Published on February 13th, 2024 | by Admin
Vampire Hunters Review
Summary: Taking inspiration from the burgeoning Survivors genre and transposing it onto the horde shooter template, it breathes new life into the tired genre with a Mothergunship-like nonsense appeal
Vampire Survivors took the world by storm when it hit the Steam store in 2022. With its reverse-bullet-hell gameplay that plays like an idle game crossed with a musou game and its Castlevania-inspired aesthetics, it soon lent its name to a whole new genre of Survivors games. That’s not to say that attacking literal armies of enemies in pursuit of a highscore is a new concept by far, indeed, another comparable genre is the well-trodden arena of horde shooters, which have been around since the ‘90s-early 00s. Enter Vampire Hunters, a self-proclaimed “Survivors FPS”; taking inspiration (by the pound) from Vampire Survivors and mashing it together with the horde shooter genre. In hindsight, it was likely only a matter of time before someone made a game like this. And I’m glad someone did, because spoiler alert: it’s gloriously ridiculous and a whole lot of fun.
Self-evidently, in this game you’re a Vampire Hunter and you hunt… various monsters actually, since the enemy variety covers many other mythical horrors such as werewolves and gargoyles alongside the titular Vampires. The actual hunting takes place in one of many medieval-steampunk themed arenas, with monsters spawning in exponentially greater numbers and strength. It’s your job, as in any given other Survivors or horde shooter, to murderise as many of them as you can with an ever-expanding arsenal of weaponry and try not to be overwhelmed as you do so.
This ever-expanding arsenal is where the Survivors influence reaches its logical endpoint, to great comic effect – and fun to boot. There’s a plethora of weapons available to you, ranging from the mundane to the madcap. You might start off with an SMG, a flamethrower or a rocket launcher (the game’s initial starting weapon options), but as you progress you’ll end up picking up laser guns, pirate cannons, [another one] and even crucifix boomerangs (the game’s words, not mine). They’re also split across three categories – the main guns are your Primary weapons, Secondary weapons are single-shot recharging affairs that generally more esoteric, and Passive weapons tend to take the form of Familiars that fire automatically on a timer. These weapons can be fired manually like a traditional shooter, or if you’d rather avoid the RSI from all the clicking, you can choose to have them fire automatically – another sign of the Survivors influence on the game.
Also much like Survivors games, you’re also practically encouraged to use as many different weapons as you can at once. Dual-wielding is practically a video gaming staple, The Darkness 2 brought us quad-wielding, but Vampire Hunters has all of them beat. With ten Primary slots and two each of Secondary and Passive weapon slots, this game (as proudly flaunted in the first GIF on the game’s store page) allows for up to tetradeca-wielding of any crazy combination of weapons you can unlock as your game progresses, and they all fire at once. The result: Utter glorious madness in game form, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It reminds me of the absolutely barmy multi-barrelled Frankenweapons that are the main feature of fellow Roguelike Mothergunship what with the inherent comic value and sheer badass factor of wielding 10 guns, two secondaries and two passives all stacked on top of each other like some kind of gun sandwich. That said, it would be a nice cherry on top if there was an option to somehow chord the weapons so a specific set could be fired at once, or for one to start firing automatically when another is reloading. Alongside these you can also unlock Constellations that allow you to add modifiers to the game, further extending the replay value and novelty.
As before stated as well, the enemies spawn in at a steady rate and grow ever more numerous as the game goes on, with their strength and variety generally rising proportionally. The initial enemies are easy enough, though some of them feel a little spongey for my liking. Eventually though, you’ll eventually come up against Boss characters who, when defeated, earn you Boss Tokens for unlocking new characters and starting weapons to introduce your fetid foes to. It’s a fun and addicting gameplay loop that’s liable to hook you for hours, trying to get just a bit further, last a little longer and unlock everything you can.
Rarely do I find a game that’s quite as fantastically bonkers as Vampire Hunters. Taking inspiration from the burgeoning Survivors genre and transposing it onto the horde shooter template, it breathes new life into the tired genre with a Mothergunship-like nonsense appeal, and altogether, the game feels like a natural evolution of both the horde shooter and the Survivors genres before them, meshing their best features into a gorgeous hotpot of badassitude and insanity.