An incredible Steam rating of 99%. 28 thousand reviews, i.e. more than 1 million copies sold. Already ranked 21st in the Greatest Steam Games of All Time, which is, for a moment, three positions higher than Half-Life 2! What’s the secret behind Vampire Survivors?

Vampire Survivors
Genre action/RPG
Platforms Windows
Languages English
Developer poncle
Publisher poncle

At first glance, Vampire Survivors is a very simple, even primitive game. At the second, too. It’s a fantasy clone of the classic Crimsonland, where you don’t even have to aim and shoot at enemies, spells and skills work automatically – you can really play this game with one hand (we recommend a gamepad, although it’s not always available at the start). That is, all you have to do is run around a looped level, dodging enemies. They don’t even shoot! Does it sound primitive? No, because behind the simple gameplay lies a very interesting system for upgrading the character’s abilities and weapons. Plus, there are also roguelike elements here, that is, pumping after the death of the hero. And you will die a lot in the beginning.

By the way, there are already 10 heroes in the game, with their own bonuses and initial weapons, but the characters still need to be unlocked. As for leveling up, it can take a lot of time to find the right builds and discover combinations of secret advanced weapons. And this is despite the fact that Vampire Survivors is in the Early Access status and currently has a very low version – 0.2.11.

The secret to Vampire Survivors’ success, and 1 million copies is, without exaggeration, success, is three things.

First, it’s a reference to the classic games of the 90s, both in terms of game mechanics and graphics, with deliberately simple animations and sprites of heroes and enemies. It’s literally a game from the early 90s, before the emergence of 3D graphics.

Secondly, the price of Vampire Survivors is $3, or 59 UAH for Ukraine. That is, the price of a cup of coffee in a not-so-fancy cafe in Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Dnipro, or Kharkiv (Kharkiv, you’re great!). This amount of money is spent almost without thinking, and if the game also brings positive emotions… then it will be a matter of honor for many players to give it a favorable review.

And, thirdly… Vampire Survivors is incredibly, extremely, super addictive. Once you start playing, it’s very difficult to stop. Every death pushes you to try again, every unlocked character or achievement you get pushes you to run again. It’s like husking seeds. It may not seem very decent in a decent society, your lips are already sore and your hands are black, but you can’t stop. A real guilty pleasure as it is.

About the graphics. Vampire Survivors is one of those games where the warnings about photosensitivity and epilepsy should be taken with a grain of salt. After 20-30 minutes of level completion, when your weapons and skills are pumped almost to the limit, the screen is filled with flashing light music from projectiles and spells flying in all directions from the crowd of monsters (it seems that there are about a thousand enemies on the screen at the same time), damage values, experience crystals, and so on. It’s a hell of a lot of stuff. It cuts your eyes out.

But despite this, the desire to reach the end (spoiler alert, you can’t escape death) and start again overpowers even this colorful phantasmagoria.

As we’ve already mentioned, Vampire Survivors is currently in Early Access and will remain so until at least the end of 2022. But the game has already earned its Editor’s Choice. By the way, the author updates the project quite quickly: a new character, new achievements, and a new recipe for a weapon have recently appeared in the game.

I’m looking forward to hearing comments about the degradation of games, bad graphics, and grass that used to be greener. In the meantime, I’m off to kill a few more tens of thousands of monsters.