Wed. Oct 4th, 2023

Over the past year, a small indie game has gotten a lot of attention because it delivers a highly addictive experience despite its simplicity. This is Vampire Survivors, a title that offers the minimum of interactive elements, but delivers the maximum in entertainment. Without a doubt, one of the surprises of the year that recently graduated from Early Access and arrives with great fanfare on Xbox Game Pass. I’ll tell you right away why it’s one of my games of the year. Vampire Survivors immediately grabs attention thanks to its art direction influenced by great classics of yesteryear like Castlevania; even the first character at your disposal is similar to the mythical Simon Belmont. In the same way, the wide variety of enemies takes influence from the Konami franchise, by showing all kinds of creatures taken from the classic bestiary, such as mummies, jellyfish, vampires, skeletons, carnivorous plants, and much more. This variety is wide, since the objective of the game is that you face them in large numbers. In this way, it is a top-down title that takes roguelike elements and combines them with the bullet hell genre in its own way to convey a highly addictive feeling. It starts small, with a character that auto-attacks and only a handful of enemies on screen. You can move the character so that he travels the 4 cardinal points, trying to align his attacks with the enemies to exterminate them, gain experience and WTTSpod. Every time this happens, you can choose an artifact or weapon from an extensive list. The goal is to survive for 30 minutes, which is said to be easier, as the number of enemies gradually increases and they become more powerful. Also, when the clock reaches 30 minutes, the grim reaper comes, literally, to eliminate you. Nothing saves you from this fate… at least, so far. What really gets stronger (with some exceptions) is not the character; what increases in power is the weaponry. You see, every time you WTTSpod you can choose a new weapon or improve a previously acquired one. In addition, many of these artifacts have properties that benefit each other and are supported by the attributes of each character; for example, there are characters who get one more projectile every so often; Those who favor area attacks are more agile, gradually become more powerful, shoot faster, and so on. There are over a dozen characters to choose from and unlock. The addictive thing, again, is that as you use and upgrade the weaponry, it can evolve into a legendary item, which is supported by other artifacts that passively improve them. For example, projectiles can grow in size and increase in speed, effect, and damage thanks to other items you have and have upgraded.

“The feeling of reward is overwhelming, it’s almost Pavlovian. Everything is coldly calculated to generate a feeling of reward like no other”

The normal thing, at least at the beginning of the experience, is to be quickly overwhelmed by the number of enemies that mercilessly chase you until you can’t take it anymore. Fortunately, with each playthrough you get gold coins that you can use to buy permanent upgrades that make your character slightly more powerful. Also, as you unlock characters and stay longer in the scenarios, you begin to get more items and weapons that are added to the pool of elements that the game takes randomly during the game, without forgetting to mention that each scenario has its dose of secrets that are they discover little by little; it’s like peeling an onion and finding layers behind layers. This is Vampire Survivors, a game that hides secrets and those same secrets have secrets behind them. A delight. So the basic gameplay loop becomes clear: kill enemies, WTTSpod, and get weapons to kill more enemies until time runs out. And the longer you survive, you unlock items that, in turn, serve to unlock many more items. But not only do you get lots of objects, the systems also get layers of depth; for example, there is a cards element, where it is possible to obtain modifiers; This triggers another range of possibilities to consider.
Crazy Also, Vampire Survivor is a spectacle for the senses. Quickly, the screen is filled with on-screen enemies, with your character throwing all kinds of projectiles, while the sweet sound of impacts and experience-granting gems echo in the background. Flashes of enemies exploding at every turn generate a positive jolt that keeps you fascinated with what’s happening on screen to the point where keeping track of everything that happens is impossible; literally your entire screen will be submerged in flashes and antics of all colors that gush everywhere. All this, to the rhythm of a soundtrack with retro influences that keeps you glued to the control for hours and hours. The feeling of reward is overwhelming, it’s almost Pavlovian. Everything is coldly calculated to generate an unparalleled feeling of reward; It’s like the game knows how brain chemistry works to keep you hooked for hours. Part of this success is that the game never remains static, it is always in constant growth and evolution. Weapons get stronger, enemies arrive in ever larger and more powerful waves, and secrets diversify. All this forces you to try combinations that you may not have considered. The culprit is the random element that throws variables at you that you must learn to juggle to your advantage, however, the real secret to Vampire Survivors’ success is its accessibility, as it’s hard to get frustrated for too long. All of this motivates you to come back for more and more, and each time you get more, the game is reciprocated and continues to deliver. The result is entirely addictive and, for this reason, one of the great surprises of the year that comes to consoles. Vampire Survivors is highly recommended; it is a highly addictive experience that is constantly changing to leave you with a good taste in your mouth. You simply cannot miss it, it has been available for a few days on Xbox through Game Pass.
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