At the beginning of 2022, a curious little indie game caught the attention of several popular streamers. Following the example of among us, became a viral hit that grabbed headlines and captured the free time of hundreds of thousands of gamers around the world. We talk about Vampire Survivorsthe simple yet addictive game from Italian developer Poncle that has finally left Steam’s Early Access program, making this the perfect time to talk about it in a review.
Yes, we describe this game as ‘simple’, but that doesn’t mean it lacks fun, challenge and depth. In fact, that ‘simplicity’ is his main weapon. It is very easy to learn to play it and that makes it available to all kinds of players. The most casual ‘gamers’ have an excellent way to pass the time here and the most ‘hardcore’ will find a deep rabbit hole full of challenges and secrets.
It’s unusual for a game to choose to cover its YouTube trailer with its number of positive reviews instead of flashy art of its protagonist. He may seem a bit self-centered, but Vampire Survivors he earned that right to pulse. This title was already a playable little gem when it originally came out in late 2021, but throughout its months in ‘early access’ it improved and grew considerably, building a dedicated player base that made it an extremely popular title on Steam. and in one of the most played on Steam Deck.
What is a man… what is Vampire Survivors?
It is difficult to describe this game with a genre. We’ve seen others refer to it as “a reverse bullet hell” or “an active idle game”. There are those who have tried to classify it as a ‘roguelike’ and have even compared it to Devil. It’s a pretty unique game that rejects ranking attempts.
Visually, Vampire Survivors is a retro-style game with characters and enemies clearly inspired by castlevania. In fact, in its first versions the ‘sprites’ were such direct copies of those seen in Konami games that we feared a legal problem. Although we can move the character in all directions, we cannot attack. This is done automatically every so often and based on the weapon you have. The only thing we can do is avoid enemies and position ourselves to do as much damage as possible.
As we take out enemies and level up by taking the crystals they drop, we can add more weapons and perks to our arsenal. Some weapons have unique synergies that allow them to evolve. Creating a good ‘build’ is essential to survive the waves of literally thousands of enemies that come at us at all times. The goal in most levels is to survive for 30 minutes.
As we play, earn coins, and find secrets, we unlock a host of new weapons, levels, and characters—some inspired by other video game franchises, like Bayonetta— who have different abilities and characteristics. This adds a lot of variety and replayability.
“A miserable pile of secrets”
If there is a suitable word to describe Vampire SurvivorsIt is definitely “addictive”. Easy controls, numerous unlockables, and spectacular explosions of color against tons of enemies make every game extremely engaging. Unlocking a new character, weapon, or setting immediately makes us want to try it out to see what new possibilities it opens up. When we don’t beat a level, it encourages us to try again right away to see if we can survive even one more second. The weapon evolutions are so spectacular and powerful that we simply cannot stay without trying them all.
Getting all the items in the game is not an esoteric task. The achievements screen gives us clear indications of what we must do to get each of the 140 unlockables. If this is not enough, we can also find some secrets —like a character that is literally a tree— letting ourselves be carried away by curiosity and a sense of exploration while going through the levels.
Thanks to that we can say that Vampire Survivors offers hundreds of hours of fun despite its low price. It’s one of those games that keeps us hooked without resorting to the trappings of modern games-as-a-service.
“Die, monster. You don’t belong to this world”
If you have followed the evolution of this title throughout these 10 months, you may think that Vampire Survivors it is a game as a service. But it’s not like that. It is true that during this time it received constant updates with new characters, weapons and content, but that was because it was still in development, not because this is the model to which it wants to belong.
Poncle, the developer, has made it clear that version 1.0 is the final version of the game. Although he will continue to work on it—fixing bugs and migrating it to a new engine—he doesn’t intend to continue releasing new content. He doesn’t rule it out entirely, but that’s clearly not his goal.
This has some players disappointed, but we think it’s refreshing. We’ve seen many modern titles fill up unnecessarily with novelties and microtransactions for fear of a public that may declare it “a dead game.” It seems that we forgot the times when we played for fun and not for participating in season passes and completing weekly missions for pure ‘FOMO‘.
Vampire Survivors It doesn’t have microtransactions, it won’t have many more regular updates that add things, and the content it offers in version 1.0 is more than enough.
As if that were not enough, it is a game with a great sense of humor. This is mainly noticeable in the designs of some enemies, the concepts of some characters and in the fun descriptions of the bestiary. These were written by YouTube personality James Stephanie Sterling.
It is a pity that, at least in the 1.0 update, these descriptions disappear if we change the game to the Spanish language.
“Enough talk, take this!”
If there is something negative in Vampire Survivors, is that —depending on the type of enemies and weapon effects that are on the screen at a given moment— the legibility of the action can be affected, especially towards the end of a particularly intense game. It can be annoying to lose because we lose sight of our character for a second, but it’s not something that has happened to us often. It can also be criticized that it does not make it clear that it is impossible to survive if we do not evolve at least one weapon in the game, but this can be discovered by playing organically.
We have also found a couple of bugs in version 1.0, such as some points on the stage where the character can get stuck or graphics that get corrupted for a few seconds. Nothing serious and that will surely be corrected through patches.
In conclusion, this is a must play game. In the midst of so many games packed with systems and mechanics that sometimes turn off the most casual gamers, Vampire Survivors it offers a lot of fun and depth with hardly any button presses.
You can find this game on Steam with a price of less than 10,000 Colombian pesos. We recommend that you take a look. We assure you that you will not want to stop playing it.
It’s been a long time since a game gripped us as hard as Vampire Survivors. Don’t let its simplicity and retro style fool you, because this is a title that offers hundreds of hours of fun for a very low price. Once they start, they won’t want to stop playing it. Who would have thought that simply moving between enemies, with no control over our attacks, could become so addictive?
Review made with a digital copy from Vampire Survivors for PC (Steam) acquired by the editor.