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Vampire Survivors (Switch) Review

by Melanie Zawodniak - August 16, 2023, 7:00 am EDT
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Numbers Go Up

Vampire Survivors is a remarkably simple roguelite game. The only thing that the player is really able to do is move around a field that is filled with hundreds upon thousands of hostile creatures. Your character will periodically attack the creatures, but you have no control over which enemy is attacked or when it is attacked. The one piece of genuine agency you have in the game is choosing which upgrades you acquire upon leveling up, which are split between new weapons for more frequent attacks and stat upgrades that boost your various abilities.

So what is it actually like to play Vampire Survivors? At the start of a run you’ll be fairly weak. Take the starter character Antonio for example; he begins a run with just a whip attack that occurs directly in front of him approximately every one and a half seconds. On a level up you could upgrade the whip to perform a second attack directly behind you, and eventually to do more damage in a wider area. You could also choose to take a second weapon like the magic wand, which fires a magic missile at the nearest enemy approximately every second which can be upgraded to shoot four powerful missiles that can each hit multiple opponents. Instead of a weapon maybe you’ll take a passive item like the empty tome, which decreases the cooldown of all weapons and can itself be upgraded to reduce those cooldowns even further.

You can carry up to six weapons and six passive items which can all be upgraded until you’ve gone from a weak adventurer throwing a fireball every now and then to an unstoppable ball of death that tears through legions of monsters without breaking a sweat. Some items can be combined to reach an evolved state that grants even more powerful effects that eventually fill the screen with projectiles and damage numbers until it all blends together into an incomprehensible soup of explosive carnage. Vampire Survivors has often been described as a ‘reverse bullet hell’; rather than trying to dodge a rainstorm of projectiles from an all-powerful boss, you instead are the all-powerful boss firing a rainstorm of projectiles on countless weaklings.

As a roguelite, Vampire Survivors features a long-term upgrade system that is driven by in-game achievements. Accomplishing goals will unlock new items and characters that provide more options in your level-up choices, and cash that is accumulated through gameplay allows you to buy permanent stat upgrades so that you can tear through stages faster and more easily. There isn’t anything to unlock that fundamentally changes the game and each character has the same basic gameplay loop, but as you unlock more and more abilities you’ll be able to get more creative and intentional with your builds in order to come up with an efficient plan that feels the best for how you specifically want to engage with monsters on the field.

Vampire Survivors is not an especially challenging or substantive game, but it is one that feels good to relax and unwind with for a half hour at a time. A podcast that I listen to once described the game as “my favorite slot machine”, and it’s a moniker I think is very apt for how good Vampire Survivors is at giving a satisfying rush of dopamine with its overwhelmingly flashy effects, absurd power curve, and snappy pace of upgrading. There are no hidden depths lurking under the surface and I truly don’t know what more I could say about the game than I already have, but it doesn’t need to be anything more than it is. Sometimes I just want to see big explosions, flashing colors, and numbers going up, and Vampire Survivors gives me all of that in great quantities with pretty much no friction along the way.


  • Flashy and over-the-top
  • Lots of unlockables to keep you playing
  • Numbers going up makes me happy
  • Little player agency

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Game Profile

Genre Shooter
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Vampire Survivors
Release Aug 17, 2023

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