Escape Velocity

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This dirt cheap indie SHMUP has you control a little pixel-art vampire picking up weird and wondrous weapons and items as ever-increasing swarms of enemies try to get you – until eventually either you are overrun or the screen is filled with explosions, disappearing enemies, and XP gems.

Vampire Survivors is one of those games that seems to have no right to be as good as it is. It is as barebones as a game can be. The gameplay is literally limited to pressing WASD and picking elements of your build. That’s it. That’s all the player input you’re going to be giving. And yet…

I wouldn’t describe the gameplay as ‘deep’. But it is definitely fun! The core gameplay loop is building up a character with different weapons and power-ups as the enemies coming for your grow ever bigger and more numerous. After thirty minutes (if you survive that long), the grim reaper gets you and the run ends. During the run, you earn a little gold that you can spent on power-ups or new heroes for your next runs.

I’ve spent over 40 hours on this game (it hurt a little writing that), and there are still a tonne of unlocks and secrets left. In particular, the game has a mechanic where combining certain weapon pickups with item pickups ‘evolves’ the weapon into a more powerful version of itself, which means that sometimes you need to unlock a string of different elements before you can get to the most powerful (and weird) weapons in the game.

And that is where the fun is – trying out and unlocking ever weirder builds, doing runs without certain powerful weapons, trying to get matching items and weapons to evolve your entire loadout, etc. If you do it right, by the end of your thirty-minute run your character’s weapons will fill the screen with bright flashes and explosions, and enemies won’t be able to even get close. There is great satisfaction in just vaporising swarms of enemies into little XP-gems.

I’ve needed something to keep my mind occupied which causes exactly 0 stress lately and Vampire Survivors is just perfect. For me, this game epitomises what a simple indie game should be. Simple gameplay. Great pixelart. And a price below 3 euros.

At that price, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give it a shot. And even if you get bored after three runs… you’ve still paid less than a euro for each!

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