Since its release in December 2021, Vampire Survivors has been making waves in the indie gaming world with its simple mechanics and unique gameplay design that makes it easy to pick up and hard to put down. Best of all, it was incredibly cheap on release, which belied how much fun you’d actually get from it.
In its wake, a new genre was formed, defined by waves of enemies to fight and survive against, varied weapons, characters and upgrades to experiment with, and an attractive prize. While lesser just-for-a-buck imitators are inevitable, here are the best examples the genre has to offer along with some older titles that are surprisingly similar despite predating Vampire Survivors.
If you love this genre and love Vtubers then you have to play this game because it’s basically a clone of Vampire Survivors with some cool tweaks to the formula all themed around the internationally renowned Vtubing band Hololive .
Hololive lovers, this is your game. It’s packed with Hololive goodness, from the characters based on their Vtubers to the items and weapons that are all based on jokes about the band members.
If you’re not a fan, give the game a try anyway, as it brings some cool twists to the formula, like giving characters ultimate attacks and unlocking them based on a gacha system. There’s really no reason not to play this game, especially since you can play it for free at low cost at Itch.io
6 20 minutes until dawn
Although the games are quite similar, 20 Minutes Till Dawn has made a few changes to the formula that make it feel like a different, albeit slightly familiar, experience.
The most important difference is that this game allows you to manually fire your weapon, making it a twin-stick shooter. This game also trades in the SNES-era aesthetic for a 4-bit RGBI palette reminiscent of IBM computers and instead of Castlevania-esque creatures, you get eldritch abominations.
The game is quite cheap on Steam, at the same price as VS and although it has fewer features than its predecessor, it is still in early access, so you can probably expect new characters, weapons and other items to the future.
At first glance, this game looks very different from the others, being a vertically scrolling shmup instead of the free-roaming reverse bullet hell that other games tend to be. But if you spend enough time with Gunlocked, you’ll find that it shares a lot of DNA with those other games.
For example, you don’t fire your own shots. Instead, your weapon detaches when loaded, basically on a timer. You also get experience gems every time you blast an enemy and when you have enough you level up and can choose from a small pool of abilities, either new ones or upgrades of the ones you have. If you like the progression of games like VS, but want to try something a little different, this is a good game to try.
4 Spirithunters: Infinite Horde
This game has a lot of the same beats as Vampire Survivors, so sometimes it can feel like you’re playing the exact same game, but with a cel-shaded look instead of a 16-bit Castlevania aesthetic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’ve finished the current version of VS and want more.
It’s also not a one-size-fits-all experience, as the weapons in this game – here called abilities – have different attack patterns than VS and there are things like permanent buffs for those abilities and pets of company that don’t have analog in VS.
3 Synthetic: Arena
Synthetik: Arena is quite different from Vampire Survivors, but the games have enough in common that if you like one you might very well like the other, especially if you’re looking for something a little more hardcore for yourself. teething.
This game shares Vampire Survivors’ top-down view and tendency to send waves of enemies screaming for your blood. However, the gameplay is almost a ruthless shooter military simulation level, where one or two well-placed shots could be the end of your enemies or your run, reloading is a task in itself and cover can be the difference. between life or death. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you can grab the game for free on Steam.
2 Project Lazarus
Perhaps one of the more ambitious games to be in the same vein as Vampire Survivors, Project Lazarus feels more like a genuine new entry in any VS genre rather than something that plays follow-the-leader. The features are all there: endless waves of enemies, experience gains and upgrades along the way, and even weapon evolutions, but it has some unique elements that really set it apart.
While the core gameplay elements are satisfyingly familiar, the characters, here being various mech models, are extremely unique. While they have the basic features like different base stats, unique abilities, and starting weapons, they also have different abilities for different types of gear and sometimes even different movement styles. The uniqueness of each model, especially when it comes to gear capacity, gives them a feel of customization not available in other examples of this genre, reminiscent of mech-sim games like Front Mission or Armored Core.
The oldest title on this list, predating Vampire Survivors by six years, Bardbarian looks surprisingly similar. This game describes itself as: “…a mixture of Tower Defense, RPG & RTS with some ‘Shmup and Snake’ elements, and many of these descriptors can be applied to VS as well.
The gameplay consists of choosing three units, which essentially function as your weapons and/or items, each with different shooting styles, then defending a crystal on the left side of the screen against enemies coming from the right. You can’t attack directly, but you can play different songs to give your units different buffs and summon more of them.
Bardbarian is on the more expensive side of games like these, but if you like the genre and have a little extra cash to spend, you might want to give this one a try.
Next: The best Roguelikes on Steam