Vampire Survivors test: the pleasure of addiction

Believe it or not: Vampire Survivors is one of the best games released in recent months. Immediate pleasure, and a little guilty too.

vampire survivors has long been a source of frustration for me. I heard about it everywhere, without being able to play it right away. I had to wait to receive the Steam Deck — or a PC — so you can finally try it out. And from my first game, I understood why there is a craze around this video game released in total anonymity in 2021 (at the time in early access). vampire survivors, it is both immediate and guilty pleasure. A shot of ” dopamine to quote my colleague Cassim Ketfi – who never failed to sell it to me during our many daily exchanges.

The very origin of vampire survivors in fact one of the beautiful stories of this year 2022. This primarily graphic tribute to the old Castlevania was developed by one person — Luca Galante — with a worthy goal: to build a small community of gamers and reward it with regular content. Today, the success of vampire survivors, which cost three pieces of string, allows him to realize his dream (to create his own studio). A success story hidden behind a rudimentary, but terribly addictive video game. For less than 5 €, the equivalent of a coffee that is much too sweet for your health at Starbucks, you would be wrong to deprive yourself of it.

What do you mean, you don’t see anything? // Source: Xbox Screenshot

vampire survivors will make you chain the parts

Beware of traps

If the different levels look basic, be careful not to find yourself stuck stupidly (against a wall for example).

The gameplay of vampire survivors is so simple that even my grandmother could play it without any worries. This is one of its main strengths. The objective is clear: survive against waves of enemies. Each game begins calmly then, as time goes by, the screen becomes more and more flooded. The key to victory does not lie in the use of weapons, which activate automatically, but in movement. Concretely, you move to avoid attackers, you collect rubies to gain experience (very satisfying activity) and, at each level gained, you select a new piece for your arsenal (a weapon, a passive bonus or an improvement) . The power, which increases exponentially, makes it possible to respond to an increasingly insistent threat. From a visual point of view, vampire survivors is broke due to its dated pixel rendering and outdated interface. But his ease in bringing together dozens and dozens of elements at the same time without flinching borders on respect.

We chain the parties, as we would with shots of alcohol or Schokobons

You might think that you don’t have to do much in vampire survivors. In reality, you have to constantly stay on the alert. You don’t have a life bar large enough to survive a sudden ambush. At the same time, you quickly understand that you have to be smart in the choices to be made at each point of progression. Should I add a weapon to my arsenal? Or is it better to opt for this bonus which accelerates the triggering of my weapons? These questions take on even more meaning when you discover that it is possible to unlock super-weapons by combining the right objects (to force to chain the attempts). Moreover, not all weapons are created equal, both at a distance and in melee (tip: long live the garlic).

In short, we discover a rather incredible potential behind appearances of extreme accessibility. We first feel very powerful in vampire survivors then, after 10/15 minutes, you are quickly overworked. The victory, validated by Death after half an hour in the classic levels, is downright long overdue. We first think that vampire survivors is as simple to understand as it is impossible to complete. So we chain the games, as we would with shots of alcohol or Schokobons from the Kinder brand, until the first triumph. Addictive, vampire survivors knows how to reward tenacious spirits, which will eventually detect the cogs that allow them to run over opponents. On screen, it’s impressive: we are witnessing a great show, where fireworks would be replaced by superpowers. At the top right, the death counter climbs to peaks, with four or even five digits. It’s exhilarating.

Vampire Survivors // Source: Capture Xbox
Chests allow you to obtain valuable resources // Source: Capture Xbox

To make you want to continue the adventure, vampire survivors takes over mechanics of the rogue-lite genre. We constantly collect gold coins, which are used to buy permanent improvements or to complete the cast of characters (who each have strengths and weaknesses). From then on, as in the masterpiece Hades, we never have this impression of playing for nothing. At worst, we will have appreciated having annihilated hundreds of vile creatures in a very short period of time. There is a bonus of a slew of successes to be obtained – a point that will appeal to perfectionists. vampire survivors finally offers various options to spice up the games, with regularly updated content (there is even a first extension, sold for less than €2).

First launched on PC and then on Xbox (it can be found in the subscription Xbox Game Pass), vampire survivors is also available on iOS and Android. Free on mobile platforms, it offers the same experience with one exception: the touch controls offer much less flexibility and precision. Therefore, the experiment is a bit more complicated to master. This version is therefore similar to a good loss leader to get an overview of vampire survivors. We try it on our smartphone, we understand that we are going to be addicted and we end up playing it on a PC or a console. Or we never buy it, to preserve our mental health and our social life.

The verdict

We could not end the year 2022 without writing a test of Vampire Survivors, a real phenomenon which knew anonymity before a deserved enthusiasm. Finally, it is a trajectory that marvelously marries the loop of its gameplay. Where we start small in the face of bats, before ending overpowered, assailed from all sides by the worst creatures of fantasy folklore.

And behind its simplistic approach, Vampire Survivors has the audacity to hide an addictive wealth. We are then surprised to chain the parts, after having promised ourselves that we would never touch it, or never again. For less than 5 € (or even 0 € on iOS and Android), this little game without any real pretensions or assumed ambitions really has everything it needs.

Vampire Survivors test: the pleasure of addiction