What is Vampire Survivors?
Vampire Survivors is a retro gaming esque, survival based dungeon crawler, crossed with bullet hell elements of gameplay. Does that sound wild to you? Good. Because it is. The game itself was released in December 2021 and already has an overwhelmingly positive response from all players on Steam, and that isn’t difficult to see why.
Whilst the game itself won’t win any awards for its style or finesse, what it does do is draw you in with a simple gameplay mechanic that becomes devilishly complex the longer you play.
The premise is simple. Survive. At the very beginning, your only means of defence against the hordes of undead monstrosities is a whip that any Castlevania fan would love. As time passes, power ups become available as the main character levels up and this in turn leads to further power ups. Finally when dead, gold collected can be spent on new heroes or power ups for the next run.
A game of survival and time
The element that will draw in more people than any other roguelite bullet shooter out there is the time aspect of Vampire Survivors. Putting it simply, the longer you survive the harder the game becomes. Every 5 minutes the player is treated to an encroaching circle of death that seeks to pen them in.
“Every 5 minutes the player is treated to an encroaching circle of death that seeks to pen them in.”
The only option at this point is to ride out the attack or break the circle and flee. Why would you stay in such a predicament? Well boss characters drop chests on defeat, and when defeated have the best power ups for weapons and items already in the players inventory. Surely that is a risk worth being mobbed for?
Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.
Power up with power ups
As with any good bullet hell game, the power ups form an integral part of the game. They come in three types – Projectile, passive or area of effect. Power ups like the whip and fire balls are simple projectile based weapons. The passive power ups improve stats like base damage rating and luck. Whilst the area of effect weapons cause damage to a wide area of distant enemies randomly.
Undoubtedly the range of power ups available is impressive and as they unlock through gameplay makes them useful as you progress. However, the power up aspect of the game can feel somewhat underwhelming at times. Unless multiple powers are found at once, it rarely feels like the power ups are having an immediate impact.
Often you will find yourself railroaded into a similar set up each time. However this may be due to the early access nature of the game and speaks of the finer balancing still to be done.
Generally speaking, Vampire Survivors is a lot of fun. I certainly enjoyed racking up over 5 hours of gameplay in just one sitting. As modern takes on retro games go, this is definitely one of the more memorable ones. It combines classic elements of modern roguelites like Undermine with retro bullet hell games like Smash TV.
It is currently available on steam for around the price of a cheap coffee – no really. I highly recommend you skip the cup of joe today and pick up Vampire Survivors instead – you’ll thank yourself for it.
- Hours of fun
- Power ups are plentiful
- Lots to unlock
- 50+ achievements
- Looks and feels dated
- Power ups feel weak
- Sound could improve
- Still in Early Access