Vampyr is an action role-playing game played from a third-person view. The player controls the game’s protagonist Jonathan E. Reid, a vampire doctor whose thirst for blood compels him to kill innocent people. To do this successfully, he must gather information about his targets—study and change their habits, collect clues and maintain certain relationships by communicating with the inhabitants of London, which serves as a fictionalised semi-open world built around hubs of neighbourhoods tethered to other interlinking areas. It is possible to finish the game without taking a life, which best preserves the character’s cover as a doctor but leaves him incapable of levelling up. Killing no one unlocks one of four different endings in the game.
If one so chooses, anyone in the game could be targeted, which will have consequences that affect the citizens of London. Reid can turn people into vampires and will only be able to enter a house with an invitation. Locals each have their different backgrounds, relationships and daily routines. If killed, they will impart to Reid their last thought. The “Mesmerise” ability can determine the behaviour of weaker targets, like coercing them into revealing important information or guiding them to less conspicuous areas so as to feed without resorting to combat. Feeding on human blood will unlock new vampiric powers in addition to providing nourishment. One can heal injured or sick victims, and if eaten, gain more from them in the process; the rate of their affliction can be viewed using Reid’s vampire senses. Each of the four districts will have a score based on the average health of its citizens.