Vampire Survivors has been keeping me up as of late for more time than I’d like to admit. It’s incredibly simple in its premise and execution but manages to capture this sort of power fantasy of a vampire hunter that mows down through hordes of monsters in the middle of the night, trying to survive all the way through. It’s fun and cheap and honestly, quite addicting, which is why I today wanted to share my thoughts on why it’s so effective and why you should definitely check it out!
Developer: poncle Publisher: poncle Genre: Gothic, Casual, Action-Roguelite, Indie, 2D, Arena-Shooter Release Date: December 17th, 2021 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC, Android Copy was purchased.
At its core, Vampire Survivors is a gothic-themed casual rogue-lite game where you move your character around using either your keyboard or your mouse while you avoid enemies. Due to the simple control scheme, the game proves to be quite accessible for a lot of people, which is lovely – but it also sounds incredibly easy when I phrase it like that, too, doesn’t it? Well, the enemy hordes’ strength increases over time and hence you’ll need to get stronger as well, making the game more difficult as it goes and giving it a Risk of Rain or Loop Hero vibe, in a way. Enemies killed drop gems/exp that then level you up. Upon levelling up, you unlock one of three perks or weapons – four if you’re lucky! These perks and weapons are your bread and butter in any given run. Weapons deal damage in an area, single target damage, or can even help you clear waves. Perks do all sorts of things from increasing stats to improving weapons, so you can create some interesting builds here. Just the other day, I had a run where I was stacking this book that grants you cooldown reduction. At the same time, I had a Fire Wand, Magic Wand, Runetracer, Axe and my character’s knives, resulting in me shooting out multiple projectiles a whole lot and quite fast. Inevitably, though, I died because I didn’t increase my resistance and I didn’t scale my base damage too well.
And that’s kind of where the game really shines. Even if you get incredibly strong, you can still die. It’s difficult and kiting is key which I personally love to see. As your character attacks on their own, you can focus on collecting exp and dodging enemies as you please, which makes it kind of addicting? The game is easy to learn but hard to master. Different maps have different mechanics. The Swamp, for instance, has lots of bat enemies that can push otherwise slow enemies towards you. There is also this flower circle event happening every five minutes, which is quite interesting? Also, the bosses and elites are pretty cool there, although I also enjoy the library map quite a bit. The game has a few different unlockable items, maps and characters to look out for and you can also invest money that you collect in rounds into permanent stat increases that help you in future runs.
The characters you unlock feel pretty similar but have their own unique mechanics in a way. Mortaccio is probably my favourite given that it’s a Skeleton with a Halo that shoots out bones that bounce around. Antonio’s attacks can deal up to 50% extra damage (10% more every 10 levels) and he starts out with a whip. Meanwhile, Imelda gains more experience and starts with a magic wand, which is also quite interesting. I really like the characters and their very over-the-top Castlevania-esque style. I’d like to think that each character has their own identity and optimal builds but practically, I think you can try out anything you want on any of the characters. You may wanna min-max certain characters’ bonuses but in the end, fun is all that matters and there’s plenty of fun to have here.
Runs usually are ten to eighteen minutes long for me. Sometimes, I have super good runs that are close to twenty minutes in their duration but then I mess up and can’t get out as I get surrounded and gobbled up. While you’d think that the increasing difficulty would be the cause for a lot of frustration, I personally found it pretty fun to just start a new run and see how far you go. There is no high score or anything like that, so you can’t really compare your run to other people. Instead, it’s all about surviving really well and getting pretty strong.
Now, my issue with the game is that I actually get motion sickness on the Mad Forest map. You can move across a seemingly infinite map in any direction and as your character is all the time in the middle of the screen, the map moves with you. As it gets darker and as more enemies appear, though, I noticed that I sometimes have a hard time following what’s going on and weirdly, it’s like Motion Sickness, even though it’s not exactly like it if that makes sense. The Inlaid Library map isn’t quite as bad compared to Mad Forest but I found it a bit iffy at times when I had to deal with getting slightly dizzy, looking at the screen and what was happening. I don’t know if that’s a common issue but personally, I just avoid that map now, which is a bummer technically. I hope that the devs find a solution for that.
Apart from that, though, I don’t have much to complain about. The game runs smoothly. Vampire Survivors is fun and challenging. “Just one more run of this” often turns into a few. It’s pretty good, especially for the price asked. If you have three bucks to spare, I can highly recommend spending them here, especially as the dev is against NFTs and business practices associated with them in game-dev. I feel like that’s worth supporting, innit? I also found the game to be rather polished even though it’s still in Early Access. So, don’t let the EA tag bother you too much when you check it out.