Vampire Survivors is a new roguelite from publisher Poncle and it is overall pretty damn good.
The gameplay loop is basically a one-stick survival game where you are in an endless zone being swarmed with endless enemies. When you first give it a go you might make it five minutes or so before being overwhelmed and dying (quite quickly). However, once you are back at the main menu you can spend some of the gold you scraped up to purchase permanent upgrades or unlock new characters.
The progression is meaningful here. You won’t go from losing to winning in an instant, but the game provides you with enough tools to where you’ll be decimating thousands of enemies per 30-minute run. At 30 minutes (unless you are in the endless mode) death arrives and kicks your butt. Can you defeat this difficult monster?
The graphics are retro, the sprites are simple, and the levels are basic. I know those all sound like negative comments but they are not. The game is awesome and even the simple graphics give a lot of unique gameplay. The numerous weapons (you can hold and use 6 at a time) all have fun evolutions and powerups. It is hard to describe how awesome the game is once you start stomping enemies.
The game gives a nearly endless wave of positive feedback as you get stronger, kill more, get cooler stuff, and repeat. The whole thing is simply a treat.
The best part of this game for me was how the progression worked. Once I began beating the levels new challenges organically unlocked. Once money seemed to no longer have a purpose the option to buy permanent powerups unlocked. Once the music became a little tiring I had the option to change it up. The pacing of the game was nearly flawless, save one time where I skipped a step and found myself confused on how to advance.
The game runs quite well. I didn’t have a single crash, though the kill counter would sometimes freeze (which is relevant for some challenges). I heard this issue was patched but it lingered on the XBOX (my system). The good news is that this glitch tended to occur early in the run and only when using the Pentagram powerup, so keep that in mind.
Jim Stephanie Sterling did a lot of the writing and story design for this game and I think they did a great job. If you don’t watch their channel on YouTube it is a great source of the business side of gaming, and the ugly side of business. The game balances between developing lore, pulling from cultural monsters, and embracing camp horror humor. I know most folks don’t read through the bestiary but it does have the same wit as the rest of the game.
In a lot of ways, this might be my favorite game of 2022. It simply does just about everything right while being a blast to play. Roguelites might be my favorite genre of game to play, and this one is top shelf. My hat is off to Poncle and I hope they continue to make great games. There has already been a lot of content added to Vampire Survivors, and I expect there will be more.
The entry price is low. The fun factor is extremely high. What else do you need?