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Vampire Survivors Review

Vampire Survivors is the creation of a single man, Luca Galante, who’s since had to quit his day job and ask friends and family to help out because the game has become such a big hit. With 98% of over 125,000 reviews all “overwhelmingly positive” on Steam, it’s an indie smash hit that’s got a lot of fans, and now it’s had a full release on Xbox, it’s available on gamepass or for only £3.99.

So what is Vampire Survivors… A single stick shooter, with automated fire, where you collect and level up a handful of weapons and power-ups, trying to survive until the end of the timed stage. The closest gameplay comparison would be the fantastic Risk of Rain 1 or 2, but rather than the side-scrolling Risk of Rain or its 3D third-person sequel, it’s a top down view that feels more similar to the old Gauntlet arcade games.

Throughout each stage you’ll face hundreds and eventually thousands of enemies, as you scramble to collect as many XP gems and coins, while trying to stay away from the increasingly tough hordes of enemies.

Each time you level up, you’ll get a choice of weapons or power-ups, that you can add to your arsenal or improve what you’ve already collected.

There’s a heavy dose of RNG at play, but once you’ve picked up 6 weapons and 6 power-ups, you’ll only get those options for the duration of the game, meaning you’re never wasting items, and there’s always a gentle push to try out a slightly new approach.

I first played Vampire Survivors a few nights ago, and after reading it’s addictive, I played a good hour before heading to bed, soon after waking up, I decided I’d stream it for an hour, and 4 hours later, I was still playing, ever since I’ve struggled to put it down, even after completing the main levels and working through many of the bonus levels, I’m still unlocking new things with plenty more secrets left to discover.

There’s a constant sense of progression thanks to the rogue-lite structure, where you’ll gain gold coins for each playthrough and these can be used for a handful of power-ups that will remain for all future games. These aren’t gamebreaking enough to require hours before you’re getting anywhere, but there’s a definite boost when you’re starting off firing an extra projectile or collecting xp gems from just a few steps further away.

As you’ll see from the screenshots, it all looks a bit pants, and I’ve seen more than a few people completely disregard Vampire Survivors because of its appearance, and while graphics are important to a degree, there comes a point when they honestly don’t matter in the slightest, when there’s literally hundreds of enemies filling the screen and you’ve got flying axes, spinning scythes and a ring of killer bibles holding them all at bay, the graphical fidelity is the last thing on your mind, and the main concern is how smoothly it runs and even with so many enemies that I couldn’t even see the floor, I never had a single noticeable slow-down or stutter, the gameplay remained smooth throughout.

While enduring the onslaught of hundreds and thousands of monsters, there’s a point where the game just clicks, you have that one great run, where you manage to evolve a few weapons, and the enemies staggering towards you haven’t got a chance, you maybe complete that stage you had so much trouble with, and yet you want to do it again, try a new weapon combo, a different character, all of which have their own starting weapon and stat changes which gives plenty of reason to explore each, and the masochists might even choose to limit their weapons, curse their character, or turn on hyper mode for a real challenge.

Audio is another area that we don’t expect much from, there’s a few grunts, groans and crunches, but overall it’s background noise to the constant mayhem you’re trying to survive, there’s background music which is reminiscent of the Castlevania art style,

But there’s something special about Vampire Survivors, maybe it’s the fact that you can literally play the entire game with one hand, especially if pro-pad owners shift the A button to a rear bumper, it feels somewhat relaxed but at the same time, complete anarchy and random enough to keep it interesting, but never to the point it feels unfair or unbalanced.

As mentioned earlier there’s plenty to unlock, with over 100 achievements, each tied to an in-game task, most of which will unlock something, whether it’s a new character, a new level or some randomozo tarot cards that can be used to mutate your current and future games.

Sure there are some weapons you’ll prefer, I usually try to get and upgrade the Bible’s as soon as possible, so rather than a single Bible rotating around me once every 4 or 5 seconds, I end up with an evolved ring of a dozen deadly books constantly circling my character, yet one another playthrough, I ended up concentrating on twin pistols and a pair of rainbow doves from above, that would drop a barrage of missiles around my location.
But working to evolve each weapon is a worthwhile venture, as many weapons like the Pentagram that clears the screen every minute or two, soon evolves into a blast every 30 seconds that also pulls all nearby XP gems towards your character.
Those knives might seem a little weak when you’re flinging one every second, but evovlve them to a constant barage and anything standing in your way is going down fast.

While there are only a handful of main stages initially, each play still feels different, and you’ll want to visit each one to find secret relics which will usually unlock features such as being able to view the map on the pause screen as well as a few surprises, and then there are the coffins, relics, and plenty of other things to unlock as you progress.

Doing extremely well on a level, whether that’s hitting level 80, or reaching the (usually 30 minutes) time limit, will start to unlock even more stuff, in total there are 5 main stages, each of which offers its own challenges, whether it’s sticking to a single plane, obstacles, or the fact they’re so open, enemies are literally coming from all around.

Vampire Survivors exceeds expectations, at only £3.99 it’s amazing value for money, and will last many hours longer than you expect, screenshots might not look the best, but when you’re playing the game, those edgy graphics soon merge into a screen of complete mayhem.

There are some negatives to highlight, but they’re definitely few and far between.
Besides those edgy graphics, sometimes (as shown in the screenshot above) you literally an’t see what’s happening, and you’re only choice is to remain stationary, and hope you notice the hit-points of any strong enemy resistant enough to wall through your attacks, there’s been a few times, I’ve taken my eye off the screen for a few seconds and I’m suddenly dead.
There are also a lot of unlocks which aren’t well described, some will head to google to find a guide on how to find said item, but I’d love to see something in the game like the clue to unlocking another secret character after defeating the final boss.

Vampire Survivors

Gameplay
90%
Engagement
95%
Graphics
65%
Sound
70%
Value
100%

Summary

Vampire survivors is a fun, engaging game that’s highly recommended.
Sound and especially graphics could be a lot better, but for a small indie game, that’s only £3.99 (or free on Gamepass) it’s otherwise pretty close to perfection.

84%

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