Resulting from the character of my job, my gaming habits are just a little unusual. I are likely to chew through long games in brief bursts for review purposes and spend the time in-between sampling as many smaller titles as I can. I’m the type of one who desires to see the whole lot gaming has to supply, and I strive to get my hands on an array of unique experiences. It’s rare that I come back to a game once I’ve put it down. Practically speaking, it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle.
Yet that was challenged this 12 months by just a little $5 video game: Vampire Survivors. I initially dove into it in February as I tinkered around with my Steam Deck, and I figured those few hours I spent with it were where I’d stop. Because the 12 months progressed and I discovered myself catching up on my backlog, though, I suddenly found myself gravitating back to the mini-action game. Sometimes it was just checking in for an hour every month, but by December, it was the one game I actually wanted besides up.
Vampire Survivors is the rare game that’s fundamentally challenged how I take into consideration how I play. It’s sufficiently small to suit into those short moments of silence, but crammed with a lot content that I don’t feel like I’m ever scraping the underside. At times, it’s thrilling in a way that few games can truly match. It’s certainly not my favorite video game of 2022, but in some ways, it could be the closest thing this 12 months has to an ideal one.
All I want
Vampire Survivors is without delay essentially the most visually chaotic and easy-to-play game of the 12 months. The goal is solely to survive an ongoing wave of monsters for half-hour. The most important character mechanically attacks in idle game fashion, with players only guiding them around an limitless map with a joystick. As an alternative of intense combos, the motion is more focused on smart decision-making. Each time the character levels up by collecting experience points, players select a recent ability or upgrade. What starts with a tiny character shooting some magic beams every few seconds builds to a crescendo within the last minutes of a run as players can obliterate a whole bunch of swarming enemies straight away.
It’s the type of perfect storm I never realized I wanted from a video game until now. I’ve at all times enjoyed the catharsis of games like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which make me feel like an all-powerful god able to slashing down a whole army. The downside of games like that, though, is that they’re often physically demanding. They require constant button presses at a lightning-fast pace. By simplifying the control scheme, Vampire Survivors transformed something that’s normally a high-octane experience and made it a zen one.
That design philosophy made it something that slotted into my downtime more naturally than comparatively complex games that required my full attention. It was perfect for a 30-minute commute, that awkward hour where I used to be winding down before bed, or the last 45 minutes of an airplane ride where I used to be anxious to land. Vampire Survivors’ ultimate power is that it’s a time machine, eating away those empty moments with something immensely fun.
What hooked me greater than anything isn’t a lot the sport as its content rollout. Once I began playing in February, it was still in early access. There have been a number of levels and a handful of characters — enough to maintain me occupied, but not a lot that I used to be obsessing over it. Somewhat than delivering the whole lot upfront, developer Poncle took a more regular approach with frequent, smaller updates. That’s even continued after its official 1.0 launch, expanding its life span even further.
Each time I logged in, there was at all times something recent to check out. I could tackle a recent stage I’d never seen or unlock a personality that entirely modified my playstyle. While much larger games like God of War Ragnarok feel entirely static after I return to them, Vampire Survivors has a type of rolling momentum that almost all games dream of. That’s little doubt because of its smaller scale, which allows Poncle to consistently weave in meaningful updates that don’t require a serious overhaul.
There’s an old meme in gaming that goes: “I would like shorter games with worse graphics made by people who find themselves paid more to work less and I’m not kidding.” Vampire Survivors is a shining example of why that line is greater than a joke. Though it could be positioned as a micro-game with modest graphics, even this 12 months’s grandest titles struggled to match the limitless fun of Vampire Survivors. I’d take one game like this over most AAA games I play in a given 12 months.
Vampire Survivors is obtainable on PC, iOS, Android, and Xbox via Game Pass.