Vampire Survivors Review 2022


Vampire Survivors Review 2022

The thrill of a bullet hell-type shooter is the last-minute escape — the act of careening through enemy hordes, a hair’s breadth away from disaster. Vampire Survivors takes that joy and fuses it with the intoxicating power creep of roguelikes such as HadesReturnal, or Dead Cells.



The result is chocolate and peanut butter: A deliciously perfect pairing that seems all but self-evident once you’ve tried it, but also the sort of treat that’s possible to fill up on fast. The story of Vampire Survivors is that there is no story. You’re … well, you’re not a vampire. Actually, I don’t know that there are any vampires here at all. There are lots of bats. There’s also a generous number of mummies. But none of this matters.

The point is that beasts, with increasing number and ferocity, are coming to devour your 8-bit weakling who, if they’re smart, will immediately run away. What begins as a few errant, shambling skeletons quickly turns into an undead Hard Day’s Night, with hundreds of creatures following your every zig and zag across the infinitely expanding map.

Sometimes the simplest, silliest games sink their hooks into me don’t let go even while bigger, flashier options cry out for my attention. That was what happened with Vampire Survivors, a weird little game that started blowing up on the Steam charts despite looking very much like the hundreds of other tiny pixel-art games that come and go every day.

There’s no sugarcoating it: Vampire Survivors sure doesn’t look like much. The pixelated 2D character sprites seem torn out of a generic and long-forgotten fantasy game from the early '90s and are barely animated, with the most interesting part being that some of them do have a nice disintegration effect as they die. It’s as simple as it can possibly be while managing to stay as readable as it needs to be so that you can mostly tell what’s going on during the utter chaos that’s about to ensue.



Gameplay and enemies:

What’s novel about it is very simple: it’s basically a twin-stick shooter that does away with the right stick, leaving you to worry exclusively about positioning yourself while it takes care of firing your ever-escalating collection of weapons at the thousands of increasingly spongy enemies that flood the screen. It’s a clever idea that works for a lot longer than I expected before its challenge petered out, and one that feels like it has a lot of room to grow.

Enemies are also basic in their behaviors: whether they’re the bats you see at the beginning of a run or the mummies, witches, werewolves, and dozens of other monster types that arrive later, about 99% of them just move toward you until they die. In fact, the only distinguishing factors other than how they look is their speed and how much damage they absorb before evaporating.



They’re effectively just heat-seeking projectiles with hitpoints, and most are little more than fodder. (None of them shoot at you, which is good because there are so many it would probably become overwhelming quickly.) Even the “bosses” are almost all straight-up enlarged versions of normal enemies with bigger pools of hitpoints – there’s not a special ability among them.

The 11 different playable characters that unlock offer at least some additional replayabilty, giving you different starting weapons and slight bonuses to stats. Just to name a few, there’s Arca Ladonna, who starts with a randomly firing fireball attack and whose weapon cooldown times reduce as she levels up, or my favorite, Donmario, an elderly priest who moves slowly but starts with Bibles orbiting him and gets major bonuses to projectile duration and speed.

Properly upgraded, he can turn into an almost literal buzz saw that cuts through crowds of enemies with ease. Nearly all of the characters’ starting bonuses are things you can pick up during a round, but if you stack them together it can create some crazy-powerful builds.



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