Vampire Survivors: Stop Playing if You Can, Survive if it Lets You

By Brian • 16 March 2022

Highly addictive. Avoid if you have a lot on your plate. Or maybe just avoid if your life holds any meaning for you.

[Introducing Play By Play, which is, at least by design, the primary focus of the Bad Enough Dudes blog—journaling about games as I play them.]

Great news, everyone! I have discovered the most addictive video game I have played in years, and I’m here to tell you about it JUST in time for you to start that new, time-intensive, life-defining project you’ve always meant to tackle.

Oh, you wanted to get some work done? Sorry. You’re playing Vampire Survivors now. And probably forever.

A dude named Joe Drilling, who runs an entertaining and informative YouTube channel called Same Name, Different Game, tweeted about Vampire Survivors six weeks ago or so. This was my introduction to the game. I Googled it and found an early build on its page, where I tried it for the first time and immediately lost an hour of my evening. Not only do we have a deeply addictive formula at work here, but also strong Castlevania vibes, all concentrated into this very convenient, very addictive browser game. It’s as if Vampire Survivors was custom-made to ruin my life.

It begins.

So, I picked a character—the whip-wielding Antonio Belpaese, the only character available from the outset (and who bears a striking resemblance to members of a certain vampire-killing lineage)—and bided my time as a flock of bats slowly surrounded and closed in on me. My man Antonio started to auto-whip the bats out of the air at a regularly timed interval, so my only concerns were dodging the enemies and picking up items as they fell. The bats occasionally dropped gems—I picked up a handful and got a level up, where I was presented with a choice of three upgrades. I could choose only one, and press onward. I also received some random upgrades from treasure chests dropped by tougher boss monsters.

Soon, the bats were joined by zombies, skeletons, and other horrors. Within a couple of minutes, I was overwhelmed, and paid my first of many visits to the “Game Over” screen. Drag.

Power UP!

But! I earned some money, which I used to unlock a new character, Imelda, who has a different starting weapon (a magic wand) and character perks than Antonio. Awesome. Now I can try this character, and maybe a different combination of upgrades?

And, oh, I see there are other characters and permanent upgrades to unlock by earning more money. This will require more gameplay! More, perfect, horrible gameplay.

Subsequent attempts saw me survive longer and longer periods of time, as my skills improved and I experimented with different weapons and upgrades, ranging from holy water and throwing axes to armor bonuses and duplicators that increase the number of projectiles my character throws. That’s half the fun and addiction of Vampire Survivors—choosing the appropriate combination of upgrades to hone my character into a nigh-invulnerable killing machine. Figuring out what works best to kill the enemies is perhaps more satisfying and addictive than the actual killing of said enemies. In all, I think characters can hold six weapons and six upgrades at a time. When I held out against the monsters well enough to be choosy about what weapons and upgrades I picked, I was able to build my character in such a way that I couldn’t even be touched in the late-game. Ultimately, you only have to survive 30 minutes, which is both a blip and an eternity as thousands of monsters relentlessly descend upon you.

Things get a little hectic if you can survive longer than a few minutes.

Eventually, I played the free version enough that I felt I owed the creator some money, so I bought the $2.99 version on Steam. It cost me less than a coffee and has provided hours of ill-timed enjoyment. As of this writing, I’ve survived the Mad Forest and the Inlaid Library, and came within seconds of surviving the Dairy Plant (ugh). I unlocked many characters and a host of permanent upgrades. But, I’ve reached a point where I’m really hesitant to play it again because it’s SO addictive. The roguelite elements, the purging of literal thousands of vile night creatures, and the character-building are all just too much. Like the arcade classics of old, it’s too easy to play “just one more time.”

Full disclosure: I haven’t really seen any vampires, I don’t think. But, there are a lot of bats. Some of these bats could be vampires in bat-form. You can’t prove it isn’t true. Then again, the game is named Vampire Survivors, so maybe the vampires already passed through and are on their way somewhere else.

You wanna know what the worst part of all of this is? Vampire Survivors is only in Early Access. The game isn’t even done yet! If it’s this addictive now, what will it be like when it’s complete?!

I’d be happy to further analyze this threat to our society, but if you’ll excuse me, I need to go play more Vampire Survivors now.