Impressions: Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors is the relatively recently – a few months – released indie game from Poncle. It is a bullet hell game, or possibly a reverse bullet hell? Instead of dodging a lot of bullets, you are shooting them, but dodging enemies as you would in a bullet hell. Honestly, it is pretty delightful. It was released on Game Pass, and after watching my husband play a bit, I decided to try it, even though I am not the best at bullet hell games.

So Vampire Survivors starts with one stage and a few characters to choose from. Each character comes with their own weapon type. You don’t fire your weapon, it does so automatically. Now as the stage starts, enemies start to slowly surround you, and you have to dodge while attacking them. The longer you play, the more there are and the harder it is to dodge. You have to survive, kill enemies, and get upgrades. This is pretty standard for bullet hell games. The action is constantly happening and will continue to grow and grow the longer you play. As you master the game and survive longer, you’ll reach points where everything becomes just pure chaos, once again pretty standard for bullet hell games.

The more you play, the more characters you unlock, which in turn unlocks more weapons and accessories. You also learn which things combine with each other so that if you max them out in a round, they will then evolve. There are also special items to collect and enemies to fight on each map. So it’s just grinding, upgrading, surviving a little longer, unlocking more, lather, rinse, repeat.

All in all, it’s just a whole lot of fun and pretty wild. The game is challenging. I am not great at bullet hell games, I think it’s the dodging? In fact, the reason I never got on the Undertale hype train is I could never finish it…. However, for all I find Vampire Survivors hard, it still feels pretty approachable to me. As you play, you definitely learn which combinations work best for you and start to understand the flow. You also can take permanent upgrades that make the game a bit easier, although the game never gets “easy,” as it were. It does become more natural, and you will find yourself progressing more as you understand it. But each new character, map, etc., will put you right back in “okay, this is still a bit challenging.”

The obvious caveat of different skill levels will mean different challenge level. My husband has an easier time and has progressed much further than me.

I also like that this game has a certain “pick-up” quality to it. By that, I mean it’s a decent game to just plug in for like an hour or so every once in a while. You do need to overall invest some time to learn the game, but whereas when I first started playing, I invested a lot of time in each session, now I play an hour or two here or there and am progressing with the (exceptionally long) achievement list.

The game also looks and sounds fun. It is for sure trying to give retro vibes, and it succeeds. There is a point, though, where you might get a little bored as you are going to be doing the same maps over and over. However, I just love the bright chaos the game turns into. It becomes bonkers at certain points with just so much happening on screen (flashing warnings are 100% in effect with this game), and I still love it even as I have seen it dozens of times now.

Overall it’s just a fun experience. Challenging but not unapproachable, fun to look at and listen to, but also great to play while listening to, say, a podcast. Fun gameplay, exciting combinations, and a lot to learn. The game is also incredibly affordable. While I got to play it “for free” via Game Pass, the actual price tag on the game is not high at all, and even more so when you realize how much time you can put into it.

So bottom line? Strong recommend. Even for people who don’t exactly like bullet hell games. Again they aren’t my jam, and I am still having a blast with Vampire Survivors. I think it manages to really bring something that more traditional fans of the genre will like while still remaining approachable to new people. You get a lot of fun for not that much cost, and you support indie devs! Win, win, win.

One thought on “Impressions: Vampire Survivors

  1. I love this! Vampires are something of a fascination of mine (Folkloric Vampires, though sometimes I make exceptions). So is this similar to the Zombie survivor games?


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