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    dkirschner's Vampire Survivors (PC)

    [June 23, 2023 01:52:36 PM]
    Binged the rest of this today, after dabbling in it a couple weeks ago. I didn't really know what to expect from Vampire Survivors, went in blind, only knowing that it was an indie hit. If I had to describe it in genre vocabulary that I'm familiar with, I would say it's a cross between a hack-and-slash game (like classic Gauntlet), a bullet hell game, and a roguelite. You will eventually win due to the persistent unlocks, and it's a fun ride to get there.

    You choose a character (and will unlock at least a dozen more) and enter the first stage, a garden full of bats and skeletons. Your character is in the middle of the screen and enemies appear all around, always moving toward you. Your goal is to kill them (to accumulate experience points, gold, and items) and avoid being hit, surviving as long as you can. The more enemies you kill, the more experience gems you can collect. The more experience gems you collect, the faster you level up. The faster you level up, the more powerful you are at any given time in the level's set time frame. Enemy waves change every minute, and if you aren't killing enough (maybe you're trying to explore the stage instead), you'll fall behind and become overwhelmed. Even if you are keeping up, some waves will catch you off guard or are especially challenging to deal with given your character's current build. But generally, if you're keeping pace with the timer, you'll last a long time, and perhaps clear the stage (typically at the 30-minute mark).

    Each character starts with a specific weapon and sometimes other stat bonuses or penalties. The weapons and other items offer tons of variety. In addition to your character's starting weapon, you can find and equip up to 5 more (6 total) plus 6 passive items. If you collect the same item again, it levels up. Further, each weapon has a "matching" passive item (unknown to you until you figure it out). When you have both items in a pair, and you level one (or maybe just the weapon?) to the max (level 8), any minibosses you kill have a chance to drop an "evolved" version of that weapon. Evolved weapons are very powerful, and you'll eventually figure out that to excel later in the game, you should plan "builds" that involve evolved weapons, and adhere to them as best you can.

    Depending on the level, the enemies you face, and your character, some weapons and passives will be more desirable than others. In the narrow tower stage, for example, the Song of Mana is badass. It shoots wide rays of energy vertically in both directions, perfect for a narrow stage. Choose the character who starts with that weapon, Poppea. She also has a bonus to the "duration" stat, which affects how long weapon effects, like the Song of Mana rays, last. So, ideally, you should go for other weapons that are affected by duration, like the King Bible (bibles rotate around you dealing damage to anyone nearby) and Santa Water (bombs of holy water land in the area, sizzling whoever walks on them), and go for the passive that increases duration, the passives of the other weapons you get (so you can evolve them too), or other passives that provide nice bonuses, like more XP or damage bonuses (always useful!).

    Vampire Survivors features a ridiculous amount of unlockables, achievements, and secrets. I had fun aiming for many of these, until they started getting really difficult or grindy (e.g., achievements for reaching level 50 with each character, each of which unlocks Arcana, which are buffs for your run). You will want to go for some of these unlockables, not only because they are useful in and of themselves (new characters, special menu options, new weapons that will drop, etc.), but because many come with gold, which you use to purchase persistent upgrades like increased damage, a free resurrection per run, or faster experience point gain. The faster you acquire gold for such persistent upgrades, the stronger you are in each run and the farther you can get.

    One thing I became confused about was how to “beat” this game. The devs have added tons of content since release, including an additional regular level and an ending where the credits roll. I ended up considering completing the final regular level as beating the game. Getting the “true” ending is a long and complex process! First, you have to collect all 11 relics from regular stages. Some of these involve unlocking other secrets (like to get the yellow sign). I ended up with 10 of them, but couldn’t beat the challenge stage called the Bone Zone to get the 11th. The Bone Zone was added after release and is a big spike in difficulty with a boss that gets harder the longer you wait to kill. I never managed it. But, in theory, after I collected that 11th relic, I would have unlocked some other stage, then had to do something else to trigger the final boss fight and see the credits.

    Anyway, Vampire Survivors appears so simple, but is surprisingly complex. It exceeded my expectations and scratched an itch for some grindy leveling up with constant rewards. This is one, because it has so many achievements and, I assume, will continue to be added onto, that I probably should have bought on Steam instead of played on Game Pass. Maybe I will buy it on Steam anyway and replay it someday, especially if it comes with a lot of DLC.
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    dkirschner's Vampire Survivors (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 11 June, 2023

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 21 June, 2023

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Survive hordes of encroaching enemies by unlocking tons of things. Surprisingly engaging! ----------- Excellent game. Appears simple, but very complex.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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