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Backlog Impressions | Vampire Survivors

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What if you took a well established genre and turned its mechanics on its head? Let’s say for example, you took a shoot ‘em up and transformed the player into a manic bullet emitting badass, or maybe you take a twin-stick shooter and remove the word “twin”. Then just for a laugh, you make it a rogue-lite heavily inspired by the aesthetics of the classic world of Castlevania.

Well, if that all sounds good to you then poncle has your back with their time survival, rogue-lite, dark fantasy,  companionless-stick shooter – Vampire Survivors! Here’s how our left analog stick fared:

At first glance you may be led astray by Vampire Survivors’ simplistic concept and slight “canned assets” look. I mean if you didn’t know better, you’d swear that many of the icons and sprites were ripped directly from a variety of Castlevanias and hastily thrown together into Game Maker. I’m not going to lie, the fact that the gameplay boils down to you only being able to control where your character moves while being swarmed by enemies didn’t exactly sell me either. Then I played it.

You see, for a game that didn’t seem like much on the surface, it actually hid a great deal of subtlety, balance, and pure addiction inducing fun! It was everything from the variety of weapons and items you can collect, to figuring out which of the said pieces of equipment work well together, to discovering secrets that make you the OP video game lord of destruction you always dreamt of being. I know I already said it, but it’s just so dang fun! And that’s before you even take into consideration the unlockable characters and the amazing jingle that plays when you open a treasure chest.

What really stood out to me though, was how the gradual increase of your power balanced so well with the gradual increase of the game’s difficulty as you survived longer and longer. Plus, its pick up and play nature paired with its simple single-stick controls, makes its barrier to entry low and its accessibility extremely high – which is always good in my book.

Although Vampire Survivors is technically in Early Access you never really run into any walls or hard stops that make it feel unfinished. In fact, I’d say that for the most part it’s “feature complete” since you are able to experience pretty much everything it has to offer. Including two distinct levels, twelve unlockable characters, 20+ weapons and upgrades, as well as over 20 achievements. We had no problem sinking 10+ hours into it and fully intend to keep going!

Now, with that in mind, poncle has stated that what’s available now is only about 60% of the total features in the planned final version. Which I’m assuming will include more levels, more characters, and more gameplay modes. However, for the price it’s going for as of the writing of the review ($2.99) it’s more than worth a shot. Plus, with each new set of content updates, we’re given more excuses to jump back in and play it all over again!

Vampire Survivors is an excellent example of a game that’s greater than the sum of its parts, and I have no doubt that as it gets closer and closer to release it’ll only get better. I do wish that its art direction was a bit more unique, but in no way does it hinder the fun you’ll have, and you can bet we’ll be diving back when all of those fancy new features come to light. Meaning we fully plan to keep a close eye on any and all future developments!

If you’re interested in checking out Vampire Survivors as it makes its development journey, you can find it on Steam Early Access, or itch.io.