Vampire Survivors – Review?

Two things first:

This is an early access game, so it is not complete. The current version is 0.9.0, so it might be getting close to release and I think most of the content is there, except that there hasn’t been a vampire anywhere, but I’m not sure that will even happen.

This is not a good game in my view, but I will still argue for it. Weird, huh.

The basic idea of the game is that you play a character, who is always at the center of the map. You are constantly being attacked by a variety of creatures and in order to fight back, you have a weapon and as the game progresses, weapons and other tools to either make your weapons better or the curse you, which means more enemies, which also become faster and tougher (this can be, however, good for you in various ways).

The game apparently takes place in a somewhat absurd version of Italy. There is probably more backstory here, but if there is, I don’t think it matters very much.

You don’t have much control over the weapons. Some will hit the closest enemy, some will do area damage, some will just hit randomly. Generally you want some sort of combination of these. You learn quite quickly which of them work best, but I do think there is some room for personal preferance. I mean, I still mostly play one of the basic characters, who also uses a very basic Magic Wand.

There’s plenty of characters, who do play quite differently even though most of them don’t have any weird abilities. The differences have been achieved by just tinkering with the existing attributes all characters have. (There’s also a bunch of “secret” characters, some of which are very hard to get.)

I couldn’t get screenshots, so you won’t be getting any. The Steam screenshot functionality does work with other games, so maybe it has been disabled for this game. I don’t know. Anyhow, based on the credits, much of the graphics are from various graphics packs, so they are nothing special. They don’t look quite 8-bit, but more like 16-bit instead.

What does tend to happen after a while, especially at the end of the runs, is visual pollution. You can’t really tell much from the screen. Your weapons just obfuscate pretty much everything. This is especially bad, when you are trying to look for something on the ground, which isn’t pointed out by an arrow, because you often just have to resort to systematically walking through the area hoping to hit what you are looking for.

Each run has a time limit of either 15 or 30 minutes, at which point a death of some color appears, which you can still beat, after which the White Death appears and kills you right when it catches up with you. There are currently five stages and five challenges / bonus maps. Each does have some goals to them, like saving people, who become characters, but after a time, the point becomes just to advance your character(s) by collecting money and gold eggs, which give you permanent bonuses (otherwise you always start with a vanilla character at the start of each run).

It is pretty simple game and there isn’t much to learn, but you can probably optimize the way you approach the game pretty endlessly. However, it does become pretty boring after a while, and yet, I keep playing it.

Why? Because it is kind of simple and boring. Okay, that might require an explanation.

I’m a teacher and this means that I have a long summer break. Eight weeks, in fact. The weather has not been optimal this summer. At first, it was too hot to be outside for long periods of time and now it has been raining constantly, so I’ve spent a lot of time inside. On the other hand, I have been able to use this time for writing and, more pertinently to the subject at hand, going through the backlog of video essays that has been accumulating for the ten previous months.

I’m just not good at simply sitting still and watching a video. I’d much rather do something else at the same time and there is an upper limit to how much cooking and cleaning you can do, so I need something that doesn’t require too much of my attention, because I still want to be aware of what’s going on in the videos. So, that’s where Vampire Survivors fits in. I might have bought it because it doesn’t cost very much, but I’ve been playing it for a while, because you don’t need to do much to play it. With a right build, you can actually just leave the character to just stand and everything will be fine, as you don’t even need to see the enemies before they just die.

Okay, I get that this might not be high praise for a game, but you should also take into account that I have thusfar played almost a hundred hours of it. That’s pretty good for a game that as of this writing costs 2.39€. While my approach might now be very different, the game does offer enough challenge early on to be worth that price.

But again, despite having 98% positive on Steam, I wouldn’t still call the game “good”.

1 thought on “Vampire Survivors – Review?

  1. Additional notes:

    I hate the ending of each run. You die and then you have a bunch of revives, which means that there’s an animation and sound effects and you have to confirm the revive. You get more money for each of these, but at best I’ve had to watch and confirm this 13 times. Doesn’t feel very meaningful part of the game, especially since it happens at the end of each run.

    The amount of visual pollution is so bad that regularly the game can’t keep up with collisions. This means that I can freely walk through walls I’m not supposed to be able to walk through.

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