Sometimes the simplest and most silly games sink the hook in me and won’t let go even while the bigger, flashier options grab my attention…secrets, and even sillier things. That’s what happened with Vampire Survivors, when it released in Early Access almost a year ago despite being very similar to the hundreds of other tiny pixel art games on Steam that come and go every day. , has fascinated me and countless others. Since then I will be back. What’s novel about it is that it’s basically a twin-stick shooter that does away with one of the aforementioned sticks and all other buttons. of increasingly spongy enemies flooding the screen. It’s a clever idea that will keep you entertained endlessly longer than you thought, and even if it gets routine and boring, I’d love to fire up another challenge mode and see how long I can keep it going. You can feel the charm of being
There’s no sugar coating on that, Vampire Survivors certainly doesn’t look very similar. It looks like it was pulled out of the game. It manages to remain as readable as it needs to be while keeping it as simple as possible so you can pretty much know what’s going on in the utter chaos that’s about to happen. : Survive long enough and the screen will be flooded with enemies and psychedelic weapon effects until you lose track of what’s going on. But life on its borders is a thrill.
The constant frantic struggle is to keep your character’s damage output a step ahead of the rising tide of a flood of enemies that rages on a ticking clock that poses a greater threat every minute. Too ridiculous to be extreme if you can make it through a typical 30 minute run. As you speed up the pace of collecting gems, you can level up and choose from your enemies. 3 or 4 new weapons and passive his abilities will be randomly selected until the available slots are filled. The more you unlock, the more it becomes a game of choosing the best option from the hand dealt. Nearly all weapons have passive abilities that can be “evolved” into more powerful versions (for example, the basic magic wand can be combined with an empty tome that increases rate of fire to reduce the cooldown to full). can be removed at any time). To optimize your build, you need to choose carefully. It’s not as full of surprises as The Binding of Isaac’s combos, but there’s a lot to experiment with.
The captivating joy of Vampire Survivors comes from being far enough ahead that your bogged down auto-attack kills everything in one hit. However, we have a long way to go to get to that point. The first short run is on the Mud Forest map. It’s an endless green lawn with a few small clumps of trees and occasional cul-de-sacs where only the mad would be trapped inside. As with nearly all maps, going in one direction will cycle endlessly, like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that reuses the same background over and over. Reaching it allows you to unlock other maps, but gradually making them reachable and introducing some new obstacles makes the milestones a bit more interesting. It is a corridor in which you can move left or right forever, but not up or down. Gallo Tower, on the other hand, allows you to move up or down forever, but not left or right. A dairy factory is like an industrialized mud forest, but if you’re not careful, you’ll run into more. Eventually, the boss can unlock his rush his map, which is confined to a small arena. As you can see, they are not very sophisticated and most of the gameplay differences come down to bonuses to enemy strength and other modifiers.
It can be hard to wrap your head around the fact that most of these really last forever. A treasure chest that fell at that time, or when you weren’t looking. Luckily, there’s a map you can always pause and summon so you know what direction you should be heading to scoop them up.
Enemy behavior is also very basic. About 99% of your enemies will just move towards you, whether it’s bats they see on the run, mummies, witches, werewolves, or dozens of other monsters. Until they die, the only difference is how fast they move, how much damage they do if they catch you, and how much damage they absorb before they die. They’re effectively heat-seeking missiles with hitpoints, and most don’t shoot their own projectiles at you. This is good because with so many things already on the screen at once, it can quickly become overwhelming. Even the “bosses”, including the wraiths they drop, are almost all just scaled-up versions of regular enemies, with greatly expanded hitpoint pools. There are very few special abilities among them.
But seeing the last 1% would be welcome. You’ll occasionally see swarms of fast-moving bats and ghosts across the screen (they die quickly, but you can shove tougher bad guys in if the map is crowded), very durable Slowly approaching you, giant bony dragons stretch the length of the screen, and occasionally exploding enemies charge at you. It gradually fills with water and is especially difficult to attack unless you have the right weapon. Because of the potential, we can use more of these enemies with unique behaviors.
When you’re just starting out with Vampire Survivors, it’s pretty tough. In early runs he rarely crossed the 10-minute mark. It took quite a few attempts until he was killed by Death himself in half an hour, most of which ended on purpose. But everything from a simple knife that shoots in the direction you’re facing, to garlic that projects a damaging aura around you, to lightning bolts that attack random enemies, and even paired birds will circle you in opposite directions, turning you in a spinning zone. Start shelling (as birds are known to do). Combining complementary ability builds creates a huge amount of replayability and fun. Seeing tons of damage poured out of your character is a satisfying reward for staying alive until you can literally walk. Even when you are out of control, you will still make it through to the end.
When you’re ahead, it’s a lot like the feeling of being high on power pellets when Pac-Man is devouring ghosts, but without those pesky walls… it’s just too long It could go on and if you wait till the end and tap your feet, it all gets boring. On the other hand, if you fall behind the curve, it turns into a barrage-style game of dodging and weaving, desperately hoping that the screen-clearing power-up will drop to give you a few seconds of relief. In that case, you may not be able to catch up before your health is exhausted. A big chance for a leap of power is defeating a boss. This will give him a treasure chest containing 1, 3 or 5 random upgrades of his already earned abilities. (This is also the only chance to unlock advanced versions of the weapon.)
Levels go on forever, so it’s a natural urge to get into a holding pattern of staying in one area and collecting all XP from every enemy you kill. Cash (a permanent progression currency) and other useful drops like health, flamethrowers, and magnets will draw in any XP gems left uncollected on the map. It creates an incentive to move, but I quickly realized that moving in a wide circle gave me the time I needed to pick up, while also allowing me to reclaim what I had missed or saved for later. The only thing that breaks this is that most maps have passive upgrades hidden far away from where you started. , adds a whole other layer of strategy on how to play each map.
vampire survivor screen
As you progress, it’s inevitable that you’ll unlock at least a large chunk of dozens of characters (perhaps even some secret characters), each of which gives a different starting weapon and a small bonus to stats. Just to name a few, Arca LaDonna, who starts with a randomly fired fireball attack and gets a shorter weapon cooldown as he levels up, and my favorite Don Mario, who moves slowly but has the Bible circling him. and gains a bonus to projectile duration. And speed (you can always get wing upgrades to make up for the lack of speed). It can turn into an almost literal buzz saw that cuts. Almost every character’s starting bonuses are earned during rounds, but these can be stacked to create very powerful builds. This is a game that challenges you to throw yourself off balance and seems to congratulate you on your success.
That’s the source of Vampire Survivors’ longevity: Even if I’m completely broken in a build that I literally have to quit when playing in unlockable unlimited mode, nothing can kill me, so I’m still stuck with that build. Many, many achievements. Reach level X on Y character; on N map he reaches 31 minutes. There’s always a hand tied behind your back or another handicap you can give yourself to make it look like you can’t overcome it again. There are so many secrets. He did a great job raising the bar higher and higher every time he thought he had reached the top.