Capsule Review: Vampire Survivors

A streamlined but flashy shoot 'em up with roguelite elements.

Move your character around a top-down 2D battlefield while enemies spawn in endlessly with increasing power and numbers. You start with one weapon and as you level up from defeating enemies you accumulate and power-up more weapons and abilities, but they all fire automatically. You just steer your character and choose power-up options. Skillful play, good choices, and some luck will keep you alive for a while but at the 30-minute mark, Death will come in and put an end to your run. Coins collected during runs can be spent on permanent upgrades (though you can respec freely) and more characters, stages, and power-ups can be unlocked by getting achievements.

The controls aren’t very deep, but the action is frenetic and rewarding. Managing threats and collecting dropped experience and treasures does take skill and the variety of weapons, stages, and power-ups makes for a large number of potential builds with different viability, so runs can be quite different from each other. It can be easy to fall into just using your favorite build over and over, but achievements provide directed goals that push you into using weapons, characters, or strategies you otherwise might not, keeping the gameplay varied as long as there’s more stuff for you to unlock.

Once you have unlocked and tried out everything, all that’s really left is a progression treadmill, but the fact that most sessions are capped at half an hour (though there are ways to go beyond this) means it can easily still serve as something bite-sized to dip into periodically to relax with.

If you enjoy the basic gameplay loop (which you can try for free on mobile or in the browser) the game will give you a lot of enjoyment for a very low price tag. I just wish the mobile version were a one-time purchase too instead of being ad-supported.

I Stopped Playing When: I mostly played during the game’s Early Access period, so I repeatedly unlocked everything and got all achievements and then put the game down until the next update adding more stuff to do. Eventually it started feeling samey to me and I moved on, so while the game has still gotten some new updates and DLC since then I haven’t come back for it. At this point, I think I’d need a new mode instead of just new characters, weapons, and stages.

Docprof's Rating:

Four Stars: Great. Not only did I finish the game, I probably played through the whole thing again and/or completed any optional objectives. It's an easy recommendation for any genre fan.

You can get it or learn more here.