Thirty minutes. That’s the length you must survive in this new early access roguelite game called Vampire Survivors. Even if you do not like roguelites (I don’t), this one is worth checking out for its simple but enjoyable gameplay loop.
First, you choose a character. Initially, you only have a selection of one character, but more are soon unlocked through achievements and spending gold to unlock them. Each character has a different starter weapon and slightly altered stats. For example, Porta has a permanent +30% range bonus. Then, you select your map, and after that, you’re ready to go.
It is time to start walking. In Vampire Survivors, you don’t do anything but walk around. All the weapons are essentially auto-firing with their unique cooldowns and abilities. None of the enemies attack from a distance, and instead, they try to surround and overwhelm you. Regular enemies only drop experience, while boss and champion type enemies may drop chests that contain one, three or five upgrades to items you already have. That said, accumulating experience as fast as possible is just as essential to your success as the chests.
As you walk around and level up, you choose one from three to four upgrades or new items. These can be either accessories or weapons. There are six slots available for both types per run, and currently no possibility to drop any of them, so you must choose wisely. Most of the weapons have upgraded versions, which are almost a must-have for the weapon to become excellent. They require a specific accessory (any level), max rank weapon and finally, a chest drop to become fully upgraded. The needed accessories are mostly unlocked through levelling a weapon to level seven during one run, and then it’s available for the next run and beyond.
After a run, you can use any acquired gold to purchase permanent power-ups (or new characters) for future runs, like +1 projectiles, more gold earned, hit point regeneration and more. Some achievements also unlock important upgrades like the ability to re-roll level-up selection.
The worst aspects of the game I attribute to the game being in very early access. Some weapons feel almost mandatory for you to survive the whole 30 minutes, namely the King Bible and its upgraded form. In general, the weapon pool is still quite limited so, once you “solve” the game, it’s easy to fall back on picking the same few weapons again and again. The luck factor can also be real, and you just sometimes don’t get the item you REALLY want in what feels like forever, or you’re not just getting any upgrades on desired weapons, which can easily result in a game over. However, thanks to upgrades like re-rolls getting implemented, this is likely to become a non-issue later in development.
The simple gameplay loop is what I love about this game, especially the fact that I don’t have to click my wrists to death like in many other monster annihilation games. While the game does have some semblance of depth in weapons scaling from specific stats, it’s easy to learn it all by yourself. Also, the fact that the runs end at a maximum of 30 minutes (unless you got crazy strategies to tackle Death) keeps you from playing too much in one go. In conclusion, I’ll borrow the simple words of Todd Howard: all of this just works.
The game’s cost is currently mere 2,39€, which is due to go up as development progresses, making this game an easy recommendation for everyone to try out.
Release date: 17.12.2021 (Early Access)
Platform: PC (Steam)