For whatever reason I just can’t seem to get into the genre of Roguelikes which is too bad because there are tons of great indie games out there like Enter the Gungeon or Dead Cells that I tried to play but bounced off hard.

I think the main issue has to do with feeling like I’ve wasted my time on a run and having nothing to show for it. If there’s some kind of experience, currency or permanent progress I carry forward even after a failed run then it’s not soo bad.

But I absolutely hate getting 15 minutes into a run, realizing that because of the luck of the draw this just isn’t going to end well and then having to decide if I want to tough it out for another 10 minutes until I die or just start over.

I am pleased to say though that I had a fantastic time with Vampire Survivors and it’s the first time this genre has finally clicked with me.

Lets start out taking a look at the trailer:

I kept hearing people on gaming podcasts talk about this game and had no idea what it was but I’m super glad I checked it out.


Vampire Survivors screenshot level 1

The Gameplay

The gameplay in Vampire Survivors is surprisingly simple but at the same time incredibly fun and addictive.

You select your character (you start out with just one and unlock more) which starts with it’s own unique weapon, stats and abilities.

Then you’re put in a top down area where various monsters start coming towards you will your weapon fires out projectiles.

You have to dodge the enemies as long as you can while your weapon destroys the enemies.

When an enemy dies it drops a gem which you then pick up. The gems work as experience and every time you level up you get to unlock a new weapon, a new passive ability or upgrade something you already have.

Every weapon works a bit differently. Garlic for example creates a ring around your character that damages enemies and pushes them back. Knifes throw knifes in a straight line in the direction your character is facing. The Axe throws axes up and out in an arc. The Lightening Ring fires lightning bolds at random enemies.

Overall there are tons of different weapons and you can evolve them into better more powerful ones if you max them out and combine them with the right passive ability.

You get a total of 6 weapons and 6 passive abilities and you can combine them in some pretty cool ways. As you level them up you get more and more projectiles and by the end of a run you’re firing out all kinds of different things essentially creating a bullet hell for the enemies wiping them out as then run towards you.

Your goal is to survive as long as possible. As you’re leveling up your weapons the enemies are getting stronger and increasing in number. Eventually if you hit 30 minutes the Grim Reaper will show up and probably kill you and that counts as completing the run.

What I especially like about this game (and it’s a problem I’ve had with other Roguelikes) is that you’re constantly unlocking things, new weapons, characters, abilities and gaining gold from each run that can be used to purchase permanent upgrades for all characters.

So even though I’d die a lot, especially early on I never felt like I was wasting my time and I really appreciated that.


Haunted library screenshot

The Graphics

The graphics here are super simple, it is an indie game after all. It’s basically just 2D sprites over 2D backgrounds but the sprite work is pretty fantastic.

There are a ton of different characters to unlock and they all have excellent sprites as do the monsters. Monster-wise you have all kinds of standard horror-type monsters like ghosts, werewolves, bats, goblins, and all kinds of other monsters that you’d expect to see in something like a Castlevania game.

The monsters all have excellent designs as well.

By the end of a run you’ll have a bunch of weapons all maxed out firing hundreds of projectiles. There’s a ton of stuff going on the screen at any one time and I personally never noticed any slowdown.

I also never experienced a single crash or glitch playing the PC version on Steam.


Lots of projectiles

Sound and Music

The music is pretty catchy for a game like this so I have no complaints there but it wasn’t so amazing that I had to rush out and get the soundtrack.

A lot of it felt Castlevania inspired which is perfect for a game like this.

The sound effects are excellent though. Each weapon sounds different and makes a very satisfying sound as its projectiles hit enemies. Everything from hitting an enemy with an axe to roasting it with a fireball sounds great.

There’s also a lot of sort of casino-esque sounds as well as you level up. I know what those sounds are doing and they work and sound great.


Santa Water creating damaging zones

The Mobile Port

There’s a free mobile port of this game and that’s actually what I tried first just to see what this game was all about. If you’re on the fence at all you can’t go wrong trying the mobile version out since it’s free.

Apparently it’s the same as the full version on PC and consoles but it didn’t quite feel that way to me. It felt like certain features were missing.

When you die you can watch an ad to revive or get some bonus gold and I really didn’t like that.

But there are some interesting interviews with the creators of the game where they talk about how they wanted to make a mobile port but no company out there would help them because they didn’t want to use a predatory pricing model.

So I absolutely appreciate that and aside from those ads I mentioned there are no lootboxes, no microtransactions or anything like that which is awesome.


Vampire Survivors collection screen

In Conclusion

Overall I was kind of blown away by this simple looking game. I had way more fun than I expected and actually 100% completed it with all the achievements which isn’t something I normally do these days.

It took me about 41 hours to finally complete and unlock everything and I loved every minute of it.

The game costs just a few bucks on Steam and I think the DLC is only a dollar or two as well right now.

Definitely give it a try, even if it’s not something you’d think you’d normally like. It’s not something I would have thought I’d get super into but I did and for a few bucks you’ll absolutely get more than your money’s worth out of Vampire Survivors.

Images are from the Vampire Survivors page on Steam used under Fair Use.