Ever play a game that’s so simple that it seems absurd that it takes up all of your time? Vampire Survivors is just that.
I went to give it a 10 minute test before I started to plan writing this quick look. Wanted to get a quick idea what it was about so I could think about how to approach the piece. 45 minutes later, I’ve unlocked a boatload of achievement, I’ve got new weapons in my arsenal, and all I want to do it “quickly” play Vampire Survivors.
Vampire Survivors describes itself as “a gothic horror casual game with rogue-lite elements, where your choices can allow you to quickly snowball against the hundreds of monsters that get thrown at you”.
I get that within the first few minutes of play.
You’re a hero out to survive hoards of creepy enemies, starting with bats, working up through skeletons, ghosts and a host of other creatures. But it’s top-down, in a single map in a pixel-art style.
Kill creatures, earn gems, level-up. Then as you level-up you unlock upgrades and new weapons/attacks.
Simple! And yes, Vampire Survivors is truly very simple. You don’t even fire your weapons and abilities. Everything is auto-fired. You simply have to move around this one arena, avoiding the enemies.
Without the requirement to do anything other than move, Vampire Survivors just throws enemies at you in droves. Increasing in difficulty as you go.
Starting out with perhaps a single whip, you quickly earn upgrades and create new builds for your run through the game. It has the roguelike feel to it. You make run after run, getting further through, unlocking new items, ready to use in your next run.
You’re left at the behest of the game as it gives you random upgrades to choose from at the point of levelling up. So you can’t guarantee how you’re going to get to the end of a run. Vampire Survivors feels like it’s always empowering you, but working against you at the same time.
Homing magic, fireballs, a dove that fires missiles. Yep it’s all there! Garlic creates a safe space around you to help damaged enemies before they hit you. Useful when you can’t fire your weapons of your own accord.
All you have to do is survive. You just need to learn the weapons and upgrades and try to do the best you can with what’s available during your run.
That’s all there is to it.
Vampire Survivors is in early access on Steam, but it feels like a mostly complete concept. Short of adding new enemies, weapons and arenas, I don’t know that it feels like anything is missing, which is cool.
It also means that you can pick it up for just over £2.00!
Two quid to zone-out, let your mind wander and just move around a map whilst the game does everything else for you. I’m not always one for games like this, but it’s scratching an itch I wasn’t aware of.
I have to say, my first run saw swarms of bats coming in here and there and it threw me, because I thought I’d understood the pacing of Vampire Survivors. I was wrong.
This is absolutely a game to just chill-out with, but in the sense that Tetris is, too. The pace picks up as you go, and whilst the mechanics are simple, the execution towards finishing it requires a touch of finesse.
Movement management. Just like Tetris, but nothing like Tetris at all.
Whips, Magic and hoardes of creatures. That’s some weird autobiography title right there!
Worth my money?
Is Vampire Survivors worth £2.00? Absolutely! It’s wonderful.
A time-suck of a game that’s just good fun. Simple, fun, largely mindless and less than a cup of coffee at retail in Steam.
Indie games aren’t always my bag, and I try to come to them more often. Vampire Survivors is a game that makes me regret not looking into other early access games more often.
Not every game has to be Horizon Forbidden West, or Elden Ring. Sometimes being simple, fun and solid in what it’s sets out to achieve, is more important than being the biggest or best game in the market.
I’ll personally buy it for the first person to comment on this piece. If you’ve read this far, what have you got to lose?
Vampire Survivors is highly-recommended by us at ninjarefinery.com and I look forward to seeing how it grows. If it stays like this forever, it’s already more than worth the