over the past decade.
Focus Home Interactive, the publisher that worked to produce Vampyr, is understandably keen to renew its partnership with the developer. Only last week it was announced that they would both collaborate again on an all-new project.
“We are proud to once again allow the talent of the studio to express itself on this new project which is intended to be among the most ambitious in the history of FOCUS and Dontnod,” said John Bert, COO of Focus Home Interactive.
“Vampyr is a great success and we are very happy to develop this partnership with this exciting new project, ” added Dontnod CEO Oskar Guilbert.
It’s certainly exciting to hear that we’ll get to enjoy another brainchild of this fruitful partnership, but having just lauded the pair for creating an exciting new IP in Vampyr, I do find myself clamoring for a sequel this time around. Vampyr 2 needs to happen sooner rather than later, doesn’t it?
The press release doesn’t write it off, per se. They speak of the new co-production as promising “to be one of the most ambitious in the history of the publisher and the studio,” but they’ve hardly confirmed it, either.
Although I wouldn’t expect them to announce Vampyr’s sequel in a press release, I do hope what we’re seeing here isn’t alluding to an all-new project.
Vampyr has so much potential reimagined as a bolder and more ambitious project. I’d rather see the pair focus on adding polish to an already solid foundation than going in a completely new direction.
Whether or not the story of a Vampyr sequel would pick up where the original left off or go with completely new characters, I’m not sure.
The multiple endings depending on player choice always makes that a tough one for developers. Perhaps it would be best for Dontnod to pick a canon ending if they were opting for the former?
I personally felt the game’s narrative started strong and then slightly petered out by the end. And while I did enjoy Dr. Reid –as well as the excellent voice acting– as a character, I wouldn’t be all that opposed to a fresh start.
What I’m most interested in is seeing Dontnod take a second crack at that same gameplay loop and the mesmerize choice system –aka, to bite or not to bite NPCs. That way in which the permadeath of important NPCs impacted the story and the dynamic of the city was Vampyr’s most brilliant attribute.
We’ll just have to wait and see what Dontnod and Focus Home have up their sleeves. To not greenlight a sequel after that many sales would certainly be bucking an industry trend, and I’m sure the million or so Vampyr fans out there are keen to see what a sequel would look like.
But if there’s one thing Dontnod’s proven over the past few years, it’s that they do things a little different to the rest of the industry.