Sometimes the best Android games find effective gameplay loops by hyper-focusing on a single aspect of existing game genres. Vampire Survival is a perfect example of this, taking the simple loop of infinite enemy wave survival and refining it into an addictive, easy-to-pick-up experience tailor-made for the best Android phones, given the extremely limited player input. AP wants to round out the year with a roundup of great mobile games inspired by Vampire Survivors.
One thing that’s great about the VS gameplay loop is the variance in attack types, with melee and ranged attack strategies both receiving constant rewards and upgrades, coupled with the lack of a fire button making for an entrapping feedback loop. Super Wizard embodies this extremely well, putting you in control of a wizard fighting off endless hordes of enemies with a variety of spells. Killing enemies sees you level up, which grants access to both new abilities and upgrades to your existing ones. Overall, the attack progression is satisfying, the enemies are creative in a retro kind of way, and Super Wizard is honestly a game that’s tough to put down.
20 minutes till dawn
A more grounded example of what Vampire Survivor’s gameplay loop entails, 20 minutes till dawn is a VS-inspired game that focuses on gunplay. While some of the games in this roundup do tend to start off a bit slow, and unfortunately, this happens to be one of them. Your starting revolver attack is noticeably slow and unsatisfying, with a cooldown that lasts just long enough to get annoying. This does encourage you to try different upgrades to increase damage output, but the slow starting point does risk turning some players off. That being said, the attacks have some great impacts once the game gets going, and it’s no less mesmerizing to play.
The minimalist graphics of some VP-inspired games have the potential to look uncanny and even regressive, but you quickly learn a game presents itself this way to compensate for the huge number of enemies that appear on-screen at once. Zombie Survivors, conversely, has a modern cartoonish art style alongside a more wanton destruction philosophy. Your character is armed with multiple firearms and edged weapons, all of which stack on top of each other, swelling your destructive capacity as the enemies grow in strength and number. There is a slight problem with the melee attacks in that they are too infrequent to be reliable when things get desperate, but the game’s quirky presentation and gunplay more than compensate. Add to that cool enemy designs and boss fights. What’s not to like?
A slight deviation from the formula, Bardbarian follows the principle of the VS gameplay loop but alters the execution. You take control of a bard facing down an army of goblins, your only defense being the power to summon others to fight on your behalf. While this does make for an amusing spectacle, the fact that your attacks are coming from the area around you instead of from exactly where you are can make precision an impossibility. This is mainly because your party members are constantly changing positions around you, making it frustrating as the difficulty curves up. A creative and amusing premise let down slightly by its shaky execution, but you’ll have fun with it as long as you make sound investments before things get real.
Back to the retro style, Marine Survivor is easily the most old-school feeling VP-like on this roundup. You take control of a space marine and must survive an increasingly dense horde of hostile aliens with explosive weaponry. A familiar problem arises in your starting weapon being slow and unsatisfying, a slow-firing one-hit kill that doesn’t auto-aim like other games of this type. You have to align your shots manually with the same finger you use to move, which is as awkward as it sounds, particularly when beset from all sides. That being said, the game’s creative and destructive weapons do make up for this, being a blast to use. This one takes a while to get going, but it is definitely worth the extra effort.
Legend of Slime: Idle RPG
While not a true blue VS-like, Legend of the Slime embodies many of the qualities associated with an idle wave-based mobile game. You control a little blue slime and must progress forward at all costs, mowing down adversaries as you go. The gameplay presentation resembles a runner game, but in practice turns out very much like a VS-inspired title. Both movement and combat are completely idle; the interactive element is to pour the cash your enemies drop into your stats, increasing your attack damage, health, and health regeneration. In many ways, this is the antonym of VS-like gameplay, a system where you control the level-ups directly rather than the movement. Legend of the Slime presents itself well and balances challenges without becoming too easy. Give it a try if you’re looking for something a little different.
If I were asked which game on the Play Store encapsulates the VS gameplay loop the best, it would be Hero Survival. The setup is what you would expect; you are in a field and must fend off endless waves of enemies with an assortment of weapons and magic spells. This game doesn’t hide its intent to sucker you in with instant gratification, upgrades are semi-constant, and chests containing further loot are found scattered throughout the area and occasionally give you a magnet that acquires all the XP points on the map. Your offensive measures feel great to use, and the enemy sprites evoke early Castlevania titles, putting me in the mood for the best arcade games on Android. Hero Survival is very well put together and devilishly addictive.
Wrapping up with another mage-themed VS-like, Lonely Survivor places you in control of a mage attacked by countless enemies. You must rely on various spells to defend yourself from hostiles, using fireball projectiles, lightning bolts, damaging shields, and more, all upgraded by defeating enemies. This is another example of a very hard-to-put-down game, with its positive reinforcement, hypnotic waves of enemies, and the dopamine hit provided by a shield that kills everything it touches instantly. As good as the game is, the usual appeal of a VS-like is the boundless map with zero constrictions, but the boss fights in this game place you in enclosed arenas until the boss is dead, which does affect the pacing a bit. But overall, this game is extremely enjoyable.
Pure shoot and loot is the name of the game
We hope you enjoyed our selection of Vampire Survivors clones in today’s roundup. These games are all worth checking out, as they’re all subtly different, and you will likely find a favorite after a few games. Let us know which titles won you over down below, and please check back soon for more from this great little sub-genre. And make sure to check out these brilliant Android tablets and use a wider screen to render more foes, and why not look at some great tablet-optimized apps on Android while you’re at it? This subgenre is blowing up right now, so if you have any suggestions for what should be classed as a great VP-like, we would love to hear about them. See you next time.