Sometimes you’ll hear about an indie game on a podcast and think, “I should check that out at some point” Inevitably you then forget about it until you see the game again on sale and pick it up wondering why you didn’t play it in the first place. Given Vampire Survivors is currently £2.09 on Steam it was a surprise to see it appear on PC Game Pass as Xbox rarely offers up indies that are normally this cheap. After playing it for an hour though I uninstalled the Game Pass copy, went onto Steam and bought it for myself. Vampire Survivors is definitely worth that.
At first glance Vampire Survivors looks like a retro game with very little to offer and on paper (especially when you look at the controls) you’d think, “why are people so addicted to this?” but on paper cookie clicker is a game where you click the mouse and you can clock up years of gameplay. Vampire Survivors gameplay is simple, walk around with the arrow keys and your weapons automatically fire. You’ll kill monsters, collect gems, level up, gain new weapons and survive as long as possible. 12+ hours in you’ll be still unlocking new characters, items, levels and wanting to play more to get that little bit further.
You’ll quickly realise as you play Vampire Survivors that the simple graphics are designed in such a way due to allow for vast amounts of monsters and projectiles spamming the screen at any time. The combat ramps up quickly and if you don’t spot the flashing stronger boss monsters in the pack you can quickly find a run completely crushed. You’ll be checking the bar at the top for EXP to see how far your next level up is and if it’s worth another rush around the swarms to get a chance at powering up. Deciding if it’s time to explore for more coins or just knuckle down to do more damage for precious gems.
Thanks to its simplistic design everything runs smooth as silk and you’ll find the burst of coins and colours from each treasure still delights even after your 10th run in a row. Exploring the area isn’t simply a survival tactic as each area has procedurally generated objects, lamps, lanterns and torches to get a roll of the dice on coins, healing chicken or extra powerful items that can freeze, explode or give flame breath. Flicking between menus is simple and you can move on from options with space or enter making it a lot more casual despite the lack of an option to rebind the keys.
Vampire Survivors one downside is the music. Although the sounds (and especially treasure chest jingle) are fantastic the music can loop badly. I highly recommend popping in, turning the music down and putting on some of your favourite beats. Like Spider-Man on the PS4 (and soon PC) Vampire Survivors is a great game to chill and enjoy some podcasts to. That’s not to say what’s here is bad, when I first played Vampire Survivors I was humming along to the stage music but after the 100th attempt at a stage the last thing you’ll want to hear is the same melody.
There is a lot to unlock in Vampire Survivors and the extra bosses and hidden treats are everywhere to be found. The Steam achievements are a nice extra to the in-game challenges. It is a grind to unlock some items and there isn’t a huge description for how some things work but with a little trial and error you’ll find the playstyle that suits you. There’s a definite, “just one more go” energy that flows throughout Vampire Survivors that lesser games would have exploited for monetization but there’s none of that here, what you see is what you get.
As someone with 621 hours clocked up on Ragnarok Clicker I try to avoid the genre of games where you don’t have to interact a lot to progress. Vampire Survivors is just the right amount of interaction with action that changes from moment to moment. At times Vampire Survivors can that feel like bullet hell shmups and others simply quiet moments of collecting, waiting for gems to flow in. It’s incredibly fun, superbly polished and frankly one of this years absolute diamond games that nobody seems to have noticed. I highly recommend you give it a go.
8/10 – Surviving the vampires is ridiculously addictive