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Video Game / Vampyr

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Cursed be the choice.
"Twelve dreams for the red queen under crown of stone. Eight voracious beasts born from eight restless nights. Four nails piercing the flesh of the sinner. One prayer for the summoned called by this song."
Mysterious Entity, opening narration

Vampyr is an Action RPG developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Focus Home Interactive. It was originally slated to be available for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in late 2017, but was delayed until June 5th, 2018.

The year is 1918. Jonathan E. Reid is a brilliant doctor who served during the Great War and became familiar with a brand new blood transfusion technique that's saved many lives. When the game begins, he's just returned home to London from the front and wakes up after an attack by a mysterious assailant. This attack was the cause of his transformation into a vampire. It seems that his status as a specialist in human blood is of interest to the vampire society that hides in the shadows.

Jonathan's thirst for blood compels him to kill. To do this successfully, the player must gather information about his targets, study and change their habits, collect clues, and maintain certain relationships by communicating with the inhabitants of London. If one so chooses, anyone in the game could be a target, which will have consequences that affect the story. Feeding on human blood will unlock new vampiric powers in addition to providing nourishment. On the other hand, one can also choose to not to kill anyone, as they're under no obligation to do so in order to progress within the game. At the same time, Jonathan has his hands rather full in his professional life, as the Spanish Flu epidemic ravages Europe and his skills as a doctor are in high demand.


The game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Jonathan will have to navigate one, following Sean Hampton's lead only to find a village of wise and peace-loving Skals. Some late-game sidequests also involve delving into the sewers.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • Reid's trendy modern undercut is actually appropriate for someone coming off the front in 1918.
    • Charlotte Ashbury mentions that some folk are sarcastically talking about building a wall around the West End to corral the voices of the Suffrage Movement. She then says if they ever did that she would blow it up. This seems like a pithy quip meant to show that the Sufferage Movement won't be silenced, but in reality, the first wave of feminism (especially in Britain) did commit several acts of terrorism, such as breaking windows and firebombing mailboxes.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted with the Skals. Upon first impression, it seems all of them are ravenous and mindless monsters incapable of being reasoned with. But then it turns out that a whole Skal community lives under London and they are outcasts of the ‘proper’ vampire society and their leader Old Bridget becomes a valuable friend and ally to Jonathan. Sean Hampton can try to be a good Skal, but he will fail due to being infected by the Blood of Hate. When you get down to it, Skals are more victims of their condition than true monsters.
    • Played straight when you discover the Blood of Hate which is what happens when a Disaster – the Red Queen’s chosen – or a vampire tainted by a Disaster passes their blood on. The descendants of Harriet Jones, Doris Fletcher, and Lady Ashbury are all destined to become beasts.
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  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Ascalon Club is a society of extremely old, rich and powerful male Ekon as well as humans who are occasionally rewarded with vampirism. They might be aiming for the protection of the British Empire’s interests and they’re not evil, but they’re certainly self-centered and disdainful of anyone who doesn’t belong to their association.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Brotherhood of Saint Paul’s Stole and the Guard of Priwen are both these, though the Guard of Priwen is a darker take on it. They are organizations which study the supernatural and fight the supernatural respectively and they also used to be one organization before splitting up in 1801.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: The preorder DLC, Hunter's Heirlooms, includes an alternate outfit for Jonathan to change to in his office at Pembroke. Although all it does is switches his default grey overcoat for a black one with a detachable cape, adds black leather gloves and a black bowler hat.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The player can come across several documents like these. Right at the start of the game Jonathan takes refuge inside an abandoned house, he finds that the original owners are dead with a diary near their bed showing how things went from bad to worse. The wife became a Skal and the husband locked himself in a room to wait for her to starve to death, while he shot himself in the head. The wife’s body disappears later; presumably she had revived or was dragged off.
  • Appropriated Appellation: In a self-deprecating way, the Skals have adopted their label (which means "slave" in other languages) as if they accepted their status as lesser beings.
  • Artistic License – History: According to William Marshal, the Great Fire of London began in St. Paul's Cathedral first, and he had been the one to set it. According to historical accounts, the fire started in a bakery in Pudding Lane and did not spread to the Cathedral until two days afterwards. Said bakery is mentioned in the conversation as the hideout of the 1666 Disaster, however, so this is likely a literal case of Artistic License.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: There's an outright splash screen when you start the game that displays this disclaimer:
    Even if based on proven medical knowledge from 1918, Vampyr sometimes takes liberties when establishing possible links between scientific theories and supernatural creatures, for theatrical purposes. In other words, do not try to cure any disease with any of the recipes shown in this videogame… And no rats were harmed during the making of this game.
  • Artistic License – Religion: A minor case. The "Sad Saint" Sean Hampton was brought up in a Catholic orphanage, but all the icons that adorn his night shelter are painted in the Eastern Orthodox style.
  • Asshole Victim: Quite a few of the supporting cast are pretty flawed, but a few stand out:
    • The first person Jonathan is prompted by a mysterious voice to Embrace is Clay Cox, introduced to us while stabbing a man and then kicking him into the canal. If you choose not to kill him and later investigate him and his background, he turns out to be a murderer, a gang leader, pretty rude to boot, and the guy you saw him kill had his brother murdered by Cox. On top of all that, he's got zero social connections to anyone. Literally nobody will miss him; he has an estranged wife in the Docks who runs his gang in his absence, but she’s already with another man.
    • Whitechapel has Cadogan Bates, a churlish slumlord who rents to the "filthy immigrants" (quote), squeezing every last penny – and then some, with female tenants – while also trying to make use of Dr. Reid’s medical expertise to help him profiteer off more prospective tenants. Jonathan is so disgusted by Cadogan, that the player can feel his rage bubbling to the surface when he speaks to him.
    • Again in Whitechapel, Fr. Tobias Whitaker is an intolerant preacher who insults Dr. Reid for being a scientist, shows open disgust at doctors and nurses for not treating people with prayers (and holds Nurse Crane in particular contempt), is a misogynist, insults the local vicar, openly expresses that he would solve the Spanish Flu epidemic by having London burn to the ground (again), and if you choose to look for his apprentice, find out that he's actually burnt people alive to “cleanse” them, and doesn't regret it.
    • For the Docks, we’ve Seymour Fishburn. He’s a remorseless Serial Killer who justifies his crimes by saying he has these ‘demons’ in his head. Unlike Clay and Cadogan, Seymour has a good trait about him: his love for his mother. Yet even that love is bordering on petty jealousy that compels him to make a young orphan’s life – for whom his mother cares for – a living hell.
  • Aura Vision: One of Jonathan's vampire powers. He can see someone's cardiovascular system, can determine whether they are sick or healthy, and, if sick, with what disease(s); convenient for a doctor. This power also allows him to eavesdrop on conversations (as citizens' hearts start to emit a bright glow that alerts him).
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: The Ascalon Club was founded by Lord Redgrave, Progeny of William Marshal (see below), and he only accepts the most blue-blooded male Ekons as members. In truth, Redgrave’s lineage is so weak that he can only sire Skals himself.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • William Marshal, the famous 12th-century knight, plays a key role in the lore as Britain’s most ancient vampire.
    • At the end of the game, Myrddin reveals to Jonathan that King Arthur had been one of his previous vampire champions. An annoyed Jonathan then shouts out a list of other notable English figures (Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, Alfred the Great, Francis Drake, Thomas More, and Guy Fawkes) and asks if they’re also Myrddin's Progeny. The response? One of the men on Jonathan’s list is indeed a vampire.
    • And in a situational version, the Spanish Flu pandemic is portrayed instead as being a vampiric plague – at least in London’s case.
  • Being Good Sucks: No vampire pun intended. It's possible to complete the game without draining any non-hostile NPCs, but you'll be extremely weak. You still get some experience for fighting enemies and completing investigations, but it's a fraction compared to what you'd get for chomping on an NPC. On the other hand, playing as a good vampire earns the happy ending; to get the best ending you have to avoid killing any non-hostile characters, even the ones who are Asshole Victims, outright murderers, or generally awful human beings. You can get the next best ending by limiting your killings to only a few select people.
  • Bittersweet Ending: There’s a tinge of this to every ending you can get – save for the worst one. Jonathan defeats the Red Queen and saves London from the epidemic, but his sister is still dead, his mother can also be potentially dead, and Elizabeth can commit suicide if he’s been over-indulging.
  • Blessed with Suck: Being a vampire grants one many useful abilities, but the need and thirst for blood compel one to kill and feed on anyone nearby, including innocents. The game explores the dualism of being a vampire; that in order to live forever, you must take the lives of others. This also comes into conflict with Jonathan’s Hippocratic Oath of “first, do no harm."
  • Big Bad: The Red Queen (a.k.a. Morrigan) is revealed to be the source of the Skal epidemic on London; she’s also been trying to wipe out humanity on a fairly regular basis over the millenia.
  • Body Horror: Skals are afflicted with hideous deformities, as seen in this concept art. That said, they are nothing compared to Ichors, the living embodiments of disease mixed with vampire blood, since they are even more mutated than the average Skals.
  • Brain Food: As in some Anne Rice-inspired works, feeding on someone doesn't just drain their life but transfers memories. You hear the dying thoughts of every citizen ( barring Sean Hampton and Edgar Swansea) you chomp on, for example. Anyone you've Embraced will have a full biography in the menu because you now know all their secrets (sometimes this is the only way to get a unique weapon or a key to a locker they own). This is also why learning hints about the citizens boosts the XP gain because you understand the memories you've absorbed better.
  • But Thou Must!: While the player can choose whoever Jonathan feeds on someone, at the very start of the game he has to in order to continue, whether the player likes it or not. The victim turns out to be his sister.
  • Cain and Abel: A tragic example, as the very first victim that Jonathan kills is his sister Mary. She returns mid-game as a vampire herself, and is very pissed off about her condition.
  • Cessation of Existence: Several characters in the game hold no faith in the existence of life after death. In particular, Aloysius Dawson desires to be turned into a vampire because he is terrified that there is nothing waiting for him when he dies. His entire motivation is that he's terrified of death.
  • The Chosen One: It's revealed that Jonathan was sired by no mere vampire, but by an entity known as Myrddin to be his champion and save the world from the Red Queen. Downplayed in that there were many Chosen Ones before Jonathan.
  • City Noir: 1918 London is a dark and devastated place. Most of the people are hiding because of the rampant influenza, the hospitals are full and telling people that are sick to go back home, and there is a vampire infestation going on at the same time. And depending on Jonathan's actions, he can send the entire city into complete anarchy and chaos.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Played straight for probably the first time in decades albeit Dr. Reid is a Downplayed Trope example. He is a dark, sinister-looking European aristocratic gentleman with a coat that strongly resembles a cape with a High Collar of Doom. He is cursed with a Horror Hunger and lives in a time just after the Victorian Era. He possesses mesmerism, is affected by crosses, and is chased by vampire hunters. Indeed, the other vampires in the setting also possess many classic trope examples. Indeed, the primarily influences appear to be Dracula (for the Ekons), Nosferatu (for the Skals), and Carmilla (for Lady Ashbury).
  • Compelling Voice: Jonathan can use two different versions of this.
    • The Hint system allows Jonathan to very lightly compel a person to tell them secrets and information that they wouldn't normally give up which is shown by a slight warping of his voice when he compels his target. He also uses this to convince people who normally would refuse his medications to take them.
    • A much harsher version is the Mesmerize power, which allows Jonathan to directly control his victim's mind, getting them to move to hidden locations so he can feed on them.
  • The Corruption: The Blood of Hate, which is spread by the Red Queen, corrupts the vampires tainted by it into bloodthirsty monsters. In the past, William Marshal discovered a cure for it and used it on Elisabeth, but it didn’t quite work.
  • Council of Vampires: The Ascalon Club is an elite of the richest and most powerful vampires that shape society and keep their kind's existence a secret. Curiously, not all their high-ranking members are vampires since they allow humans as equal partners so long as they are wealthy and influential enough. Also curiously, this particular cabal is dedicated to protecting the British Empire; they're much more nationalistic than vampires are usually depicted.
  • Crapsack World: The real world of 1918's Britain has suffered the one-two punch of World War 1 and the Spanish Flu. In addition to the massive amount of dead young men in the trenches, two hundred thousand people died of influenza. It's also a place full of racism, sexism, classicism, and other social conflicts. That's in the real world. Now add roving gangs of blood-crazed Skals, vampire hunters, and the fact the British Empire is heavily influenced by a bunch of vampires.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The game is set in London in 1918, a time when misogyny, racism and homophobia were common in society. The player will meet both victims and perpetrators of this in the course of the story. It is perfectly possible for Jonathan to condemn those who perpetrate it or display sympathy for its victims.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Downplayed. While Jonathan is never given the chance to straight-out tell the gullible Londoners what he really is – Clarence Crossley being the only exception – he can take on the tasks that could increase public awareness of vampires if completed properly e.g. putting Ichabod Throgmorton's anti-vampire posters around the Docks. Naturally, at the same time, he can disobey, burn the posters and say they were taken down by militia. The irony amuses him as shown in his journal entries.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Managing to beat the game as a vampire who hadn’t Embraced anyone will earn you the best ending where Jonathan and Elisabeth migrate to the US and live peacefully for centuries to come.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Morrigan is the progenitor of vampires. She is the Blood of Hate that compels them to kill. She is completely incomprehensible, too, even to her own son Myrddin, who is a creature just like herself. You fight her as the Final Boss, but it’s made explicitly clear you’re just Fighting a Shadow and the Morrigan can never be destroyed.
  • Exact Words: Unusually, it's the interface that does this. Notice how all the loading screen hints say that draining civilians is the easiest and fastest way to gain XP? Not the best?
  • The Extremist Was Right:
    • While the Guard of Priwen is guilty of Van Helsing Hate Crimes, they do have a point about the majority of vampires in general; some are corrupt beings fueled by the Blood or Hate while others are arrogant and domineering individuals like the Ascalon Club. Jonathan can also be played as a total monster, leaving Elisabeth as the sole good vampire, and even she has to kill to sate her thirst (though she takes no pleasure in doing this).
    • Fr. Tobias Whitaker is an old priest who believes the epidemic to be The Scourge of God, sent to cleanse London, and advocates using fire to eradicate it. Not only is he correct about the plague's true nature, he is the first character to hint at the Big Bad's existence when he mentions “a laughing Queen dressed in blood” during his ramblings.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The Ascalon Club is basically based around Ekon supremacy with a ritual that talks about blood purity and tradition. Lord Redgrave states his plan for resolving the crisis is to kill every Skal in England.
    • Unsurprisingly, the Guard of Priwen want to annihilate ‘‘all’’ vampires.
  • Fantastic Slurs: The Guard of Priwen refer to vampires as "leeches" and "vermin".
  • Fighting a Shadow: The game's final boss in a nutshell. After killing Harriet Jones, the Red Queen's avatar emerges from her body and attacks Jonathan. However, she is not destroyed when defeated but merely agrees to go back to slumber when asked by her son Myrddin. She does this only after telling everyone that she will return.
  • Flash Step: One of Jonathan's vampire abilities that allows him to save time zipping about.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Skals are assumed to be brainless Always Chaotic Evil beasts until we discover a community of Skals living peacefully under London. We can find clues proving that they’re smarter than they look right at the start of the game with the very first Skal we face, William Bishop, stopping by a bar to have a drink.
    • A small subtle one regarding weaknesses to religious items: it's shown that they can paralyse Jonathan. However, Sean Hampton, even after becoming a Skal, is never hurt by the one he wears which foreshadows William Marshal's immunity as well. In the end, he tells Jonathan he received immortality from Archangel Michael (Myrddin), revealing he remained a devout Christian even after being turned.
    • When talking with Harriet Jones in the Skal sanctuary, she says she can hear voices, which Jonathan believes are just her mind playing tricks. It's actually the Red Queen talking to her.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Several traders in the game such as Rakesh Chadana and Milton Hooks are Pembroke staff that sell illegal goods, while Edwina Cox is this trope by default (being a gang member that sells you weapons). Depending on your choices, Dorothy Crane can become this if Jonathan spares her, offering to buy medical supplies and serums to fund her illegal dispensary. There are legitimate traders (like Carolyn Price) in the game, but they are comparatively fewer.
  • Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire:
    • Possibly invoked, as one can complete the game without killing a single non-hostile NPC. However, this makes the game a bit more difficult, because you can't get new abilities without consuming blood.
    • Lady Ashbury, Jonathan's friend other than Dr. Swansea. She feeds on the sick and the dying, but takes no pleasure in killing and is, otherwise, a perfectly nice and friendly person.
    • Sean Hampton is a tragic subversion. He is turned into Skal after being infected by Bishop at the start of the game. Initially, he manages to keep control instead of losing his mind like other Skals and takes it upon himself to protect his flock (homeless humans) and the Sewer Skals. If Jonathan chooses, he can spare Hampton and leave him to his devices, and when he returns to the Docks in the following night, Sean Hampton has turned into a high-level mini-boss, forcing Jonathan to put him down.
      • Played straight if Jonathan asks around the Docks about Sean before confronting him. This awards the player all of Sean's hints and unlocks for a third option that allows him to safely continue his work.
    • Sir William Marshal might have been this kind of vampire – if being remembered as a hero by the Ascalon Club is any indication. When reminiscing on his own past, William mentions he drank from the "throats of the unworthy" which, at least, paints him in a ruthless light.
  • God Is Good: Myrddin refers to the Blood of Hate as a wish "to spit upon the eye of God." Given the implication, one could infer that not only does God exist in the game's universe, He is probably a pretty great guy.
  • Glamour Failure: Ekons are capable of disguising themselves from mortals, including Jonathan if he’s gotten red eyes and a pallor from feeding too much. That being said, few humans like the Guard of Priwen (vampire hunters), Dr. Swansea (a human scholar in vampirism) and Charlotte Ashbury (adopted and raised by a vampire) can identify them on the spot. Charlotte implies that Ekons can project some kind of aura that hides their nature and humans can be taught a trick to see past it.
  • Good Is Not Soft: While the player can abstain from feeding on innocents, there is no penalty for biting and draining opponents in the middle of combat.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: Sir William Marshal is looked up to by the Ascalon Club and vampires in general, while the Guard of Priwen considers him as the Greater-Scope Villain, since he was the only ancient vampire that managed to evade their Great Hunt. Even then he still qualifies as a Paragon within the narrative since he was Jonathan's predecessor as a vampire champion that saved England from a Disaster just like Jonathan, and it's revealed he discovered a partial cure for the Red Queen's Blood of Hate.
  • Guide Dang It!: Aplenty.
    • The game gives no indication that the player should conserve their Experience Points before confronting Sean Hampton (500XP) or saving Dr. Swansea (3000XP) if they want to prevent the Docks and Pembroke districts from possibly collapsing. But the game is lenient in this regard: even if you don't have enough XP, your XP total will go into negative, but the characters involved will still be turned.
    • Investigations that are linked to hints are similarly counterintuitive e.g. in Whitechapel, do you give the keepsake scarf to Clayton Darby or Christina Popa? Turns out, returning it to the owner will void two of her hints.
    • Hints are this in general. Wrong dialogue choices will permanently lock you out of getting them.
    • Feeding on the Vicar during Mary's boss fight will lock you out of the best ending and ruin your pacifist run, even if he's not listed as a civilian on the Citizen Menu.
  • Hate Plague: How the epidemic started, as Harriet Jones' mere presence was able to transform her daughter into a full-blown Ichor and a would-be Disaster.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Played with in all sorts of ways.
    • Downplayed with Jonathan. Jonathan pursues his mysterious Maker demanding answers and possibly revenge for causing his sister's death. Turns out his Maker is no mere vampire, but a godlike Eldritch Abomination that chose him to be his champion. Over the course of the story, he becomes something of a Trickster Mentor to Jonathan, who grows exasperated with him and his riddles, but by the endgame they part ways on more-or-less civil terms.
    • Played straight with Mary who loathes her brother for accidentally turning her into a vampire and begins targeting the people all around him as revenge.
    • Subverted and inverted with McCullum and Swansea if you opt to turn them into vampires. Jonathan wishes to punish both of them for their crimes. However, despite initially begging to not be turned due to regarding vampirism a Fate Worse than Death, McCullum adapts to it quite well, continuing his job as before. Upon meeting Jonathan again, he is a lot more civil than before. Swansea, on the other hand, is positively overjoyed with becoming a vampire despite Jonathan’s original intent and soundly thanks him if Jonathan comes to speak to him again.
    • Averted with Elisabeth and her Maker William Marshal whom she loves as if he was her own father.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Jonathan is allowed to wield improvised weapons such as hacksaws, which can be upgraded through a crafting system. There are also wooden stakes and cudgels you can use in your off-hand which stun enemies rather than do direct damage.
    • Mary Reid uses a makeshift wooden cross that marked her grave as melee weapon for her boss fight.
    • The Guard of Priwen also like throwing garlic grenades at you.
  • Irony: The Guard of Priwen holds King Arthur in high regard. He was, after all, a defender of Britain and his blood is a sacred relic with McCullum using a serum made from it to fight against vampires on equal ground. Jonathan finds out King Arthur was a vampire, and not just any other, but a vampire champion just like him sired by Myrddin to fight against the Red Queen.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fire is the biggest weakness of the undead. Vampire hunters who shoot you with regular bullets reduce your health, but it is easily regenerated, while the ones who shoot you with incendiary rounds cause damage to your maximum health. Torch-wielders are the same deal. The player can get in on the fun too, with white phosphorus upgrades for the firearms which deal bonus damage to vampires.
  • Knight Templar: The Guard of Priwen fancy themselves as being “good”, but in one sidequest you find out they stole money from the Docks’ Trade Union and let the member holding the money take the blame. They also break into the Whitechapel dispensary and shoot helpless patients in their beds – presumably because they might have been infected. They’re also not above Cold-Blooded Torture as Dr. Swansea finds out later on.
  • Hidden Elf Village: There is a small community of Skals hiding in London sewers. According to Old Bridget, as long as there have been vampires, Skals were also nearby which implies there are other Skals communities spread across the world.
  • Horror Hunger: A common problem that Jonathan will have to deal with. At the very start of the game, he succumbs to it shortly after being turned and claims his first victim. Skals don't drink blood, but are instead driven to feast upon flesh like ghouls, so they're even messier.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are four primary zones Jonathan explores throughout the game, and each zone has at least a dozen named characters populating each: the total number of NPCs Jonathan can interact with is well over 50. Each character has a reasonably detailed backstory, and most have at least one direct relationship with another character that will determine how they react to certain events.
  • Low-Level Run: The "Not Even Once" achievement involves doing this by never Embracing any citizens.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Pippa Hawkins and Milton Hooks, a white woman and a black man respectively, are secretly dating. Downplayed somewhat in that while Hooks says racism prevents them from openly acknowledging it (he even mistakes Reid for a racist when he inquires about it), they have other reasons to keep it hidden, like exploiting patients together.
  • Man of the City: Each district will have an important citizen referred to as "Pillar", who are responsible for keeping their regions healthy and stable. Just like every NPC death will affect the area in some way, killing the district's Pillar will affect it in a huge way, reducing its health and making all citizens fall more ill. Some Pillars are worth more than others in terms of Health Status.
  • Meaningful Name: Several associated with British mythology.
    • The Guard of Priwen lift their name from King Arthur's shield, which represents them as guardians of the land.
    • The Ascalon Club was named after Saint George's lance/sword used to slay the dragon, since they view themselves as the British Empire's steadfast weapon.
    • The Pembroke Hospital is revealed to be named after Lady Ashbury's father, William Marshal, the first Earl of Pembroke.
  • Mind Rape: Mesmerism is noted to work like this, enabling a vampire to implant thoughts, erase memories, or simply force people to do things. It's also just as likely to break a person's mind if the vampire doesn't know what they're doing, as demonstrated by Nurse Crane, should Jonathan attempt to erase her memory.
  • Mook Chivalry: A partial example. Enemies will happily gang up on you most of the time, but when you combat-bite one of them all his friends will politely stand back and let you go through the biting animation uninterrupted.
  • Moral Dissonance: The game treats feeding on named NPCs as different from biting enemies in combat, even though narratively said difference isn't clear. They have different effect mechanically as far as gameplay is concerned, and feeding on named NPCs affects the ending. But it also leads to this trope where Jonathan tells Elisabeth how he's been able to fight his hunger to convince her they can live in peace because he's not Embraced any named NPCs despite the fact that Jonathan will almost certainly (doubly so in a no-Embrace run due to the lack of XP) have fed and drained hundreds of mooks using the in-combat bite.
  • Morton's Fork: The final choice in the story regarding what should be done with Dr. Swansea after finding out he caused the epidemic by injecting Harriet Jones with vampire blood. You can either kill him, leave him to die of the injuries he sustained or turn him into a vampire. The first two will lead to Pembroke's district losing its Pillar and almost certainly descending into chaos – with the second option earning you no XP. The third option will allow him to live but he will become a Karma Houdini who is ‘’very’’ content with his new condition and while the district will remain stable for the game's duration, no good will come with the hospital administrator being a vampire since it's heavily implied he will prey upon the staff and patients. While previous choices gave you a third option, there is no good outcome in this one.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on how Jonathan was played, how many of London's citizens survived and what decisions he made, there are four distinct endings after the final boss.
    • Walking the Earth: if Jonathan managed to go on without Embracing any civilians, Jonathan will succeed in talking Elisabeth out of killing herself and vows to find a cure for the Blood of Hate. The two then travel across the world and visit America. Myrddin will be proud of Jonathan and wish him peace. Jonathan’s eyes must remain clear and human for this ending.
    • Find the Cure!: If Jonathan Embraced one to four civilians, the ending is the same as the above except they will lock themselves up in Elisabeth's Estate with Old Bridget standing guard for them. Myrddin will be proud of Jonathan and wish him luck on his new quest. Jonathan’s eyes must be bloodshot with a circularly-constricted pupil for this ending.
    • Despair Event Horizon: If Jonathan Embraced anywhere from five to nine civilians, Elisabeth will incinerate herself despite his anguished declaration of love and he will never get over her death. Myrddin will express pity towards Jonathan for having lost his way. Jonathan’s eyes must be bloodshot with a slit pupil for this ending.
    • Fully-Embraced Fiend: If Jonathan Embraced more than ten citizens, the ending is nearly the same as the above, except Jonathan will not be too affected by Elisabeth’s death. He then becomes a monster with no sympathy for humanity that kills indiscriminately. Myrddin will express disapproval over his fallen champion. Jonathan’s eyes must be red with a slit pupil for this ending.
  • Mundane Fantastic: You play as a vampire physician who, nonetheless, can scrawl prescriptions to his patients.
  • Must Be Invited: One of Jonathan's vampiric weaknesses is that he can only enter others' homes if he's invited (although the only thing stopping you from mind controlling them into inviting Jonathan in is his memorisation level, which is increased by doing story missions). Note that this only applies to occupied homes; he can freely enter unoccupied homes, houses with Skal residents, or buildings with multiple occupants or "public" places without invitation. Probably also useful from a developer standpoint since this gives them an excuse for him to not be able to go through every house in London. During one citizen investigation, Jonathan lampshades this.
    Jonathan: (steps inside) No invitation is needed to enter this building? That can't be a good sign.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Vulkod vampires like Fergal Bansha and Leon Augustin have unusual body proportions, with oversized torso and upper limbs which looks just off next to others.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing:
    • Playing as a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire means you will leave everyone alive, no matter how loathsome and despicable they are. That said, it's possible to get the second-best ending by only targeting a select few victims, meaning you can still get away with killing the worst of the worst if you want a good but not perfect ending.
    • Playing vigilante judge, jury, and executioner is a slippery slope, especially when you're a creature of the night that can steadily get addicted to blood, and lose your humanity while you're at it. Is it not ideal in the slightest? Yes, but think of what happens when Jonathan's bodies start to pile up, he becomes more inhumane and remorseless, and starts to shift his ideals and who counts as "innocent" or "guilty," if he even bothers to make that distinction any more. In addition, killing people that might deserve it like Aloysius Dawson and Dr. Swansea will cause their districts' health to plummet.
    • This is also utilized by dialogue choices, ranging from something as minor as saying "looks aren't everything" to a disfigured patient in Pembroke – who immediately calls Dr. Reid a hypocritical pretty-boy – to major choices where sparing someone instead of outright killing them will lead to disastrous consequences in the same way like mind-controlling Nurse Crane or believing Father Hampton will lead to both of them becoming rabid and their districts taking a hit to the Health Status.
  • Orderlies Are Creeps: The staff at the Pembroke are an interesting take as they are almost, to a man, crooks of one sort or another. However, they are written as deeply flawed human characters rather than caricatures, and are still all volunteering their time and risking their lives to deal with the tragedy of the Spanish Flu.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Generally, vampires are close to their Gothic portrayal: they're undead, they have to feed on blood (or, in the case of Skals, flesh), despise sunlight – though it cannot straight-out destroy them – are immortal and do not age. Feeding on mortals is unavoidably fatal, and in doing so, the vampire uncovers all of their prey's secrets. Turning happens via an ingestion of vampire blood or an intravenous injection, but vampires of ancient lineage can also sire someone by Embracing (draining). Turning isn't always successful and the candidate can die in the process. Vampires can feed on other vampires, and lower caste vampires can be transformed into a "higher" caste if they find a willing donor. While not inherently evil creatures, vampires can fall victim to the Morrigan's Blood of Hate and become remorseless monsters unless they vaccinate themselves against it.
  • People Puppets: One of Jonathan's vampire powers. He can manipulate people in this manner, and it doubles as Compelling Voice.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Once a district's health has fallen into "Hostile" status, the area will be irreversibly overrun with enemies and any sidequests will become unavailable due to all civilian NPCs being dead. Also killing civilians will make any possible hints unavailable. Peculiarly, the Pillars – if your story choices warranted their survival – are not affected by this and remain where they’ve always been. They do have interesting things to say about you and their fallen district, however...
  • The Plague: The game is set in London during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. The developers based the game on this period in order to inspire a Gothic Horror mood.
  • Plot Armor: Essential NPCs that cannot be Embraced through conventional methods have the Mesmerize Resistance of higher than 5 while Jonathan's Mesmerize power peaks with said 5.
  • Politically Correct History: Played with. There is a significant number of non-white characters and while some discrimination is referenced, few is depicted onscreen and mostly referenced. Jonathan has 21th Century sensibilities towards a gay couple (Newton Blight and Oswald Thatcher) and mixed-race couple (Pippa Hawkins and Milton Hooks). At the same time, it makes it clear that both couples are afraid of backlash (especially the former, since during that time homosexuality was illegal, and Blight is worried about the stigma). Characters with bigoted views are also viewed negatively instead of being a product of their time.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • The Ascalon Club’s Lord Redgrave is a misogynist, who doesn’t let women (Ekon or not) join his organization since they are "fickle and prone to emotion, especially if immortal". Though to be fair, it was not an out-of-place view in that time period and Lady Ashbury (a female vampire) is not too torn up about being forbidden from joining it.
    • Mr. Bates, the racist and sexist slumlord in Whitechapel. He is not technically a villain since he is a civilian NPC just like all the others and never an actual threat, his moral failings will truly test a player’s commitment to a "Not Even Once" playthrough.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: Going on a rampage as an evil vampire will invariably result in your Love Interest burning herself to crisp in shame for unwittingly playing her part on the epidemic. Best exemplified in the ending where Jonathan doesn't get over her death and crosses the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Rape as Backstory: Asking around at the Docks allows Dr. Reid to learn this about Mr. Hampton, the "Sad Saint" of the East End. He was not only abandoned by his parents at the doorstep of an orphanage, the priest there later went on to molest him. Unusually for this trope, this strengthened his belief in God, rather than diminishing it.
  • Reality Ensues: A number of surprising incidents of this happen in the game.
    • Pembroke Hospital is shown as a place of mismanagement, Harmful Healing, and deplorable conditions. In the end, should Swansea be turned into a vampire or Jonathan purposefully collapse it, the hospital has an article written about it which exposes its glaring issues.
    • Going against the Ascalon Club results in them sending very powerful assassins after you. They promise to banish you from England with the full extent of their resources.
    • Jonathan can support the experimentation of Dr. Strickland and his devotion to cutting edge technology for treating sickness. He'll then be forced to eat his words when he discovers Dr. Strickland is a prideful nigh- charlatan and his experiments would kill his patients.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: Jonathan can catch and eat rats off the ground to feed. They don't provide XP, but at least they can heal aggravated wounds. There is even an achievement for eating ten rats. Jonathan may comment how disgusting it is.
  • Regenerating Health: Being a vampire, Jonathan regenerates his health when out-of-combat or when using the Autophagy skill. That said, there is a limit to how much health he can heal while he sustains aggravated damage.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Guard of Priwen were originally members of the Brotherhood of Saint Paul, which was just dedicated to studying the supernatural. The Guard decided to take up arms to defend mankind against vampires, and while that goal may seem noble (especially if you play as an evil vampire), the ones we see in the game are merely bandits and thugs.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • Dorothy Crane is revealed to be correct over Elisabeth killing patients at Pembroke Hospital. She is wrong as to the reason why, believing that Elisabeth kills for sport and pleasure when in fact, she only kills to sustain herself and she takes no joy in doing so.
    • McCullum suspects that the Skal epidemic was started by Edgar and Jonathan as they were hoping to emulate William Marshal trying to unleash a Disaster like in 1666. It's revealed he is right about Edgar, at least; Jonathan had no idea that his friend was experimenting with vampire blood on a person that turned out to be a Disaster personified and Marshal actually was attempting to stop the Disaster in 1666.
  • Save Scumming: Thoroughly averted. You are incapable of reloading to an earlier save in order to make your choices more consequential. Meaning, if you decide to feed on someone just to see what happens, or picked the wrong dialogue option which locks out the rest, well tough luck. You will have these consequences playing over for the rest of the game, and the only way to fix them is to restart the whole game. Tough luck playing the game blind.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Suicide Is Shameful: One of the hints for Mortimer Goswick reveals that he's in hospital because of an attempted suicide. While Jonathan doesn't judge him too harshly, it's noted that it's still a crime in Britain during the years the game's set in, and seeking help for his depression could, ironically, doom him.
  • Take a Third Option: In regards to the major choices in the storyline, a third option becomes available that allows a compromise to players wanting to keep the districts stable and not kill any NPCs, provided they made the right dialogue options:
    • Do you Embrace Sean Hampton to prevent him from becoming a monster, or let him live so he can become a monster later on? You can cure him with your blood.
    • Do you tell Dorothy Crane to resign from Pembroke or kill her to silence her? You can use Mesmerism to erase her memories of all the transpired events. Subverted in that this is actually the worst option since she is later attacked by Skals and is turned, leaving the district without its Pillar. Turns out telling her to resign is the best option.
    • Do you turn Aloysius Dawson into a vampire and create a depraved monster or do you kill him yourself? You can convince him to give up on the idea of immortality and accept death.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: You'll see very few citizens roaming London, though it's justified due to both the time of night Jonathan roams around and the plague keeping people indoors.
  • Tragic Monster: This is the possible fate of some of the citizens depending on Jonathan's actions throughout the game e.g. if you killed the loved ones of Thomas Elwood and Newton Blight, they will go missing and be found later as rabid vampires requiring you to put them down. If you pick the wrong choice regarding Nurse Crane and Father Hampton, they will become high-level Skals and can be fought as optional mini-bosses.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The game's hint system operates this way. Unlocking hints on various citizens frequently requires specific actions to be executed in a specific sequence, and sometimes it depends on specific dialogue choices that cannot be revisited within a single playthrough. Very often there will be no clues within the game that offer players any insight as to what were the correct choices in these situations.
  • The Unmasqued World: Zigzagged. Some are very much aware that the supernatural exists among the civilian population, but are either ignored or made fun of. On the other hand, community leaders are occasionally Welcomed to the Masquerade and some organizations like the Guard of Priwen and the Brotherhood of St. Paul Stole deal with these creatures on a nigh-daily basis and keep track of their whereabouts. One attempt at exterminating all British vampires was made in 1850s, but it is unclear if the battle had or hadn't caused a national uproar.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: Regarding Harriet Jones, Doctor Swansea has been doing this for months.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: Jonathan can bite his opponents mid-combat if they're stunned. Vampire enemies on the other hand can do the same to Jonathan too. The damage you do is minor (unless you upgrade your bite) but your blood refills which lets you use skills and you also regenerate a bit. Out of combat, draining a citizen for their XP sucks them so dry you absorb their memories.
  • Vampire Monarch: As the chairman of the Ascalon Club, Lord Redgrave is effectively the vampire authority in Britain. The Red Queen is actually higher than him in age and power due to being the progenitor of all vampires, but she is not a ruler like Redgrave and more of a force of nature.
  • Vampire Variety Pack:
    • Ekon, the conventional Dracula-type vampires, the crème de la crème of the species, are near-indistinguishable from humans and who mingle with mortal society, though they can be spotted by trained humans even though they have red eyes, pale skin and pronounced veins, its implied to be the result of some aura that hides their presence and humans that have dealt with them extensively. Because of that, the Ascalon Club allows only Ekon vampires to join. They specialize in shadows and blood manipulation.
    • Skal, the monstrous lesser bottom feeders, are regarded as slaves by the Ekon. While they were seemingly created by the Spanish Influenza, they are in fact older than the epidemic plaguing London and nobody really knows how they are made. It's been theorized they were Progeny denied by their makers. An even more dangerous sub-variant of them are the Ichors, plague-bearing monstrosities that spread disease wherever they go, with power superior to the average Skal and equal to Ekons, even more physically mutated than their kind (their condition twists their bodies beyond recognition to the point Harriet looks nothing like her previous self after being turned.
    • Vulkod are tall, animalistic vampires capable of shapeshifting into werewolf-like monsters. They are highly territorial and will attack anyone entering their space. Much like the Skal, they are incapable of fitting in due to their pitch-black skin, hulking figures and uneven limbs, though they're sometimes hired by the Ekon as personal bodyguards.
    • Nimrod are vampires that dedicate themselves to hunting their kind and are so effective at hiding they can even disguise themselves from the Ekon.
    • And then there is the Red Queen, an otherworldly abomination and mother of all vampires. Her Blood of Hate is the basest of instincts that incites all of her children to kill. Fortunately, her “most amusing son” Myrddin is there to stop her from wreaking havoc. To this end, Myrddin is capable of creating highly powerful Ekon that can fight on equal ground to the Red Queen's manifestation.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: The Guard of Priwen are a gathering of zealots who target all vampires: from ghoulish Skals to masqueraded Ekon.
  • Vein-o-Vision: As part of Jonathan’s powers, he can detect all blood nearby. This vampire sense lets him find any living beings nearby and even see the blood pumping in their veins. Useful for hunting, finding NPCs, and avoiding enemies. Interestingly, he can also see spilled blood, allowing him to track other vampires, Skals, and the Guard of Priwen.
  • The Virus: Vampirism in general is considered a disease on par with the Spanish influenza. Drinking fresh vampire blood is a sure way to turn you into a vampire (although there's a risk the transformation will fail and kill the person horribly, and old vampire blood still grants the drinker superhuman strength as seen with McCullum). In addition to vampirism is an infection known as the Blood of Hate, which is the imperfection that gives all vampires the urge to kill. This is why vampires like Lady Ashbury make sure her victims stay dead after she is done with them.
  • Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Your Aura Vision not only lets you see blood, but blood vessels pumping in nearby civilians. And the game helpfully puts a placard over everyone saying exactly how much EXP you'd get for killing them, so the game manages to cleverly tempt both the player as well as the player character at the same time. Jonathan may be able to stave off the hunger with a few rats but he'll never get strong enough to face powerful enemies without chomping on someone.
  • Weakened by the Light: Sunlight can burn vampires and cause aggravated damage to Jonathan though it's noted that while sunlight can fry a vampire to a crisp, they'll regenerate when the sun goes down, so it's not fully lethal. When crosses are pointed at Jonathan, they manifest as blinding lights that are impossible to look at directly.
  • Weirdness Censor:
    • Most of the upstanding Citizen NPCs don't have a clue about the horrendous ghouls and thuggish vampire hunters roaming the streets at night, assuming the former to be just crazies and the latter to be some kind of militia. A particularly egregious example are the lost citizens threatened by Skals trying to eat them and then they are saved by a stranger that moves like a shadow and bites their attackers, and they never question what he is.
    • Invoked with the Ekon, who naturally project an aura that hides their appearance from others, unless one is properly trained to notice the difference, like the Guard of Priwen. If they spot Jonathan from a distance, they will believe he’s a normal citizen and simply tell him to leave as the area is too dangerous. It’s only when he gets close to them that they realize he’s a vampire.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Besides Jonathan (who can be played as a ravenous predator that feeds on civilians, his ultimate goal is still to save London), there are other examples:
    • Nurse Dorothy Crane runs an illegal dispensary in Whitechapel distributing medicine she stolen and plied to help the district's citizens as best as she could. She is also not above using blackmailing against Lady Ashbury after discovering she is killing hospital patients, but to her credit, she doesn't use it for personal gain but to help the people of Whitechapel.
    • The Guard of Priwen want to protect mankind from vampires and to this end, they are willing to perform pogroms against them all over London.
    • Jonathan's mentor is an ultimately benevolent being that wants to protect Britain by any means necessary against his mother's wrath, even if it means siring a vampire that can potentially cause London to fall into chaos.
  • Wham Line: The revelation of the true start of the Skal epidemic.
    Dr. Edgar Swansea: All I did was administer vampire blood to cure old Harriet.[...]
    Dr. Jonathan Reid: You did what?
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: While civilian deaths will have consequences no matter how unimportant they appear to be, generic enemies such as Guard of Priwen are not held to the same standard and can be killed freely. For example, if Jonathan feeds on Nurse Hawkins, the Pembroke Hospital district will be affected with one of their staff members dying and patients growing more sick. However, even if Jonathan starts killing the Guard by the dozen, it doesn’t affect any of the districts.
  • Wretched Hive: Pembroke Hospital turns out to be this as all of the staff are hiding something. These include things like extorting patients, robbing the corpses of unclaimed dead, drug addiction, covering for drug addiction, unethical experiments on patients by not one but two of the doctors in unrelated incidents, and one of the nurses robbing the place to fund her own illegal clinic. Oh, did we mention the hospital is at maximum capacity and the morgue is overrun with the undead? That too.


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