Vampyr, a AA narrative-driven RPG set in a gothic post-war London, has recently crossed the one million sales threshold. An ambitious, unique game which tasked players with weighing their options as they either consume their friends and quest givers to gain power or abstain and face the consequences, this comes as some great—albeit unexpected—news for both developer and publisher alike.
“We are delighted to continue the adventure with the team at DONTNOD who have already amply demonstrated their talents to create rich universes, enhanced by a masterful narrative and unique artistic direction,” Focus Home COO John Bert said of the team behind the financially successful endeavor. Focus Home Interactive, publishers of such out-of-left-field games as 2017’s souls-like The Surge, the stealth/action duology Styx, and the recent Call of Cthulhu, seem to have a penchant for riskier projects. Niche, diverse experiences like Vampyr typically aren’t picked up by larger publishers, and, in this instance, the venture paid out in spades.
With the AAA gaming industry constantly in hot water thanks to the ever-devolving financial scruples of publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision, indie games are becoming more prominent than ever. While many studios are eager to produce trend-chasing, desperately ‘me too’ experiences like Anthem or Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode, DONTNOD and Focus Home are busy forging a fruitful partnership and delivering quality (though admittedly slightly buggy) artistic ordeals.
Founded just over a decade ago, French developer DONTNOD is most famous for its endearing, emotional series of story-based games known as Life is Strange, though it did catch some flack for the middling Remember Me in 2013. The team is set to release two titles in 2019, those being the episodic, Bandai Namco-backed Twin Mirror and Lost on Arrival. Yet, despite its connection with the large publishing house, DONTNOD plans to continue its dealings with Focus Home, and there’s a chance that the next game published under the name will be a follow-up to Vampyr.
All in all, this should come as encouraging news to most gamers tired of the traditional big-budget dreck pushed out by major publishers every few months. Though it was fairly flawed at release, Vampyr sought to weave a creative, engrossing tale, and it at no point attempted to hawk a season pass or reach further into the wallets of its player base. While this wouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary ten years ago, it’s worthy of praise today, and publishers like Focus Home Interactive deserve praise for holding the core interests of gamers above those of investors or account holders.
While concrete release dates for DONTNOD’s succeeding efforts have yet to be announced, those who liked Vampyr may well enjoy Focus Home’s upcoming A Plague Tale: Innocence. Developed by Asobo Studio—a team which had a hand in 2016’s medium-blending Quantum Break—it promises to be a gripping, captivating experience which places the choices of players before any other element of gameplay. The setting may not be the same, but it’s bound to be another classic entry in Focus Home’s library.
Those who haven’t gotten a chance to play Vampyr can certainly still pick it up. It may not appeal to everyone, as the combat does feel like a bit of an afterthought when compared to the game’s rich lore and story, but it’s certainly worth experiencing, if only to get a handle on where DONTNOD may be heading in the future.