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Found 18 results

  1. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Review: Vampyr

    Dontnod has made a name for itself over the last several years as a publisher willing to try new things and take risks. Mixed reactions to their debut effort Remember Me grew into acclaim for Life Is Strange. Three years have passed since Life Is Strange captivated players; Dontnod used that time to not only craft a sequel, due out this year, but also something completely different. Unlike anything the developer has tackled before, Vampyr takes players into a dark and dirty vision of early 1900s London; a world of death, disease, and vampires. Doctor Jonathan Reid, a field medic returning from the battlefields of World War I, awakens in the corpse pits of a London under siege by the Spanish flu, a brutal virus that swept through the real world shortly after the turn of the century. Maddened by a profound hunger and the echoing words of an ethereal entity, Dr. Reid stumbles through the carnage, happening upon a woman looking through the dead. She knows him, embraces him, and in a fit of insanity, he digs his fangs deep into her neck. He drinks, she dies, and he is reborn - sane and in agony at the realization of his crime. This opening scene strives to capture the unsettling horror of Vampyr on a small scale, giving players a textual stake (har har) in the consequences of their actions. You see, Mary, the woman murdered in the opening minutes of Vampyr happens to be Mary Reid, Dr. Reid's sister. This death haunts Jonathan throughout the game in a way that can profoundly alter the course of events, depending on how players choose to develop the doctor as a character. Vampyr tempts players with blood at every opportunity. Completing quests rewards players with nice chunks of experience that can be used on a variety of vampyric and scientific abilities. However, players can take shortcuts to power by manipulating the citizens of London, mesmerizing and taking them to dark corners for a taste of their blood. This kills them, of course, but grants thousands of experience points, more than can be gained by completing quests. The system encourages players to take care of the people they meet, treating their illnesses with appropriate remedies and learning their secrets by interacting with the people in their social circle. The healthy blood of someone more intimately known provides quite a bit more experience than someone almost totally unknown who has been struck with the plague. As the primary vampire of Vampyr, players have to be careful how they exercise their newfound power. Some parts of London's communities are more necessary than others. The pillars of each community hold those around them together by their presence and tireless efforts. Killing those people could bring the entire district they live in crashing down under the weight of the epidemic. Not all parts of the community can claim to be aligned with those constructive forces, however. Some proudly declare themselves criminals while others hide dark secrets of murder and abuse. Of course, no matter who Jonathan chooses to feed upon, the community will react. It could leave it a better place, but that act of murder could also plunge everything into chaos, leaving openings for the plague to seep in among the bodies. Players who seek to walk a nobler path will be pleased to know that the life of bloodsucking innocents can be avoided almost entirely. However, those who opt out of this staple activity of vampirism will find themselves at a definite disadvantage, making do with fewer and less powerful blood and shadow based powers. The difficulty will definitely have some players looking longingly at the NPC they know to be a murderer, contemplating murder for their extra experience. The point of the difficult path is to tempt the righteous to fall, and the developers certainly play into that aspect of their game. Dontnod cleverly leaves the player with the ultimate decision to give Mary Reid's death meaning. Will Jonathan steer the hardest path and make his first steps as a newborn vampire without sacrificing others along the way? Will he pursue power at all costs, slaughtering as many people as London can bare? Or will he walk a middle path, turning himself into the judge, jury, and executioner of London's wickedest denizens? Those are interesting questions to explore over the course of Vampyr and answer for yourself. The system that enables this, the complex net of relationships and dependencies of each section of London that shift with each death, must have taken an incredible amount of effort to create, and stands out as one of Vampyr's best features. It's strange, then, that Vampyr does not choose to focus its narrative that core systemic conceit. Instead, the narrative revolves around a series of three acts to which the residents of London play background parts as pieces of set dressing and leveling opportunities - a decision which defangs the whole "needing to kill for the blood needed to survive" aspects of vampires. The first act revolves around Jonathan Reid coming to terms with his role in his sister's death and his new life as an Ekon, Vampyr's term for the beings we traditionally know as vampires. It is here that we are also introduced to the other varieties of vampires. Skals make up the majority of vampires, but are often people who failed to transform into full Ekons, often going mad in the process. They only need to eat flesh to live and don't require blood the way other vampires do. Vulkod are the brutes of the vampire kingdom, possessing superior speed and strength to other kinds, but often losing themselves to blood rages. Other kinds exist, too, but they are left to be mysterious around the edges of British vampire society. Before going on, we should note that the icing of yet another woman in the opening minutes of a video game for dramatic effect, a trope with a long tradition (I'm looking at you, Shadow of Mordor), is getting so old. It doesn't help that this is the game's cold open; as players, we have no investment in Jonathan or his sister within those few minutes, which robs even more drama out of this storytelling cliche. The cliche compounds in the closing minutes of the first act as it practically repeats itself. This is lazy writing, and it doesn't sit well in 2018. We can and should do better than going for cheap shock value and character motivation. The second act expands the world with more details about the various factions: The Guards of Priwen, the Ascalon Club, and the Brotherhood of St. Paul's Stole. The Guards of Priwen act as a human check on vampire activity during the epidemic, wandering the streets and killing any kind of mutated beast they come across. The Ascalon Club operates as an exclusive group of vampires who seek to control the wider world, a kind of shadow government based on blood purity. Finally, The Brotherhood of St. Paul seems to mostly be a group of holy researchers who are more pragmatic than the Guards of Priwen and prioritize the greater good over any vampire vendettas. This act is also when many of the pillars of each London community have to be addressed by the player, often in ways that could doom the communities if handled poorly - but perhaps that's what a less scrupulous Dr. Reid desires? The third and final act introduces a lot of esoteric lore that was barely hinted at throughout the preceding sections of Vampyr. The final twenty or thirty minutes of Vampyr possesses an energy lacking in the earlier segments of the game as secret after secret comes tumbling out and the narrative pieces all begin coming together. To say much about these closing minutes would spoil quite a bit, but suffice it to say that a Vampyr 2 would be incredibly welcome as Dontnod veers far afield of what might be considered the classical vampire stylings they had adopted up until that point. Overall, the narrative takes an understandable detour around its core system based around vampyric feeding and winds up with a tale composed of many interesting parts when taken on their own, but without much of a through line keeping it all connected. Mary's death recedes into the background after the end of the first act, replaced by a lot of factional drama that doesn't ultimately get resolved or have many consequences in act two. The third act concludes the plague plot and possesses the strongest focus of the three parts, but doesn't have much to do with the themes of previous sections. The feeding mechanic further muddles the themes of the game. Doctor Jonathan Reid makes a distinction between killing average citizens and those those who oppose him. For example, when it comes to one of the in-game factions called the Guards of Priwen the good doctor seems to have carte blanche to drink their blood and kill without mercy. This leads to moments throughout the game where Dr. Reid claims to have not killed anyone, provided the player has not fed on one of the civilians of London, despite the massive trail of bodies left behind him as he tore through the Priwenites in the streets of the city. This isn't an active impediment to enjoying Vampyr, but it represents a larger problem of mixed messaging that erodes Vampyr's story structure. The combat mechanics also present a fun, flawed opportunity that needed refinement. There are a handful of abilities to choose from, each of which can be upgraded, eventually into diverging paths. These include defensive moves, like creating a shield of blood, attacks, like creating a large area of exploding darkness beneath enemies, utility maneuvers, like invisibility or leaping into enemies, and your garden variety carry more of bullets or serums and increase health/stamina/blood. More variety would have been welcome, as after initially deciding which skills to take the system encourages you to stick with those until the end. There's not much room for experimentation or really a need for much as almost any offensive skill will carry you through to the end of the game. On its own, the combat serves its purpose. When everything is going well, it feels serviceable. Dashing out of combat range to set shadowy traps, whirling through enemies with one of the small variety of interchangeable weapons, powering up an ultimate maneuver, it all can be exciting. That is, at least, provided technical issues or strange design decisions don't get in the way. Some of the enemies have variable attack ranges, will sometimes land a hit without actually hitting anything, and many powers don't feel all that effective. Enemies are often made more difficult by giving them more health and damage rather than interesting mechanics to play around and counter with your own growing arsenal of vampy powers. One of the most consistently irritating aspects of Vampyr's combat is that if you die in battle, you return to a section just outside the area where you died. That's fine, but any consumables you used in the fight disappear. Struggling through a boss fight only to die at the last minute? Well, good luck trying it again with out any healing items, stamina boosts, or additional blood transfusions. Alternatively, have fun trudging back through the areas you just battled through to make more of those items because you have to craft them all yourself at specific crafting stations and can't store more than you can hold in your inventory at any one time. That means that if you can only hold two serums for use in battle, you can only craft and hold two serums of each type at any given time. The other issue that plagues Vampyr boils down to mobility. As a vampire, Jonathan Reid can shadow dash and teleport himself to higher vantage points. This seems like it would be a particular useful ability to escape combat situations or navigate the world. Unfortunately, once Dr. Reid enters combat, he loses the ability to travel vertically to escape his assailants. The game simply won't allow that to happen until everyone in the area has perished. This becomes irritating when you realize that often these optional fights simply take up time and resources without giving much in return. The flipside of this issue rears its head when it comes to world traversal. Mobility stands out as one of the defining aspects of vampires both in the myths and legends of our world and in the game itself. Characters routinely disappear out windows or appear seemingly out of nowhere. Our protagonist doctor doesn't seem capable of this outside of very specific circumstances. This attaches Jonathan firmly to the ground, no doubt as a means of gating player progress from more dangerous areas in the opening portions of Vampyr. In the absence of a fast travel system, players constantly find themselves backtracking across districts and areas that had previously been cleared, but enemies constantly respawn. It becomes one of the most tedious aspects of Vampyr and probably a large reason why the middle act seems to sag and lose so much momentum. Running freely along the rooftops of London or flying through the air as a cloud of shadow bats could have gone a long way toward easing this frustration, even if it only became accessible later on. Instead, we are left with a system that grants freedom of movement, but only on its own constrictive terms. It would be a grave oversight to not talk a bit about the visuals of Vampyr. London has never looked so dingy, squalid, and vaguely post-apocalyptic (in video games, obviously) than in Dontnod's bloodsucking adventure. Drainage water sits tepid in the streets, reflecting the shining moonlight from between damp cobblestones. Candle light filters through boarded windows. Each NPC has a distinctive face, model, and animations that sets them apart from everyone else (if you don't count the enemies that you meet in combat). Everything looks grim, dirty, and that can all come together to resemble the locations sought out by urban explorers for their decaying beauty. The effort that went into making London an interesting locale shows; despite all the backtracking, it doesn't wear out its welcome. The voice acting does quite a bit of work to sell the various characters. Notably, Anthony Howell turns in an incredible performance as Dr. Jonathan Reid. You can feel the sorrow and pain in his voice, a character who has seen and done horrible things on the battlefields of Europe and now must contend with the twisted homeland to which he has returned. Dr. Edgar Swansea, an eccentric doctor who treats with vampires and mortals alike, helps to expand and explain the world with the aid of Harry Hadden-Paton's performance. People might recognize Hadden-Paton as the voice actor behind the male Inquisitor's voice in Dragon Age: Inquisition or his role in Downton Abbey as Bertie Pelham. Katherine Kingsley manages to create a compelling and mysterious character with her role as Lady Ashbury, a centuries old vampiress whose every line drips with the weight of history. It is a difficult role and Kingsley plays it perfectly. In the hands of these capable professionals, what could have been a campy story about vampires turns into a tale filled with genuine drama and memorable exchanges. Conclusion: Dontnod deserves to be applauded for taking risks in a time during which many developers opt for the sure thing time after time. The world and characters they have created in Vampyr could easily be continued in future games, something I very much hope that they do. They took concepts that many might have thought done to undeath and made them their own. The visuals and sense of place that London will take players on a wild journey filled with horror and vampire shenanigans. Even the ideas that don't necessarily work perfectly are at the very least interesting or have the potential to be used more effectively in the future. A few kinks in the machine show a number of narrative and mechanical hiccups that occasionally cause player momentum to screech to a halt, but those setbacks are always temporary. For those who persevere, a rewarding experience offers something you can't find anywhere else. Vampyr is ambitious, flawed, and I loved it. Dontnod, a sequel would be excellent. Vampyr is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  2. Jack Gardner

    Review: Vampyr

    Dontnod has made a name for itself over the last several years as a publisher willing to try new things and take risks. Mixed reactions to their debut effort Remember Me grew into acclaim for Life Is Strange. Three years have passed since Life Is Strange captivated players; Dontnod used that time to not only craft a sequel, due out this year, but also something completely different. Unlike anything the developer has tackled before, Vampyr takes players into a dark and dirty vision of early 1900s London; a world of death, disease, and vampires. Doctor Jonathan Reid, a field medic returning from the battlefields of World War I, awakens in the corpse pits of a London under siege by the Spanish flu, a brutal virus that swept through the real world shortly after the turn of the century. Maddened by a profound hunger and the echoing words of an ethereal entity, Dr. Reid stumbles through the carnage, happening upon a woman looking through the dead. She knows him, embraces him, and in a fit of insanity, he digs his fangs deep into her neck. He drinks, she dies, and he is reborn - sane and in agony at the realization of his crime. This opening scene strives to capture the unsettling horror of Vampyr on a small scale, giving players a textual stake (har har) in the consequences of their actions. You see, Mary, the woman murdered in the opening minutes of Vampyr happens to be Mary Reid, Dr. Reid's sister. This death haunts Jonathan throughout the game in a way that can profoundly alter the course of events, depending on how players choose to develop the doctor as a character. Vampyr tempts players with blood at every opportunity. Completing quests rewards players with nice chunks of experience that can be used on a variety of vampyric and scientific abilities. However, players can take shortcuts to power by manipulating the citizens of London, mesmerizing and taking them to dark corners for a taste of their blood. This kills them, of course, but grants thousands of experience points, more than can be gained by completing quests. The system encourages players to take care of the people they meet, treating their illnesses with appropriate remedies and learning their secrets by interacting with the people in their social circle. The healthy blood of someone more intimately known provides quite a bit more experience than someone almost totally unknown who has been struck with the plague. As the primary vampire of Vampyr, players have to be careful how they exercise their newfound power. Some parts of London's communities are more necessary than others. The pillars of each community hold those around them together by their presence and tireless efforts. Killing those people could bring the entire district they live in crashing down under the weight of the epidemic. Not all parts of the community can claim to be aligned with those constructive forces, however. Some proudly declare themselves criminals while others hide dark secrets of murder and abuse. Of course, no matter who Jonathan chooses to feed upon, the community will react. It could leave it a better place, but that act of murder could also plunge everything into chaos, leaving openings for the plague to seep in among the bodies. Players who seek to walk a nobler path will be pleased to know that the life of bloodsucking innocents can be avoided almost entirely. However, those who opt out of this staple activity of vampirism will find themselves at a definite disadvantage, making do with fewer and less powerful blood and shadow based powers. The difficulty will definitely have some players looking longingly at the NPC they know to be a murderer, contemplating murder for their extra experience. The point of the difficult path is to tempt the righteous to fall, and the developers certainly play into that aspect of their game. Dontnod cleverly leaves the player with the ultimate decision to give Mary Reid's death meaning. Will Jonathan steer the hardest path and make his first steps as a newborn vampire without sacrificing others along the way? Will he pursue power at all costs, slaughtering as many people as London can bare? Or will he walk a middle path, turning himself into the judge, jury, and executioner of London's wickedest denizens? Those are interesting questions to explore over the course of Vampyr and answer for yourself. The system that enables this, the complex net of relationships and dependencies of each section of London that shift with each death, must have taken an incredible amount of effort to create, and stands out as one of Vampyr's best features. It's strange, then, that Vampyr does not choose to focus its narrative that core systemic conceit. Instead, the narrative revolves around a series of three acts to which the residents of London play background parts as pieces of set dressing and leveling opportunities - a decision which defangs the whole "needing to kill for the blood needed to survive" aspects of vampires. The first act revolves around Jonathan Reid coming to terms with his role in his sister's death and his new life as an Ekon, Vampyr's term for the beings we traditionally know as vampires. It is here that we are also introduced to the other varieties of vampires. Skals make up the majority of vampires, but are often people who failed to transform into full Ekons, often going mad in the process. They only need to eat flesh to live and don't require blood the way other vampires do. Vulkod are the brutes of the vampire kingdom, possessing superior speed and strength to other kinds, but often losing themselves to blood rages. Other kinds exist, too, but they are left to be mysterious around the edges of British vampire society. Before going on, we should note that the icing of yet another woman in the opening minutes of a video game for dramatic effect, a trope with a long tradition (I'm looking at you, Shadow of Mordor), is getting so old. It doesn't help that this is the game's cold open; as players, we have no investment in Jonathan or his sister within those few minutes, which robs even more drama out of this storytelling cliche. The cliche compounds in the closing minutes of the first act as it practically repeats itself. This is lazy writing, and it doesn't sit well in 2018. We can and should do better than going for cheap shock value and character motivation. The second act expands the world with more details about the various factions: The Guards of Priwen, the Ascalon Club, and the Brotherhood of St. Paul's Stole. The Guards of Priwen act as a human check on vampire activity during the epidemic, wandering the streets and killing any kind of mutated beast they come across. The Ascalon Club operates as an exclusive group of vampires who seek to control the wider world, a kind of shadow government based on blood purity. Finally, The Brotherhood of St. Paul seems to mostly be a group of holy researchers who are more pragmatic than the Guards of Priwen and prioritize the greater good over any vampire vendettas. This act is also when many of the pillars of each London community have to be addressed by the player, often in ways that could doom the communities if handled poorly - but perhaps that's what a less scrupulous Dr. Reid desires? The third and final act introduces a lot of esoteric lore that was barely hinted at throughout the preceding sections of Vampyr. The final twenty or thirty minutes of Vampyr possesses an energy lacking in the earlier segments of the game as secret after secret comes tumbling out and the narrative pieces all begin coming together. To say much about these closing minutes would spoil quite a bit, but suffice it to say that a Vampyr 2 would be incredibly welcome as Dontnod veers far afield of what might be considered the classical vampire stylings they had adopted up until that point. Overall, the narrative takes an understandable detour around its core system based around vampyric feeding and winds up with a tale composed of many interesting parts when taken on their own, but without much of a through line keeping it all connected. Mary's death recedes into the background after the end of the first act, replaced by a lot of factional drama that doesn't ultimately get resolved or have many consequences in act two. The third act concludes the plague plot and possesses the strongest focus of the three parts, but doesn't have much to do with the themes of previous sections. The feeding mechanic further muddles the themes of the game. Doctor Jonathan Reid makes a distinction between killing average citizens and those those who oppose him. For example, when it comes to one of the in-game factions called the Guards of Priwen the good doctor seems to have carte blanche to drink their blood and kill without mercy. This leads to moments throughout the game where Dr. Reid claims to have not killed anyone, provided the player has not fed on one of the civilians of London, despite the massive trail of bodies left behind him as he tore through the Priwenites in the streets of the city. This isn't an active impediment to enjoying Vampyr, but it represents a larger problem of mixed messaging that erodes Vampyr's story structure. The combat mechanics also present a fun, flawed opportunity that needed refinement. There are a handful of abilities to choose from, each of which can be upgraded, eventually into diverging paths. These include defensive moves, like creating a shield of blood, attacks, like creating a large area of exploding darkness beneath enemies, utility maneuvers, like invisibility or leaping into enemies, and your garden variety carry more of bullets or serums and increase health/stamina/blood. More variety would have been welcome, as after initially deciding which skills to take the system encourages you to stick with those until the end. There's not much room for experimentation or really a need for much as almost any offensive skill will carry you through to the end of the game. On its own, the combat serves its purpose. When everything is going well, it feels serviceable. Dashing out of combat range to set shadowy traps, whirling through enemies with one of the small variety of interchangeable weapons, powering up an ultimate maneuver, it all can be exciting. That is, at least, provided technical issues or strange design decisions don't get in the way. Some of the enemies have variable attack ranges, will sometimes land a hit without actually hitting anything, and many powers don't feel all that effective. Enemies are often made more difficult by giving them more health and damage rather than interesting mechanics to play around and counter with your own growing arsenal of vampy powers. One of the most consistently irritating aspects of Vampyr's combat is that if you die in battle, you return to a section just outside the area where you died. That's fine, but any consumables you used in the fight disappear. Struggling through a boss fight only to die at the last minute? Well, good luck trying it again with out any healing items, stamina boosts, or additional blood transfusions. Alternatively, have fun trudging back through the areas you just battled through to make more of those items because you have to craft them all yourself at specific crafting stations and can't store more than you can hold in your inventory at any one time. That means that if you can only hold two serums for use in battle, you can only craft and hold two serums of each type at any given time. The other issue that plagues Vampyr boils down to mobility. As a vampire, Jonathan Reid can shadow dash and teleport himself to higher vantage points. This seems like it would be a particular useful ability to escape combat situations or navigate the world. Unfortunately, once Dr. Reid enters combat, he loses the ability to travel vertically to escape his assailants. The game simply won't allow that to happen until everyone in the area has perished. This becomes irritating when you realize that often these optional fights simply take up time and resources without giving much in return. The flipside of this issue rears its head when it comes to world traversal. Mobility stands out as one of the defining aspects of vampires both in the myths and legends of our world and in the game itself. Characters routinely disappear out windows or appear seemingly out of nowhere. Our protagonist doctor doesn't seem capable of this outside of very specific circumstances. This attaches Jonathan firmly to the ground, no doubt as a means of gating player progress from more dangerous areas in the opening portions of Vampyr. In the absence of a fast travel system, players constantly find themselves backtracking across districts and areas that had previously been cleared, but enemies constantly respawn. It becomes one of the most tedious aspects of Vampyr and probably a large reason why the middle act seems to sag and lose so much momentum. Running freely along the rooftops of London or flying through the air as a cloud of shadow bats could have gone a long way toward easing this frustration, even if it only became accessible later on. Instead, we are left with a system that grants freedom of movement, but only on its own constrictive terms. It would be a grave oversight to not talk a bit about the visuals of Vampyr. London has never looked so dingy, squalid, and vaguely post-apocalyptic (in video games, obviously) than in Dontnod's bloodsucking adventure. Drainage water sits tepid in the streets, reflecting the shining moonlight from between damp cobblestones. Candle light filters through boarded windows. Each NPC has a distinctive face, model, and animations that sets them apart from everyone else (if you don't count the enemies that you meet in combat). Everything looks grim, dirty, and that can all come together to resemble the locations sought out by urban explorers for their decaying beauty. The effort that went into making London an interesting locale shows; despite all the backtracking, it doesn't wear out its welcome. The voice acting does quite a bit of work to sell the various characters. Notably, Anthony Howell turns in an incredible performance as Dr. Jonathan Reid. You can feel the sorrow and pain in his voice, a character who has seen and done horrible things on the battlefields of Europe and now must contend with the twisted homeland to which he has returned. Dr. Edgar Swansea, an eccentric doctor who treats with vampires and mortals alike, helps to expand and explain the world with the aid of Harry Hadden-Paton's performance. People might recognize Hadden-Paton as the voice actor behind the male Inquisitor's voice in Dragon Age: Inquisition or his role in Downton Abbey as Bertie Pelham. Katherine Kingsley manages to create a compelling and mysterious character with her role as Lady Ashbury, a centuries old vampiress whose every line drips with the weight of history. It is a difficult role and Kingsley plays it perfectly. In the hands of these capable professionals, what could have been a campy story about vampires turns into a tale filled with genuine drama and memorable exchanges. Conclusion: Dontnod deserves to be applauded for taking risks in a time during which many developers opt for the sure thing time after time. The world and characters they have created in Vampyr could easily be continued in future games, something I very much hope that they do. They took concepts that many might have thought done to undeath and made them their own. The visuals and sense of place that London will take players on a wild journey filled with horror and vampire shenanigans. Even the ideas that don't necessarily work perfectly are at the very least interesting or have the potential to be used more effectively in the future. A few kinks in the machine show a number of narrative and mechanical hiccups that occasionally cause player momentum to screech to a halt, but those setbacks are always temporary. For those who persevere, a rewarding experience offers something you can't find anywhere else. Vampyr is ambitious, flawed, and I loved it. Dontnod, a sequel would be excellent. Vampyr is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  3. Dontnod, the developers of Vampyr and Life Is Strange, released The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit for free just a few days ago. The narrative adventure follows Chris, a young boy who lives with his dad, throughout an afternoon of his life. It has a lot of heart, occasionally channeling the spirit of Calvin & Hobbes, and also quite a bit of darkness. It walks a thin line between the joyful attitudes of youth and the stark realities of adulthood, with all of the trauma and pain that entails. Sit down, kick back, and listen as we parse out the details of this interesting lead up to Life Is Strange 2. A correction: At the end of the episode, there's some mention of this free piece of content being the first episode of Life Is Strange 2 - that is not the case. It's a free prequel to the events of the five episodes that comprise the full game. The first episode of Life Is Strange 2 will release on September 27. Outro music: Kirby's Epic Yarn 'Blue Lava, Grass Landing' by The Hit Points (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03754) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  4. Dontnod, the developers of Vampyr and Life Is Strange, released The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit for free just a few days ago. The narrative adventure follows Chris, a young boy who lives with his dad, throughout an afternoon of his life. It has a lot of heart, occasionally channeling the spirit of Calvin & Hobbes, and also quite a bit of darkness. It walks a thin line between the joyful attitudes of youth and the stark realities of adulthood, with all of the trauma and pain that entails. Sit down, kick back, and listen as we parse out the details of this interesting lead up to Life Is Strange 2. A correction: At the end of the episode, there's some mention of this free piece of content being the first episode of Life Is Strange 2 - that is not the case. It's a free prequel to the events of the five episodes that comprise the full game. The first episode of Life Is Strange 2 will release on September 27. Outro music: Kirby's Epic Yarn 'Blue Lava, Grass Landing' by The Hit Points (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03754) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  5. The last time Square Enix held an E3 press conference was in 2015. When it was announced they'd be returning after a three-year absence, fans got excited... Perhaps unreasonably so. After all, the much-anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake was recently announced to be essentially rebooting its development cycle, so it was arguably unfair to expect that game to appear. Similarly, it proved to be way too early for a look at the upcoming Crystal Dynamics-developed Avengers title. Regardless, many were taken aback by the surprisingly short run time (only half an hour) of Square Enix's Nintendo Direct-style video presentation. Despite this, there were still some great nuggets of information and surprise announcements tucked away in the brief press briefing. Shadow of the Tomb Raider It's always tough to nail the ending of a trilogy, but we have faith that Crystal Dynamics can provide a satisfying conclusion to the origin story of Lara Croft, at least in terms of visuals and gameplay. While the story of the re-rebooted Tomb Raider games has proven divisive among lifelong fans of the franchise, few can complain about the winning mix of platforming, puzzle-solving, and engaging, cinematic combat offered by the new titles. And, of course, Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy) is perfect as this version of Lara. In addition to the return of Jonah from the previous two games in the form of some cutscene footage, the main hook of the Shadow of the Tomb Raider presentation was an extended gameplay demonstration which showed off the breathtaking graphics and enhanced stealth gameplay of the title. A closing sizzle reel featured all the high-adrenaline moments fans expect, including surprises like Lara battling a moray eel, swimming freely in underwater 3D environments, and – naturally – exploring tombs filled with ancient relics and priceless treasures. Octopath Traveler Square Enix's gorgeous Switch exclusive, Octopath Traveler, is nearing release. Described as an HD-2D game, Octopath Traveler combines the sprite-based work of SNES classics like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI and combines it with more realistically-styled backgrounds and distinctly modern post-processing and lighting effects. The final result is nothing less than striking, and it's easily one of the most distinct-looking games in recent memory. Hopefully it plays as well as it looks and offers deep RPG mechanics for all eight of its protagonists. We'll find out for sure when the title releases on July 13. Final Fantasy XIV It's been nearly five years since the disastrous launch of Final Fantasy XIV was completely rectified with the game-changing release of A Realm Reborn. To this day, FFXIV is celebrated as a veritable phoenix which rose from the ashes of its own hubris as one of the hottest, most addictive MMORPGs on the market, and Square Enix is continuing to support the profitable powerhouse with a continuous outpour of new content for Eorzean explorers to devour. They showed off two significant additions, the first of which is Patch 4.3, "Under the Moonlight," which offers a ton of new quests, a new raid, and assorted quality of life improvements. All in all, it's a pretty standard update, if still satisfying for ravenous XIV fans. The other new event is far more provocative: a crossover with Monster Hunter World. Level 70 players who have completed the Stormblood quest will be able to take on the task of hunting one of Monster Hunter's signature creatures, the fearsome Rathalos. Meanwhile, Monster Hunter World players will gain access to exclusive armor sets courtesy of a new hunt: Final Fantasy's signature recurring powerhouse summon, Bahamut. The crossover is expected to launch sometime this summer, but no dates have been announced yet. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit Dontnod have been keeping busy. Between the recently-launched Vampyr and their upcoming Life is Strange Season 2 and the mysterious Twin Mirror, they are juggling a great many high-profile projects. While Life is Strange 2 was a no-show at E3, they instead offered an adjacent spin-off, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, which expands the Life is Strange universe. The new game stars Chris, a young boy with a vivid imagination, being raised by a single, widower father in Oregon. The trailer promises Life is Strange's signature mix of youthful whimsy and intimate characterization, though with perhaps a more childlike sense of wonder thanks to its ten-year-old protagonist. The biggest surprise about Captain Spirit is that it will be completely free when it launches on June 26. Dragon Quest XI Japanese players have had their hands on Dragon Quest XI since last Summer, but the epic RPG adventure is finally jumping shores and gearing up to debut in the West. While the game initially released on both Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4, it seems only the PS4 version is making the leap to American and European shores, in addition to a PC port. Nevertheless, the localization of DQXI is a huge win for JRPG fans. Worldwide, Dragon Quest is second only to Final Fantasy in terms of role-playing prestige, and the game has already sold over three million copies in Japan alone. Hopefully, the Western release, due out September 4, will be the breakthrough hit the series has long been seeking. Nier: Automata and Yakuza 0 proved to be surprise hits in the United States, so why shouldn't Dragon Quest XI follow in their illustrious footsteps? Oh, and by the way, the Nier sequel is making the jump to Xbox One X in the form of the "Become as Gods Edition," which includes the DLC and offers 4K enhancements. Babylon's Fall Platinum Games are always working on something new and different, and their latest project, Babylon's Fall, looks to be right in their wheelhouse... And by that, we mean it looks bonkers, full of dense lore, and impossibly kinetic action. Unfortunately, the trailer was purely CG and didn't appear to show anything from the actual game engine, so actual gameplay details are still unknown, but it's Platinum Games, so anything less than insane, over-the-top action spectacle would be way out of character for them. Still, the brief clip's focus on a historical timeline of lore suggests to us that Platinum are aiming to compete with the likes of Game of Thrones with their next game, which is due out on PS4 and Steam in 2019. Kingdom Hearts III The appearance of Kingdom Hearts III was hardly surprising during Square's press conference. However, its presence would have been more exciting if they hadn't announced the release date earlier in the week, and also released a nearly-identical trailer at the Microsoft Xbox press conference the day before. Basically, the Square Enix trailer was a rehash of the Xbox trailer, but with a couple of extra shots here and there, including the reveal of Remy from Pixar's Ratatouille, presumably as a summon character. Just Cause 4 There are few things more rewarding than causing ungodly levels or mayhem and destruction in a Just Cause game. Rico Rodriguez is back for Just Cause 4, which aims to be the most over-the-top entry yet. Boasting a new graphics engine and the most diverse setting yet seen in the acclaimed series, JC4 is aiming, like its predecessors, to be the open-world action game by which all others are judged. Our first reactions to the JC4 trailer can be found here. The Quiet Man Not much is known about The Quiet Man, other than the player character is more gorgeous than Cloud Strife and Squall Leonheart combined, and he has some sick hand-to-hand combat skills. The trailer incorporated live-action footage in addition to brief snippets of gameplay, but it's unclear if the New York City-based title will embrace a new-age FMV style, or if that was just a specially-shot sequence for the trailer. Square Enix, devilish teases as they are, promise more info is coming in August. -- Overall, Square Enix's show was short, but sweet. They brought some cool surprises like Captain Spirit and the Final Fantasy XIV/Monster Hunter World crossover, as well as fleshed-out looks at big-budget action/adventure titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 4. Like any good presser, they also teased us with brief, provocative glimpses at unknown titles like The Quiet Man and Babylon's Fall. And, of course, there's a significant group of people who are beyond thrilled now that Dragon Quest XI has a Western release date... And we don't need to explain that any look at Kingdom Hearts III automatically puts this squarely in the "win" column. How do you think Square Enix did with its E3 2018 showing? Let us know in the comments! You can watch the full press conference for yourself below. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  6. The last time Square Enix held an E3 press conference was in 2015. When it was announced they'd be returning after a three-year absence, fans got excited... Perhaps unreasonably so. After all, the much-anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake was recently announced to be essentially rebooting its development cycle, so it was arguably unfair to expect that game to appear. Similarly, it proved to be way too early for a look at the upcoming Crystal Dynamics-developed Avengers title. Regardless, many were taken aback by the surprisingly short run time (only half an hour) of Square Enix's Nintendo Direct-style video presentation. Despite this, there were still some great nuggets of information and surprise announcements tucked away in the brief press briefing. Shadow of the Tomb Raider It's always tough to nail the ending of a trilogy, but we have faith that Crystal Dynamics can provide a satisfying conclusion to the origin story of Lara Croft, at least in terms of visuals and gameplay. While the story of the re-rebooted Tomb Raider games has proven divisive among lifelong fans of the franchise, few can complain about the winning mix of platforming, puzzle-solving, and engaging, cinematic combat offered by the new titles. And, of course, Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy) is perfect as this version of Lara. In addition to the return of Jonah from the previous two games in the form of some cutscene footage, the main hook of the Shadow of the Tomb Raider presentation was an extended gameplay demonstration which showed off the breathtaking graphics and enhanced stealth gameplay of the title. A closing sizzle reel featured all the high-adrenaline moments fans expect, including surprises like Lara battling a moray eel, swimming freely in underwater 3D environments, and – naturally – exploring tombs filled with ancient relics and priceless treasures. Octopath Traveler Square Enix's gorgeous Switch exclusive, Octopath Traveler, is nearing release. Described as an HD-2D game, Octopath Traveler combines the sprite-based work of SNES classics like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI and combines it with more realistically-styled backgrounds and distinctly modern post-processing and lighting effects. The final result is nothing less than striking, and it's easily one of the most distinct-looking games in recent memory. Hopefully it plays as well as it looks and offers deep RPG mechanics for all eight of its protagonists. We'll find out for sure when the title releases on July 13. Final Fantasy XIV It's been nearly five years since the disastrous launch of Final Fantasy XIV was completely rectified with the game-changing release of A Realm Reborn. To this day, FFXIV is celebrated as a veritable phoenix which rose from the ashes of its own hubris as one of the hottest, most addictive MMORPGs on the market, and Square Enix is continuing to support the profitable powerhouse with a continuous outpour of new content for Eorzean explorers to devour. They showed off two significant additions, the first of which is Patch 4.3, "Under the Moonlight," which offers a ton of new quests, a new raid, and assorted quality of life improvements. All in all, it's a pretty standard update, if still satisfying for ravenous XIV fans. The other new event is far more provocative: a crossover with Monster Hunter World. Level 70 players who have completed the Stormblood quest will be able to take on the task of hunting one of Monster Hunter's signature creatures, the fearsome Rathalos. Meanwhile, Monster Hunter World players will gain access to exclusive armor sets courtesy of a new hunt: Final Fantasy's signature recurring powerhouse summon, Bahamut. The crossover is expected to launch sometime this summer, but no dates have been announced yet. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit Dontnod have been keeping busy. Between the recently-launched Vampyr and their upcoming Life is Strange Season 2 and the mysterious Twin Mirror, they are juggling a great many high-profile projects. While Life is Strange 2 was a no-show at E3, they instead offered an adjacent spin-off, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, which expands the Life is Strange universe. The new game stars Chris, a young boy with a vivid imagination, being raised by a single, widower father in Oregon. The trailer promises Life is Strange's signature mix of youthful whimsy and intimate characterization, though with perhaps a more childlike sense of wonder thanks to its ten-year-old protagonist. The biggest surprise about Captain Spirit is that it will be completely free when it launches on June 26. Dragon Quest XI Japanese players have had their hands on Dragon Quest XI since last Summer, but the epic RPG adventure is finally jumping shores and gearing up to debut in the West. While the game initially released on both Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4, it seems only the PS4 version is making the leap to American and European shores, in addition to a PC port. Nevertheless, the localization of DQXI is a huge win for JRPG fans. Worldwide, Dragon Quest is second only to Final Fantasy in terms of role-playing prestige, and the game has already sold over three million copies in Japan alone. Hopefully, the Western release, due out September 4, will be the breakthrough hit the series has long been seeking. Nier: Automata and Yakuza 0 proved to be surprise hits in the United States, so why shouldn't Dragon Quest XI follow in their illustrious footsteps? Oh, and by the way, the Nier sequel is making the jump to Xbox One X in the form of the "Become as Gods Edition," which includes the DLC and offers 4K enhancements. Babylon's Fall Platinum Games are always working on something new and different, and their latest project, Babylon's Fall, looks to be right in their wheelhouse... And by that, we mean it looks bonkers, full of dense lore, and impossibly kinetic action. Unfortunately, the trailer was purely CG and didn't appear to show anything from the actual game engine, so actual gameplay details are still unknown, but it's Platinum Games, so anything less than insane, over-the-top action spectacle would be way out of character for them. Still, the brief clip's focus on a historical timeline of lore suggests to us that Platinum are aiming to compete with the likes of Game of Thrones with their next game, which is due out on PS4 and Steam in 2019. Kingdom Hearts III The appearance of Kingdom Hearts III was hardly surprising during Square's press conference. However, its presence would have been more exciting if they hadn't announced the release date earlier in the week, and also released a nearly-identical trailer at the Microsoft Xbox press conference the day before. Basically, the Square Enix trailer was a rehash of the Xbox trailer, but with a couple of extra shots here and there, including the reveal of Remy from Pixar's Ratatouille, presumably as a summon character. Just Cause 4 There are few things more rewarding than causing ungodly levels or mayhem and destruction in a Just Cause game. Rico Rodriguez is back for Just Cause 4, which aims to be the most over-the-top entry yet. Boasting a new graphics engine and the most diverse setting yet seen in the acclaimed series, JC4 is aiming, like its predecessors, to be the open-world action game by which all others are judged. Our first reactions to the JC4 trailer can be found here. The Quiet Man Not much is known about The Quiet Man, other than the player character is more gorgeous than Cloud Strife and Squall Leonheart combined, and he has some sick hand-to-hand combat skills. The trailer incorporated live-action footage in addition to brief snippets of gameplay, but it's unclear if the New York City-based title will embrace a new-age FMV style, or if that was just a specially-shot sequence for the trailer. Square Enix, devilish teases as they are, promise more info is coming in August. -- Overall, Square Enix's show was short, but sweet. They brought some cool surprises like Captain Spirit and the Final Fantasy XIV/Monster Hunter World crossover, as well as fleshed-out looks at big-budget action/adventure titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 4. Like any good presser, they also teased us with brief, provocative glimpses at unknown titles like The Quiet Man and Babylon's Fall. And, of course, there's a significant group of people who are beyond thrilled now that Dragon Quest XI has a Western release date... And we don't need to explain that any look at Kingdom Hearts III automatically puts this squarely in the "win" column. How do you think Square Enix did with its E3 2018 showing? Let us know in the comments! You can watch the full press conference for yourself below. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  7. It has been long requested and finally done: The Life Is Strange episode is here! Naomi and Jack dive into all things Life Is Strange, from the theories to the story and how meaningful it can be, warts and all. Dontnod, the creators of Remember Me and the recently released Vampyr, really did well with their sophomore effort - did they do well enough to make a game that transcends greatness to be considered one of the best games of all-time? Play it, listen to the show, and judge for yourself. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Undertale 'Glitterbomb' by LongBoxofChocolate and Philippe Delage (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03734) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  8. It has been long requested and finally done: The Life Is Strange episode is here! Naomi and Jack dive into all things Life Is Strange, from the theories to the story and how meaningful it can be, warts and all. Dontnod, the creators of Remember Me and the recently released Vampyr, really did well with their sophomore effort - did they do well enough to make a game that transcends greatness to be considered one of the best games of all-time? Play it, listen to the show, and judge for yourself. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Undertale 'Glitterbomb' by LongBoxofChocolate and Philippe Delage (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03734) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  9. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is Dontnod's heartwarming new story set in the Life is Strange universe. Instead of focusing on teenage drama, the game centers on a child with an imagination vivid enough to, seemingly, come to life. Though it occupies the same world as Max and Chloe's, Captain Spirit is a standalone story. A lonely boy named Chris lives as an only-child to a father who neglects him. In order to entertain himself, he turns to the world of make-believe. However, his fantasies seem to manifest beyond his thoughts, suggesting Chris may have posses supernatural abilities–a trademark element of Life is Strange. Dontnod states that the game acts a precursor to Life is Strange 2, a project that still has not been formally unveiled. Also, Captain Spirit appears to be a one-off installment as opposed to being a season of episodes. You won't have to wait long to play along with Chris. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit launches June 26 and will be completely free to download. The game is slated to release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. View full article
  10. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is Dontnod's heartwarming new story set in the Life is Strange universe. Instead of focusing on teenage drama, the game centers on a child with an imagination vivid enough to, seemingly, come to life. Though it occupies the same world as Max and Chloe's, Captain Spirit is a standalone story. A lonely boy named Chris lives as an only-child to a father who neglects him. In order to entertain himself, he turns to the world of make-believe. However, his fantasies seem to manifest beyond his thoughts, suggesting Chris may have posses supernatural abilities–a trademark element of Life is Strange. Dontnod states that the game acts a precursor to Life is Strange 2, a project that still has not been formally unveiled. Also, Captain Spirit appears to be a one-off installment as opposed to being a season of episodes. You won't have to wait long to play along with Chris. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit launches June 26 and will be completely free to download. The game is slated to release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
  11. What if I told you that the developers who reintroduced “hella” back into modern lexicon were tackling a 20th century vampire action epic for their next game? You’d be forgiven for refusing to believe me, but it’s true! Dontnod, the same team behind the 2015 hit narrative adventure Life Is Strange, are taking to the streets of 1918’s vampire-infested London, complete with all the stabbing and bloodsucking that entails. Dontnod gave a media-exclusive hands-off demo of Vampyr at E3 this year, demonstrating their progress since last year's already impressive E3 showing. The demo showcased how expansive their incarnation of London is and how its citizens will play a vital role in determining your fate as well as the city’s. You play as Jonathan Reid, a brooding doctor who quite literally moonlights as a recently-turned vampire. London is currently under siege from all ends, including a deadly flu virus and ravenous undead humans called the “Skal". Reid must work to find solutions to end both threats. Fixated on him, however, are an order of cutthroat vampire hunters nipping at his every step. Our E3 demo began with Reid confronting his superior at his place of work, a London hospital. Reid is attempting to determine what caused a number of grisly deaths, only to stumble upon another vampire speaking with his boss. Reid’s boss is quick to remind them both that the hospital is sacred ground among London’s vampire clans, suggesting the game’s dialogue and action choices will carry consequences far and wide. While searching for clues in the streets and alleys, Reid finds himself chatting with a suspiciously hostile man by the docks. It’s here that Dontnod shows off how his vampiric needs will twist each of London’s several districts and the people who reside there. The man is unwilling to cooperate with Reid’s investigation unless he can help him find his mother’s missing ring. It seems that she’s the only person this miserable grump loves, so in the interest of digging up clues, Reid searches the nearby dock. Unfortunately, the misplaced ring isn’t the only thing we find underneath a tunnel entrance. There’s also a nice pile of dead bodies. Turns out our reluctant informant is a serial killer, and after meeting mother dearest, it’s clear the poor old lady has made peace with her son’s vicious ways by covering up for him. Since you’re a vampire, you’ll need to feed off of at least a few of London’s residents to grow in power so you can defend yourself from the hunters. While the obvious choice might be to take out our murdering friend, it’s actually his mother’s blood that’s much higher in quality, and thus grants more experience points to channel into abilities. Dontnod makes the call to end the woman’s existence and reap the rewards. After assimilating her blood by sleeping the day away, we get a chance to see the results of our handiwork, and it isn’t pretty. Mr. serial killer’s home is trashed, with the man in question brooding in the bedroom about all the revenge he’s going to exact on the city. Dontnod informs us that other effects of our actions will include different market prices for items, more undead in the underground and dark corners of the city, increased crime, and a higher murder rate for NPCs. Dontnod also took some time to show off combat, and how you’ll mix traditional fisticuffs and bladework with vampiric bloodsucking. On a more surface level, it mirror’s Batman: Arkham’s third-person punching and dodging, with a bit of teleportation ala Dishonored’s blink ability. Enemies have health bars above their heads, so you’ll know exactly how close they are to death, but if you’re feeling a little aggressive, you can also magically sap blood straight from their skin to recharge your abilities and health. It’s inventive enough, especially once your blood bar is filled to allow some gory finishing moves. Reid eventually performed a finisher that teleported his form into the body of an enemy, tearing him apart from the inside before teleporting back to watch the ensuing explosion. I just hope it doesn’t feel like a weightless mash-a-thon in the final product. Part of Batman’s thrill was feeling every bone crunch. It only makes sense that actual bloodsuckers have as much force behind their punches, too. Vampyr won’t be the first action game Dontnod tackles (2013’s Remember Me saw to that), but their proclivity for taking risks, along with excellent characters and world-building give the game a solid foundation to move forward on. It remains to be seen if the experience will translate to a full open world with side quests and other minutia to tackle, but this will definitely be one shadow to watch over your shoulder for in the future. Vampyr is available this November for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
  12. What if I told you that the developers who reintroduced “hella” back into modern lexicon were tackling a 20th century vampire action epic for their next game? You’d be forgiven for refusing to believe me, but it’s true! Dontnod, the same team behind the 2015 hit narrative adventure Life Is Strange, are taking to the streets of 1918’s vampire-infested London, complete with all the stabbing and bloodsucking that entails. Dontnod gave a media-exclusive hands-off demo of Vampyr at E3 this year, demonstrating their progress since last year's already impressive E3 showing. The demo showcased how expansive their incarnation of London is and how its citizens will play a vital role in determining your fate as well as the city’s. You play as Jonathan Reid, a brooding doctor who quite literally moonlights as a recently-turned vampire. London is currently under siege from all ends, including a deadly flu virus and ravenous undead humans called the “Skal". Reid must work to find solutions to end both threats. Fixated on him, however, are an order of cutthroat vampire hunters nipping at his every step. Our E3 demo began with Reid confronting his superior at his place of work, a London hospital. Reid is attempting to determine what caused a number of grisly deaths, only to stumble upon another vampire speaking with his boss. Reid’s boss is quick to remind them both that the hospital is sacred ground among London’s vampire clans, suggesting the game’s dialogue and action choices will carry consequences far and wide. While searching for clues in the streets and alleys, Reid finds himself chatting with a suspiciously hostile man by the docks. It’s here that Dontnod shows off how his vampiric needs will twist each of London’s several districts and the people who reside there. The man is unwilling to cooperate with Reid’s investigation unless he can help him find his mother’s missing ring. It seems that she’s the only person this miserable grump loves, so in the interest of digging up clues, Reid searches the nearby dock. Unfortunately, the misplaced ring isn’t the only thing we find underneath a tunnel entrance. There’s also a nice pile of dead bodies. Turns out our reluctant informant is a serial killer, and after meeting mother dearest, it’s clear the poor old lady has made peace with her son’s vicious ways by covering up for him. Since you’re a vampire, you’ll need to feed off of at least a few of London’s residents to grow in power so you can defend yourself from the hunters. While the obvious choice might be to take out our murdering friend, it’s actually his mother’s blood that’s much higher in quality, and thus grants more experience points to channel into abilities. Dontnod makes the call to end the woman’s existence and reap the rewards. After assimilating her blood by sleeping the day away, we get a chance to see the results of our handiwork, and it isn’t pretty. Mr. serial killer’s home is trashed, with the man in question brooding in the bedroom about all the revenge he’s going to exact on the city. Dontnod informs us that other effects of our actions will include different market prices for items, more undead in the underground and dark corners of the city, increased crime, and a higher murder rate for NPCs. Dontnod also took some time to show off combat, and how you’ll mix traditional fisticuffs and bladework with vampiric bloodsucking. On a more surface level, it mirror’s Batman: Arkham’s third-person punching and dodging, with a bit of teleportation ala Dishonored’s blink ability. Enemies have health bars above their heads, so you’ll know exactly how close they are to death, but if you’re feeling a little aggressive, you can also magically sap blood straight from their skin to recharge your abilities and health. It’s inventive enough, especially once your blood bar is filled to allow some gory finishing moves. Reid eventually performed a finisher that teleported his form into the body of an enemy, tearing him apart from the inside before teleporting back to watch the ensuing explosion. I just hope it doesn’t feel like a weightless mash-a-thon in the final product. Part of Batman’s thrill was feeling every bone crunch. It only makes sense that actual bloodsuckers have as much force behind their punches, too. Vampyr won’t be the first action game Dontnod tackles (2013’s Remember Me saw to that), but their proclivity for taking risks, along with excellent characters and world-building give the game a solid foundation to move forward on. It remains to be seen if the experience will translate to a full open world with side quests and other minutia to tackle, but this will definitely be one shadow to watch over your shoulder for in the future. Vampyr is available this November for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. View full article
  13. From Dontnod, the studio behind Remember Me and Life Is Strange, comes Vampyr, an action-RPG set in the London of 1918. As Jonathan E. Reid, a dedicated physician who suffers from the vampiric affliction, players must grapple or give in to their newfound bloodthirst while both searching for a cure to his disease and the ongoing Spanish flu epidemic. I was able to sit down and see a live demonstration of Vampyr in action. One of the key elements of Vampyr is Reid’s internal conflict of being a doctor sworn to do no harm and the need to feed on living people in order to survive. It is technically possible to complete Vampyr without killing anyone. However, players choosing to go that route won’t have an easy time of it. Cleverly, Dontnod has linked the conflict between peace and feast with character progression. Every life the player feeds on as a vampire heals them, imparts the victim’s final thoughts, and provides experience used to level up the player’s vampiric powers. Dontnod summed this up nicely during their presentation saying, “The more you kill the stronger you are. The question is how far are you willing to go?” As players make their way through the world Dontnod crafted in 1918 London, they will encounter human and otherworldly threats. Vampire hunters, humans who have dedicated themselves over the centuries to the eradication of vampires, are a common sight on the dim streets of London. They know how to spot and fight bloodsuckers and can prove to be a real threat to an unprepared or unsubtle vampire. Also shown in the demo were what Dontnod called “skulls.” These creatures are mutant, half vampire, completely unhinged, and somehow related to the Spanish flu outbreak. Both of these enemy groups require either stealth or combat skills. “The combat system is intended to be brutal and challenging, emphasized on timing and positioning,” the demonstrator stated while maneuvering through an encounter, “Our hero uses the mix of melee and with weapons he learned to use [in World War I].” As players wade into battle, using vampire powers will drain their energy and vitality, making it necessary to feed on enemies to keep their strength up. However, players will have to be careful they don’t put themselves in a vulnerable position when feeding in the middle of a fight as it leaves Dr. Reid vulnerable. However, unlike feasting civilians, feasting in combat doesn’t quite have the same experiential reward, “In terms of XP, citizen's blood will always be more valuable than fighting.” Improvised weapons can be crafted and wielded in addition to ranged weapons and vampire powers. Vampyr takes place in a, “semi-open world with interconnected paths, so you will explore different districts of London seamlessly.” Dontnod explained that players can explore these areas freely and implied that thorough exploration will be necessary to uncover all of the secrets London holds. The city is divided into different districts. As the game progresses, how players have treated the citizens in each district will become more relevant. Each district has its own health indicator based on the number of living, healthy people it holds. Feasting on too many people to boost your vampire powers can cause a district to collapse into chaos. The Spanish flu is also ripping through the population and deciding to use your skills as a doctor can prove very valuable to keeping districts healthy. As a vampire, players will be able to assess if someone is infected and how far along the disease has progressed. Do you help those at death’s door or do you suck their blood for your own benefit? Beyond that moral quandary, interacting with London’s residence seems to be one of the most interesting aspects of Vampyr that I’ve seen. Every NPC walking around London has their own backstory, goals, aspirations, and daily routines. As the game progresses and people start dying, it has an effect on the population. Routines will change, NPCs will leave, and goals will shift. The example shown was of a man named Joe. Joe extorts money from local businesses and has a son in Whitechapel. If the player decides that the extortion racket Joe is running makes him a target for bloodsucking, they can use the Mesmerize ability to place Joe under their control and bring him to a secluded area. After killing Joe, the local newspaper will soon discover his body and the behavior of the people connected to Joe will change. The shops he extorted will sell better items and make more money while the son he had will run away from Whitechapel in fear. “You also could have chosen to feed upon the son or even the merchant instead, and the consequences will be significantly different,” explained the demonstrator. “There are no good or bad choices, only morally ambiguous options; so you create your own experience and now you know how it feels to be a vampire.” As you interact with NPCs you can learn more about their lives and activities, gathering a collection of hints. These hints will eventually reveal dirt on most adults you come across in the game, making the decision to feed easier or harder depending on each player’s moral compass. An interesting wrinkle: While getting to know NPCs, you will need to obtain permission from every resident to cross the threshold of their home, a classic vampire rule. Players will have to make the proper conversational choices to gain entrance. Being a doctor, Jonathan Reid views his vampirism as a disease that can be cured. His main goal throughout Vampyr is to unlock its mysteries and ultimately find a cure. However, his pursuit of a cure might drive him mad with guilt or power before he can find a way to undo his infection. It has been a long time since we’ve had a vampire game that was worth playing. The heavy emphasis on the moral questions a vampire might face could be just the approach needed to catapult Vampyr to set a new standard for the subject matter in games. Vampyr releases sometime in 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article
  14. From Dontnod, the studio behind Remember Me and Life Is Strange, comes Vampyr, an action-RPG set in the London of 1918. As Jonathan E. Reid, a dedicated physician who suffers from the vampiric affliction, players must grapple or give in to their newfound bloodthirst while both searching for a cure to his disease and the ongoing Spanish flu epidemic. I was able to sit down and see a live demonstration of Vampyr in action. One of the key elements of Vampyr is Reid’s internal conflict of being a doctor sworn to do no harm and the need to feed on living people in order to survive. It is technically possible to complete Vampyr without killing anyone. However, players choosing to go that route won’t have an easy time of it. Cleverly, Dontnod has linked the conflict between peace and feast with character progression. Every life the player feeds on as a vampire heals them, imparts the victim’s final thoughts, and provides experience used to level up the player’s vampiric powers. Dontnod summed this up nicely during their presentation saying, “The more you kill the stronger you are. The question is how far are you willing to go?” As players make their way through the world Dontnod crafted in 1918 London, they will encounter human and otherworldly threats. Vampire hunters, humans who have dedicated themselves over the centuries to the eradication of vampires, are a common sight on the dim streets of London. They know how to spot and fight bloodsuckers and can prove to be a real threat to an unprepared or unsubtle vampire. Also shown in the demo were what Dontnod called “skulls.” These creatures are mutant, half vampire, completely unhinged, and somehow related to the Spanish flu outbreak. Both of these enemy groups require either stealth or combat skills. “The combat system is intended to be brutal and challenging, emphasized on timing and positioning,” the demonstrator stated while maneuvering through an encounter, “Our hero uses the mix of melee and with weapons he learned to use [in World War I].” As players wade into battle, using vampire powers will drain their energy and vitality, making it necessary to feed on enemies to keep their strength up. However, players will have to be careful they don’t put themselves in a vulnerable position when feeding in the middle of a fight as it leaves Dr. Reid vulnerable. However, unlike feasting civilians, feasting in combat doesn’t quite have the same experiential reward, “In terms of XP, citizen's blood will always be more valuable than fighting.” Improvised weapons can be crafted and wielded in addition to ranged weapons and vampire powers. Vampyr takes place in a, “semi-open world with interconnected paths, so you will explore different districts of London seamlessly.” Dontnod explained that players can explore these areas freely and implied that thorough exploration will be necessary to uncover all of the secrets London holds. The city is divided into different districts. As the game progresses, how players have treated the citizens in each district will become more relevant. Each district has its own health indicator based on the number of living, healthy people it holds. Feasting on too many people to boost your vampire powers can cause a district to collapse into chaos. The Spanish flu is also ripping through the population and deciding to use your skills as a doctor can prove very valuable to keeping districts healthy. As a vampire, players will be able to assess if someone is infected and how far along the disease has progressed. Do you help those at death’s door or do you suck their blood for your own benefit? Beyond that moral quandary, interacting with London’s residence seems to be one of the most interesting aspects of Vampyr that I’ve seen. Every NPC walking around London has their own backstory, goals, aspirations, and daily routines. As the game progresses and people start dying, it has an effect on the population. Routines will change, NPCs will leave, and goals will shift. The example shown was of a man named Joe. Joe extorts money from local businesses and has a son in Whitechapel. If the player decides that the extortion racket Joe is running makes him a target for bloodsucking, they can use the Mesmerize ability to place Joe under their control and bring him to a secluded area. After killing Joe, the local newspaper will soon discover his body and the behavior of the people connected to Joe will change. The shops he extorted will sell better items and make more money while the son he had will run away from Whitechapel in fear. “You also could have chosen to feed upon the son or even the merchant instead, and the consequences will be significantly different,” explained the demonstrator. “There are no good or bad choices, only morally ambiguous options; so you create your own experience and now you know how it feels to be a vampire.” As you interact with NPCs you can learn more about their lives and activities, gathering a collection of hints. These hints will eventually reveal dirt on most adults you come across in the game, making the decision to feed easier or harder depending on each player’s moral compass. An interesting wrinkle: While getting to know NPCs, you will need to obtain permission from every resident to cross the threshold of their home, a classic vampire rule. Players will have to make the proper conversational choices to gain entrance. Being a doctor, Jonathan Reid views his vampirism as a disease that can be cured. His main goal throughout Vampyr is to unlock its mysteries and ultimately find a cure. However, his pursuit of a cure might drive him mad with guilt or power before he can find a way to undo his infection. It has been a long time since we’ve had a vampire game that was worth playing. The heavy emphasis on the moral questions a vampire might face could be just the approach needed to catapult Vampyr to set a new standard for the subject matter in games. Vampyr releases sometime in 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
  15. cinerdella

    Preview: A Look Into Vampyr's Gameplay

    Taking a look at Vampyr's gameplay this afternoon, I realized that I should probably not be as fascinated with rat-infested, disease-ridden, nearly abandoned London as I am. This semi-open world leads players through dark alleys and streets while the rain pours, running down exposed shoulders. Vampire hunters are on the prowl, and your thirst gets stronger as the night grows longer. A dialogue wheel lets you control what you say to your fellow neighbors. Navigating the wheel, it quickly becomes apparent that begging for an invitation into their home is harder than it looks. Vampyr follows popular vampire lore established in classic novels like Dracula, which means that, as a vampire, players have the ability to mesmerize and lure your prey into less conspicuous areas. The more you kill, the more skills unlock in the expansive skill tree. The more people the protagonist feasts on, the more degraded the neighborhood becomes. However, the conditions of the player's neighborhood play a very important role in the quest to cure vampirism, so drinking at will is not advised. The vampire's fighting style allows you to jump between vampire powers and basic melee using medical saws as your weapon of choice. If your blood count drops too low, you won't be able to use your vampire skills. Using both at the same time proves to be a lethal choice, and adds quite an exciting element into the game that I have never seen before. Unable to actually get my hands on a controller, I am itching for the release date in 2017. I can't wait to decide whether or not I'll be a benevolent vampire or a merciless bloodsucker.
  16. Taking a look at Vampyr's gameplay this afternoon, I realized that I should probably not be as fascinated with rat-infested, disease-ridden, nearly abandoned London as I am. This semi-open world leads players through dark alleys and streets while the rain pours, running down exposed shoulders. Vampire hunters are on the prowl, and your thirst gets stronger as the night grows longer. A dialogue wheel lets you control what you say to your fellow neighbors. Navigating the wheel, it quickly becomes apparent that begging for an invitation into their home is harder than it looks. Vampyr follows popular vampire lore established in classic novels like Dracula, which means that, as a vampire, players have the ability to mesmerize and lure your prey into less conspicuous areas. The more you kill, the more skills unlock in the expansive skill tree. The more people the protagonist feasts on, the more degraded the neighborhood becomes. However, the conditions of the player's neighborhood play a very important role in the quest to cure vampirism, so drinking at will is not advised. The vampire's fighting style allows you to jump between vampire powers and basic melee using medical saws as your weapon of choice. If your blood count drops too low, you won't be able to use your vampire skills. Using both at the same time proves to be a lethal choice, and adds quite an exciting element into the game that I have never seen before. Unable to actually get my hands on a controller, I am itching for the release date in 2017. I can't wait to decide whether or not I'll be a benevolent vampire or a merciless bloodsucker. View full article
  17. From the studio that brought you Life is Strange and Remember Me comes an action-RPG set in 1900’s disease-crippled London. Vampyr follows the story of World War I veteran Doctor Jonathan Reid as he experiences the agony and deprivation that comes with being a vampire. But it’s not all prowling the streets and stalking prey, as Reid is determined to find a cure for this disease. Pick your victims wisely, because each choice you make creates a butterfly effect. Your actions, and subsequently meals, will trigger devastating consequences if you pick the wrong target. Build your combat tree to customize your vampire-fighting techniques and take on the ghostly streets of London. Vampyr is set to be released in 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
  18. From the studio that brought you Life is Strange and Remember Me comes an action-RPG set in 1900’s disease-crippled London. Vampyr follows the story of World War I veteran Doctor Jonathan Reid as he experiences the agony and deprivation that comes with being a vampire. But it’s not all prowling the streets and stalking prey, as Reid is determined to find a cure for this disease. Pick your victims wisely, because each choice you make creates a butterfly effect. Your actions, and subsequently meals, will trigger devastating consequences if you pick the wrong target. Build your combat tree to customize your vampire-fighting techniques and take on the ghostly streets of London. Vampyr is set to be released in 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. View full article
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